Chanukah @ Shemayisrael

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

Why are we required to have a festive meal on Purim and not on Chanukah?

<><> At the time of the Purim decree, almost all the bnei Yisroel lived in the lands lorded over by Achashveirosh. The lives of almost all the bnei Yisroel were in danger. When they were saved the Rabbis instituted a festive meal to celebrate their redemption. At the time of the Chanukah decree, many bnei Yisroel lived outside Eretz Yisroel and the decrees did not affect them. Therefore the Rabbis did not institute having a festive meal.

Alternatively, at the time of the Chanukah decree the Beis Hamikdosh was standing and it protected the bnei Yisroel from harm. The miracle of the bneiYisroel's being saved was therefore limited. At the time of the Purim decree the Beis Hamikdosh was unfortunately not standing and being saved under this circumstance was a much greater miracle, hence the Purim seudoh. (Rabbi Azarioh Fig`o in Binoh L'itim)

~~~~ The Medrash Tanchuma on parshas T'tza'veh says that a phenomenal miracle took place with the menorah of the Mishkon. It was lit once annually, and would not extinguish for the whole year.

The obvious question on this is: We have a DAILY mitzvoh to light the menorah. If so, even if the lights do not extinguish themselves, we must do the daily mitzvoh. The Chidushei Hori"m, based on the words of the gemara Beitzoh 22a, answers that just as we find that when a fire is already burning and one adds fuel on Shabbos, he has transgressed the prohibition against kindling a fire, similarly, by added a tad of oil daily, we have fulfilled the daily requirement to kindle the menorah.

If so, it seems that we have a major problem with understanding the words of the Sh.O. O.Ch. 675:2, that one does not fulfill the mitzvoh of kindling his Chanukah menorah if he originally placed a minimal amount of fuel into his menorah, which does not have sufficient fuel to burn throughout the required amount of time, even if he refueled his candelabrum later while it was still burning. This is because there is a ruling of "hadlokoh o'soh mitzvoh," that all requirements of the lighting be in place at the moment of lighting, including that we have placed sufficient fuel into the menorah so that the lights will burn for the full amount of time required. This also disqualifies lighting the menorah in a drafty place, where it most likely will be extinguished, and even if one had the intention of immediately moving it, and had indeed done so, he has not fulfilled the requirements of lighting the Chanukah lights.

Since the lighting of our Chanukah menorah is based on the miracle that took place with the menorah of the Beis Hamikdosh, just as there, by adding fuel we have fulfilled the daily requirement of lighting, by Chanukah too, why don't we consider the addition of fuel to an already burning light as proper fulfillment of the mitzvoh?

<><> Although the lighting of our Chanukah menorah is fashioned after that of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh, nevertheless, there is a difference. The mitzvoh of the Mikdosh is only one of LIGHTING. The Rabbis instituted that the Chanukah lights incorporate a second concept as well, and that is the publicizing of the miracle. This requires having the lights burn for a prescribed amount of time. If this is not inherent at the time of the lighting, a requirement based on "hadlokoh o'soh mitzvoh," because the amount of fuel is insufficient, the second aspect of the mitzvoh has not been fulfilled, and therefore the mitzvoh has not been done. (Rabbi Yechiel Mechel Feinstein)

~~~~ HA'NEIROS HALOLU - The Mishnoh V'ruroh on 676:2 writes that from the second night of Chanukah and onwards, one should position himself closer/closest to the light he plans to first light, and when lighting to move his hand with the fire directly to that wick, so that he not pass over it and go on to light a farther distanced wick. If he was to skip over the closest wick he would contravene the law of "ein maavirin al hamitzvos," one may not pass over a mitzvoh that he is now ready to fulfill. Why when lighting for Shabbos, when numerous wicks are lit, is this not necessary? (As a matter of fact, it is more desirable to light those farther/farthest away if they are in two or more rows, so that one not run the risk of being singed or burned by the closer lights when passing over them to light the farther ones. This bit of advice is given by the mishnoh Yoma 52b and Tomid 33a to the Kohein Godol when sprinkling the incense upon the coals in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur.)

