BLESSING ON HALLEL ON SEDER NIGHT [Hallel: Seder night: Berachah]
(Mishnah): Anything that requires a Berachah afterwards requires a Berachah beforehand, but there is something that requires a Berachah beforehand but does not require a Berachah afterwards.
The Seifa exempts (nice) smells from a Berachah Acharonah.
Ta'anis 28b: Rav came to Bavel and saw them reciting Hallel on Rosh Chodesh. He thought that he should stop them. Once he heard that they skip, he realized that it is a mere custom from their fathers.
(Beraisa): An individual should not start. If he started, he finishes.
Pesachim 117b (Mishnah): We finish Hallel over the fourth cup, and say Birkas ha'Shir.
118a (Rav Yehudah): Birkas ha'Shir is 'Yehalelucha Hash-m Elokecha' (the closing Berachah of Hallel);
(R. Yochanan): 'Nishmas Kol Chai' is also Birkas ha'Shir.
(Beraisa): One should follow the local custom about whether or not to bless afterwards.
(Abaye): This refers only to afterwards, but it is a Mitzvah to bless beforehand:
(Rav Yehudah): On all Mitzvos we bless before doing them.
Rif (Pesachim 26b): The custom is like Rav Yehudah.
Rosh (Pesachim 10:32): Our Gemara proves that one need not bless on Hallel after the meal. If we bless, why did it teach that we say Birkas ha'Shir? We know that we bless Yehalelucha afterwards! However, if we need not bless beforehand, it is a Chidush that even so we bless afterwards. However, we can say that since the Berachah on Hallel depends on custom, like it says (119a), the Mishnah taught that on Pesach night one must bless. The Rif says that it is a mere custom to say Yehalelucha like Rav Yehudah. The Rashbam says that we do like both of them, and close Hallel 'Melech Mehulal ba'Tishbachos'. Then we say Hallel ha'Gadol (Tehilim 136) and close a second time Melech Mehulal ba'Tishbachos. R. Chaim Kohen did not close Yehalelucha with Baruch Atah Hash-m Melech Mehulal ba'Tishbachos, since we must close Yishtabach with these words. Why should we close the same ending twice?!
Rambam (Hilchos Chanukah 3:7): on Rosh Chodesh reciting Hallel is a custom. It is not a Mitzvah. Therefore, we do not bless, for we do not bless on customs.
R. Yonah (Berachos 7b DH v'Nir'eh): The Rambam holds that we do not bless on customs, like it says (Sukah 44b) about banging the Aravah. This proof is weak. Not all customs are the same. We merely bang the Aravah, so we do not bless on it. Hallel has praise of Hash-m, so we bless on it. Yom Tov Sheni is only a custom, since we know when the months are fixed. Why do we bless on Hallel of Yom Tov Sheni? R. Tam brought proof from Rav that we bless on Rosh Chodesh. It did not say 'he entered a Beis ha'Keneses', rather, 'he came to a Beis ha'Keneses', which connotes that he was there before they began. He saw that they bless, therefore he thought to stop them. If they did not bless, why should he stop them? What is wrong if they recite verses?! Rather, they blessed, and he thought that they finish Hallel. This is like adding their own Yom Tov.
Ran (Pesachim 26a DH Mai): Since we bless on Pesach night after Hallel, this connotes that we bless beforehand Ligmor Es ha'Hallel, like whenever we finish it. Anything that requires a Berachah afterwards, requires a Berachah beforehand (Nidah 51b)! In Maseches Sofrim (20:9), R. Shimon ben Yehotzadak says that we finish Hallel on 18 days and one night, i.e. Pesach. In Chutz la'Aretz, it is on both nights. It is best to recite Hallel in the Beis ha'Keneses and bless, and say it sweetly. One need not bless at home, for he already blessed b'Rabim. This implies that one must bless at home if he did not bless in the Beis ha'Keneses. Erchin 10b brought this teaching, but did not mention Pesach night. It does not discuss Hallel of a Mitzvah. This is why it omits Hallel at the time of Shechitas Korban Pesach.
Ran (ibid.): The Yerushalmi said that a Berachah begins with Baruch unless it is Samuch (right after) another Berachah. It asked about the Berachah of Ge'ulah (at the Seder), and answered that if one heard it in the Beis ha'Keneses, he was Yotzei. The Ramban explained that it asked why the Berachah of Ge'ulah begins with Baruch, since it is Samuch to the first Berachah of Hallel. The questioner thought that we bless Ligmor Es ha'Hallel before the first two Perakim, and 'Chosem b'Ge'ulah' means that the Berachah of Ge'ulah is the Berachah after them. It answered that if one heard it in the Beis ha'Keneses, he was Yotzei and does not bless before Hallel at home, therefore it begins with Baruch. It asked from Yehalelucha, the final Berachah of Hallel, and answered that we bless it only where we blessed before Hallel, i.e. in the Beis ha'Keneses or at home.
