One of the crucial parts of the Seder on Pesach night is reciting Hallel. Hallel is divided into two parts: the first part is said at the end of Magid; the second part after the meal. The question asked is why we recite Hallel to commemorate the miracle that happened the night of the 15th of Nissan in Egypt, and the miracle of our becoming free. Part of that miracle was Hashem’s killing the firstborn of Egypt to be able to have Pharoh grant our freedom. In the Gemara (Megilah and Sanhedrin), the story is related that the angels wanted to sing the praises of Hashem after the Egyptians drowned in the water and Hashem told them “my creations are drowning in the sea and you want to praise me”! From this Gemara, it seems that even though there was a miracle, if it comes at the cost of people dying we don’t sing praise. If so, how can we say Hallel on the night of Pesach celebrating our freedom if it came at the expense of the death of the firstborn in Egypt?
The Yerech Limoadim (Harav Yeruchem Olshin) cites a concept taught by Rav Ahron Kotler. From Parshas Beshalach, we know the Jewish people praised Hashem after crossing the sea by singing Az Yashir. Why didn’t Hashem tell them as well that they shouldn’t be singing while His creations were drowning? Rav Ahron explained that whenever we praise Hashem through song, two things occur. First, there is the actual praise of Hashem and our appreciation of the miracle. Second is our growing in belief of Hashem by publicly acknowledging His true power. For angels who do not grow, but have a full grasp of Hashem’s power, their song is just a praise of Hashem. To that, Hashem tells them that He doesn’t want to be praised, since it was at the expense of people dying. When it comes to the Jewish people, though, our praise is also an opportunity for us to grow and recognize Hashem’s true power, and that is what Hashem wants.
While this idea answers the question of how the Jewish people leaving Egypt were able to sing praise, it doesn’t seem to answer the question of our saying Hallel now. At the time, they experienced the miracles and from that they were able to grow in their recognition of Hashem. We, on the other hand, did not experience the miracles and, therefore, when saying Hallel, it is just to praise Hashem. The Sefer Emek Bracha asks why we say in the Hagaddah that we will sing before you a “Shira Chadasha” a new song on the night of the Seder? What is different about this song from any other form of Hallel? He explains that Seder night is not about our remembering the miracles that happened to our forefathers; rather, it is our reliving the experience as if it happened to us. This is different from every other Hallel, which is said in reflection of previous miracles. At the Seder, it is as if all of the miracles happened to us. Since we are actually attempting to experience the miracles during the Seder, we need to say Hallel not just to praise Hashem, but to grow in appreciation of His true power from a feeling of personal experience.
May we all merit to use the Seder night to truly experience the miracles of the exodus from Egypt and through that to feel a need to sing praise to Hashem in recognition of His power.