<><> Once one has lit the first Chanukah light he has fulfilled the basic mitzvoh. The rest of the lights are relegated to only being "mehadrin" lights. By skipping over the first light and lighting another one first, one is lowering the level of the light that is closest. This is true "ein maavirin al hamitzvos." When one lights Shabbos lights, although one light is sufficient, nevertheless, the lighting is for "oneg Shabbos," to delight oneself on Shabbos with good illumination. The more the merrier, and each light contributes to this same theme. Thus every light has the same status, and there is no relegating to a lower level, no matter which is lit first, second, etc. (Rabbi Y. Gutman)

~~~~ HA'NEIROS HALOLU ONU MADLIKIM - The gemara Shabbos 23b says that if a person filled a vessel with fuel, placed numerous wicks into it, and placed a cover on top so that the wicks cannot join each other, if a number of people light the wicks, they have each fulfilled the mitzvoh of lighting the Chanukah lights.

Rabbi Shmuel Salant says that this ruling is only true when they have lit the wicks at the SAME TIME, but if they lit the wicks one person after the other, only the first person has fulfilled the mitzvoh, since his single lit wick would eventually consume all the fuel in the vessel, it is as if the others have lit with insufficient or no fuel. He proves his point from a ruling in Sh.O. Ch.M. 418:4. If someone has lit his neighbour's object and it would have been totally consumed by the fire if left alone, if a second person adds fire or increases the first fire, the second person does not have to pay for damages, as the first person's lighting would have brought about the same result. If this is so, why when only one person lights all the wicks in the above described scenario does he fulfill not only the basic mitzvoh of lighting one Chanukah light, but also the mitzvoh of "mehadrin," of lighting the number of lights as the number of days of Chanukah? His first lit wick will consume all the fuel. Obviously he cannot light all the wicks simultaneously? Yet Sh.O. O.Ch. 671:4 says that he has fulfilled "mehadrin" as well.

<><> Lighting the basic one light has been fulfilled. Once a person has done this properly, the mitzvoh of "mehadrin" to light the amount corresponding to the number of days can also be fulfilled by factually lighting more wicks. This mitzvoh is secondary to the basic lighting of one light, and as long as the rest have factually been lit and will burn the required time, the aspect of "mehadrin" is fulfilled. It is only in the case where OTHERS after the first one who lights want to fulfill the BASIC "hadlokoh," with or without "mehadrin," that we say that they are left with no fuel for their lighting, as it will all be consumed by the first wick. (Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach)

~~~~ ONU MADLIKIM - TheTa"z on O.Ch. #679 writes that if a person forgot to light the Chanukah lights and has accepted Shabbos, although he may now not light them himself, he should ask another person in his household to light for him. The gemara Kidushin 23b and Nozir 12a says that whatever a person cannot himself do, he cannot appoint a "shliach," an agent, to do for him. If so, since this person now has the restrictions of Shabbos upon him, how can he appoint a "shliach" to do this for him?

<><> Four answers given in Sefer M'rafsin Igri:

1) Accepting Shabbos early, "tosfos Shabbos," is a matter that one can have annulled by a Rabbinic court if they find good reason to annul his acceptance. Since this is a possibility, even if not actually carried out, we give the person the status of "hu motzi ovid," - he himself is capable of doing the assignment. This concept is clearly stated in Tosfos on the gemara Nozir 12a d.h. "Mai taama." (Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman shlit"a)

2) The fulfillment of this mitzvoh is not strictly a "shliach" fulfillment. The mitzvoh is placed upon all members of the household. The person who accepted Shabbos early, even if he is the head of the household, has his responsibility filled when any adult in the household does the lighting. (Rabbi Chaim Kanievski shlit"a)

3) He himself is actually able to do the lighting. It is only the prohibition to not light a fire on "tosfos Shabbos" that stops him. The rule that one cannot appoint an agent only applies when it is impossible for him to do the act himself. (Rabbi Chaim Pinchos Sheinberg shlit"a)