Rebuttal (Ran): Why did it needed to answer that sometimes we bless on Hallel in the Beis ha'Keneses? Ge'ulah is a Berachah of Hoda'ah. It need not begin with Baruch! Rather, the Yerushalmi said that Ge'ulah is not Samuch to the Berachah before Hallel, rather, it was enacted for the second cup. We asked why Yehalelucha is different. Also it was enacted on the fourth cup! We answered that primarily, Yehalelucha is for Hallel, for we always say it after Hallel. In any case we learn that we bless beforehand. Even though there is a Hefsek in the middle, this does not invalidate the Semichus, just like there is Tefilah in between the Teki'os before Musaf and during Musaf.
The Ramban says that this is like Birkas ha'Torah (in the Tzibur). It was initially enacted that the first person to recite blesses beforehand, and the last blesses afterwards and exempts all who recite. Since it is all one Mitzvah, this is not a Hefsek. Likewise, the Seudah is not a Hefsek in the Berachah of Hallel on Pesach night. Even though the last Berachah of Birkas ha'Torah is Samuch to the first, it begins with Baruch because the one who blesses it did not bless the first Berachah.
Ran (DH AVal): Rav Hai Gaon says that we do not bless on Hallel on Pesach night, for we do not say it like recitation, rather, like Shirah. The Ge'onim Rav Tzemach and Rav Yosef and the Ritz Gei'us agreed. They must hold that Yehalelucha is not a Berachah on Hallel, rather, on the fourth cup. This is why it is called Birkas ha'Shir. The Gemara in Sukah discusses Hallel. It did not ask what is the Berachah Acharonah, for this was known. Birkas ha'Shir does not begin with Baruch, for it is praise, like the Berachah for rain.
Question (Ran): If so, also the Berachah of Ge'ulah should not begin with Baruch! It seems that Yehalelucha is Samuch to Asher Ga'alnu. Both of them are for the Chidush of Pesach night, i.e. the second and fourth cups. The first and third cups are normal, i.e. Kidush and Birkas ha'Mazon. Therefore, the fourth is considered Samuch. Alternatively, since Yehalelucha is Samuch when we say Hallel, Chachamim did not want to enact another text for Pesach night, lest people begin it with Baruch when it is Samuch. This is like I explained the Yerushalmi above. The Yerushalmi said that the primary enactment was in the Beis ha'Keneses, and not in the house. The Rashba explains that therefore one does not bless in his house, for Chachamim made matters uniform.
Tosfos (10b DH Yud): One should follow R. Tam. Even an individual blesses also beforehand. Even though he is not obligated to say Hallel, once he decides to do so, it is not a Berachah Levatalah, just like women bless on the Lulav even though they are exempt.
Shulchan Aruch (OC 422:2): On Rosh Chodesh, some say that the Tzibur blesses before Hallel "Likro Es ha'Hallel" and afterwards, Yehalelucha.
Beis Yosef (DH u'Mah she'Chasav Rabeinu v'Chosmim): In Pesachim (117b) the Mishnah says that we finish Hallel over the fourth cup, and say Birkas ha'Shir. The Gemara says that this is Yehalelucha.
Taz (3): Even when we say full Hallel, we do not bless Ligmor, lest one omit a word and his Berachah was Levatalah. The Rosh holds that even if he skipped and blessed Ligmor, he was Yotzei.
Shulchan Aruch (487:4): On the first night of Pesach we finished Hallel b'Tzibur in a pleasant voice and a Berachah at the beginning and end. The same applies to the second night in Chutz la'Aretz.
Kaf ha'Chayim (36): On all other Yomim Tovim and Shabbos, the worlds ascend one level at a time, therefore we do not say Hallel until the morning. On Pesach they all ascend at once, therefore we say full Hallel already at night.
Kaf ha'Chayim (38): Even if one is in a place where they do not say Hallel in the Beis ha'Keneses, he may say it there with a Berachah.
Rema: This is not our custom. We do not say Hallel in the Beis ha'Keneses at night at all.
Gra (DH v'Chol): This is because it was not enacted (in the Beis ha'Keneses) for people who know how to say it. A Tosefta (Pesachim 10:5) says that if people in a city have no one to recite Hallel, they go to the Beis ha'Keneses, recite the first Perek, go home, eat and drink and come back and finish it. The Yerushalmi connotes like this. It says 'if one heard it in the Beis ha'Keneses, he was Yotzei.'
Kaf ha'Chayim (45): Nowadays, some Ashkenazi congregations say it in the Beis ha'Keneses.