A Time for Full PraiseWhy do was say the entire Hallel all the days of Sukkos and only half-Hallel on Chol Hamo'ed Pesach and the last day(s)?
The explanation offered in our Gemara is that the same number of sacrifices were offered each day of Pesach in the Beis Hamikdash. We view the entire festival as one unit, for which the complete Hallel said on the first day(s) suffices as an expression of praise for the entire Pesach. On Sukkos, however, there was a change each day in the number of bullocks offered, and each day is viewed as a separate unit, requiring a new recital of the complete Hallel.
In the Midrash we find another explanation. On the seventh day of Pesach the Egyptian pursuers of the liberated Israelites drowned in the Yam Suf. This is, therefore, not a day in which to sing praise to Hashem in the form of the entire Hallel. One reason is because of King Solomon's warning (Proverbs 24:17) that "You shall not rejoice in the fall of your enemy" (Beis Yosef on the Tur, Orach Chaim 490). Another reason is because we recall what Hashem told the angels when they wanted to sing His praise at the time when the Yam Suf split to save the Israelites and drown the Egyptians: "My creations are drowning in the sea and you wish to sing My praises!"
The Turei Zahav adds that even though this latter reason applies only to the seventh day, we also refrain from saying the entire Hallel on the days of Chol Hamo'ed in order not to give the intermediate days of the festival a more important status than the final day(s) when the activities permitted on Chol Hamo'ed are prohibited.
Why was it necessary to supply the explanation of the Midrash in addition to the one given in our Gemara?
One answer that has been offered is that two reasons for saying the entire Hallel are found in our Gemara: 1) A day that is called a "Mo'ed" in the Torah and in which work is prohibited. (Shabbos is eliminated because it is not a Mo'ed, and Rosh Chodesh is eliminated because work is not prohibited.) 2) A day when a great miracle took place (Chanukah's eight days). Pesach contains both elements. It is a Mo'ed in which there is a ban on work, and it is a time when the miracles of the Exodus and Splitting of the Sea took place. While the reason given in our Gemara is sufficient to explain why the holiday aspect does not require entire Hallel for the entire festival, we still need the reason of the Midrash to explain why we do not recite the entire Hallel in praise of the miracles which took place.
The Seven Year SearchThere is a historical tradition that it took the Israelites under the leadership of Yehoshua seven years to conquer the Land of Canaan promised to them by Hashem, and another seven years to divide the land amongst the twelve tribes.
What is the source in Tanach for this tradition?
When the time came for dividing the land Kalev ben Yefuneh approached Yehoshua and reminded him of the experience they shared when they were sent by Moshe as spies together with the representatives of ten other tribes to explore the land. He recalls that he was 40 years old at that time (Yehoshua 14:7) and mentions that he is now 85 (14:10). Since we know that Moshe did not send the spies until the second year following the Exodus from Egypt we must conclude that Kalev was 38 at the time of the Exodus and 78 when they crossed the Yarden into Eretz Yisrael 40 years later. If he was 85 when the conquest was completed and the division began, we arrive at the conclusion that the conquest took seven years.
This explains how we know that the conquest took seven years. But how do we know that the division of the land also took seven years?
One of the Gemara's answers to this question is based on the need to reconcile a passage in chapter 40 of Yechezkel with our historical tradition of when the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed. This reconciliation is impossible without assuming that the conquest and division together required 14 years. The other answer of the Gemara is that we must assume that if conquest took seven years the division took seven years as well.
This is difficult to understand if it is based on logical speculation, for one can easily see that conquest could take considerably longer than division. Perhaps the key to understanding this statement is to be found in the words of Tosefos who raises a question concerning the Gemaras calculation of Kalevs age at the time he entered Eretz Yisrael. Tosefos explains that the Gemaras approach is that there seems to be no reason for Scripture to record Kalevs account of his age at these two points in his history so we must assume that it was intended to serve as a written source for our tradition that the conquest took seven years. We may therefore extend this line of reasoning and conclude that if there is no written record of the duration of the division process we are expected to assume that it was similar to the duration of the conquest seven years.