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Parashat Mikeitz 5762

In response to last week's discussion of the various versions of the Berachah for the Chanukah lights Rabbi Y. Yizraeli wrote (my translation, M.K.):

An explanation of the difference of opinion among the Poskim about the Berachah for the Chanukah candles

There is a difference of opinion between the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch as to the wording of the Berachah to be recited at the lighting of the Chanukah lights. The Rambam states that the concluding words are lehadlik ner shel Chanukah ('to light the candle of Chanukah') while the Shulchan Aruch states that the wording is lehadlik ner Chanukah ('to light the Chanukah candle'). [The Magen Avraham quotes the Maharsha"l, and the Be'er Heiteiv quotes the Shela"h that the wording is lehadlik ner shelaChanukah ('to light the candle of Chanukah') in one word.] Why then is it that in lighting the Shabbat candles all agree that the word shel is included, while the Shulchan Aruch states that for Chanukah the wording is lehadlik ner Chanukah? [see Shaarei Teshuvah who explains the difference between these wordings].

We must also investigate why it is that both on Shabbat and Chanukah we mention the time [Shabbat and Chanukah] in the Berachah for lighting, whereas when eating Matza on Pesach, or taking the Lulav, or sitting in the Sukka on Sukkot, or hearing the Shofar on Rosh haShana, we do not mention the occasion in the Berachah! This may be explained by pointing out that as one lights lights every evening to provide light, there was a need to emphasize in the Berachah that this is not an ordinary candle like those of every evening, rather it is a Mitzvah particular to Shabbat and Chanukah. However there is another difference between lighting the Shabbat candles and the taking of the Lulav and the other Mitzvot mentioned. Although all these are positive commandments to be carried out at a specified time, eating Matza, taking the Lulav, sitting in the Sukka, and hearing the Shofar, are Mitzvot which we have been commanded to do, and the time is the occasion on which we are commanded to do this. Lighting Shabbat candles is different: it is for the honor and pleasure of Shabbat, not a case of there being a Mitzvah to light; rather Shabbat being the occasion, rather to honor and give pleasure to Shabbat - light a candle! It is this that makes it essential to say ner shel Shabbat, for in the other Mitzvot that were mentioned above, the time is not part of the Mitzvah it is the occasion. In the case of the light for Shabbat however, Shabbat is the reason for the Mitzvah - of its very essence.

It would seem that the Shulchan Aruch took the Mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah candles as being a Mitzvah of lighting, and its time is Chanukah; like the Mitzvah to eat Matza, when? On Pesach. Therefore the reason that Chanukah is mentioned in the Berachah only because of the first reason given above, i.e. to distinguish this light of Mitzvah from every-day light. However the Rambam maintained that just as the Shabbat light is for the honor and pleasure of Shabbat, so the Chanukah lights make these days into days of thanksgiving, for in the Beraita (Shabbat, 21b) it says 'the following year these days were fixed as holidays with Hallel ('Praise') and Hodaya ('Thanksgiving')'. Rashi explained that 'Thanksgiving' means adding Al haNissim to the Thanksgiving blessing, but the Rambam understood it to mean the lighting of the candles (so the Rambam was explained by Mahara"y, and this is implicit in the Rambam's Hil. Chanukah 3:3). Therefore according to the Rambam, who maintains that lighting the candles is an act making these days into days of thanksgiving, the wording of the Berachah is as on Shabbat lehadlik ner shel Chanukah. According to the Shulchan Aruch however, where Chanukah is only mentioned to establish that it is a Mitzvah light, it is sufficient to say lehadlik ner Chanukah not like on Shabbat ner shel Shabbat.

* * * *

One word, two meanings

hanimtza (Gen. 41:38) (either 'will we find?' or 'is there to be found?') This word is to be found in two conjugations, i.e. verbs of a similar structure, in differing tenses, masculine and feminine, singular and plural, 1st 2nd and 3rd person. Here we will set out parts of those conjugations that will help us understand the problem of possible ambiguity.

Kal, future, masculine: I amtza, you timtza, he yimtza, we nimtza, you timtze'u, they yimtze'u. Nif'al, past, masculine: I nimtzeiti, you nimtzeita, he nimtza, we nimtzeinu, you nimtzeitem, they nimtze'u.

Rashi following Onkelos says 'will we find?' maintaining that it is Kal, future, and Radak has the same opinion. However according to R' A. ibn Ezra both conjugations are possible in this context: 'Can there be found in the world?' (Nif'al, past), and 'will we find? ' (Kal, future).

I will be pleased to have comments on these notes on the Parasha.
Good Shabbos, Meshullam Klarberg, 35/4 Meshech Chochma, Kiryat Sefer, Israel 71919
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