4) Not being able to do the act himself does not mean that he cannot do it, but rather, that not only can he not do it, but that he also has no possibility to do it in any manner. For example: We have a proof that Kohanim who do the service in the Beis Hamikdosh are Hashe's appointed agents and not ours, since we cannot do the service. We cannot do it in any case or manner. However, even though a slave cannot receive a writ of emancipation from his master and have ownership of it, a requirement of "get shichrur," because whatever he owns immediately becomes his master's, and thus it reverts back to his master and he has not possessively received it (opinion of Rabbi Shimon ben Elozor), nevertheless, the gemara Kidushin 23b says that he can appoint an agent to accept his "get shichrur" because he has the ability to be an agent to receive a "get shichrur" for another person's slave. He thus is in the realm of receiving a "get shichrur" in a certain given case. This ability, albeit limited, gives him the status of being a recipient of a "get shichrur," and he is capable of appointing an agent. We can similarly say that although the person who has accepted Shabbos upon himself and cannot now himself light, nevertheless, he can appoint an agent because he has the mitzvoh to light on a weeknight. (Rabbi Aharon Pinchos)

~~~~ ONU MADLIKIM - Sh.O. O.Ch. 676:5 says that on the first night of Chanukah we should place the light in the position farthest to the right of the menorah. On the second night if we are lighting 2 lights we should place a second light to the left of the first, and light the one to our left first. This is based on the opinion of Mahar"i Kolon shoresh #184. Trumas Ha'deshen #106 writes that this is the custom of the people of Reiness and the Mahara"m, to light from left to right, in keeping with the dictum that all turns should be from left to right (gemara Yoma 16b), but the people of Austreich light from right to left, emulating the manner in which we write Loshon Hakodesh, from right to left. The Trumas Ha'deshen attempts to find common ground by saying that when one has a mezuzoh on the right doorpost of the doorway in which he is lighting, then the menorah is to the left, and one should start from the leftmost position because it is closer to the door opening, the custom of Reiness. The custom of the people of Austreich is proper when there is no mezuzoh on the doorpost. We then favour the rightmost position for lighting because the menorah is placed on the right side and the rightmost light is closest to the door opening. He explains that the reason mentioned by the Mahara"m that we should turn from left towards right applies when the menorah is placed parallel to the door opening. The one who lights can be standing on either side of the menorah. Because one should go from left to right he should stand on the room side and light from left to right rather than on the outside, where if he were to light from left to right the first light would be closer to the right doorpost. The Beis Yoseif writes that we should follow the custom of the people of Reiness and always light the newest light first, and from left to right, regardless of the positioning of the menorah.

The Maharsha"l writes that one should specifically place the menorah parallel to the door opening so that all the lights are equally distanced from the door opening, and light from left to right.

The L'vush says that one should light the right light first and that this is in keeping with the dictum of " all turns to the right." This means that when beginning something, turn to the right and begin there, just as we do when we write Loshon Hakodesh, and it does not mean to begin at the left and work our way to the right. He therefore favours the opinion of Austreich. The Ta"z agrees with the L'vush.

The GR"A has a most interesting comment on the Mahar"i Kolon. The Mahar"i Kolon says to make the blessing on the ADDED light from the second night onwards. The GR"A says this opinion has no "taam v'rei'ach," it is unfathomable. Why should one make the blessing on "mehadrin" and forsake making the blessing on the basic mandatory mitzvoh of kindling just one light. Therefore he says the blessing should be made on the original first light. I don't understand this. The Mahar"i Kolon is only describing the position of the added light, but when kindling it we are making the blessing on the FIRST light, and not on a "mehadrin" light.

The concept of placing the lights from right to left as they increase, and lighting from left to right is explained by the Chasam Sofer in a manner that is in consonance with writing Loshen Hakodesh. Loshon Hakodesh is read from right to left and is likewise written from right to left. However, each letter on its own, stroke by stroke, is formed from left to right. For example: The letter Beis is made up of two parallel horizontal strokes that are joined up on their right side by one vertical stroke. The horizontal strokes are formed beginning at the left and end at the right. Thus we write letter by letter from right to left, but each individual stroke is executed from left to right. Similarly, we PLACE the lights starting from the right, but KINDLE from left to right.

Symbolically, this is the theme of the lighting of "ner Chanukah." We light at night, a time symbolic of spiritual darkness, and through the "lighting of the darkness" we rectify the negative and bring it into the camp of the positive. The left side is symbolic of negativity, of darkness. We draw the left to the right, to the light of Torah.

~~~~ MOSARTO GIBORIM B'YAD CHALOSHIM - Why were the Chashmono'im considered weak?

<><> We once answered that Targum on Shmuel 1:2:4 says that the Chashmono'im were indeed weak. Another answer: The gemara M'iloh 17a relates that the wicked government once decreed that Shabbos not be kept, that circumcision not be performed, and that the laws of "nidoh" not be kept. Rabbi Shimon ben Astrobli came in front of the government officials to plead the bnei Yisroel's case. He simply asked, "If one has an enemy, should he weaken him of strengthen him?" They immediately answered, "Obviously, they should weaken him." He responded, "If so, allow the bnei Yisroel to keep their practice of circumcision because it weakens them." They accepted his reasoning and withdrew the ruling against circumcision. We see from this that one who is circumcised is considered weak. We can now understand MOSARTO GIBORIM B'YAD CHALOSHIM to mean that Hashem has given the uncircumcised Greeks into the hands of the circumcised bnei Yisroel. (Rabbi Boruch Bendit of Lask)

Alternatively, these are perceived characteristics. The bnei Yisroel are modest and consider themselves WEAK in fulfilling their spiritual obligations. The Greeks felt they were lacking nothing in their behaviour, hence GIBORIM. (Kedushas Levi)

~~~~ V'KOVU SHMONAS Y'MEI CHANUKAH EILU - The word "eilu" seems superfluous. Although we have a set calendar nowadays, and each month always has either 29 or 30 days, Kislev and Tei'veis are exceptions, as either can be either 29 or 30 days long. If the Rabbis would set Chanukah on the exact days of the calendar that the 8 day miracle took place, if Kislev was a 30 day month in the year of the miracle, and we are presently in a Kislev of only 29 days, we would celebrate Chanukah for one calendar day beyond when the miracle actually took place. If it took place during a 29 day Kislev and we are presently in a 30 day Kislev, we would not be celebrating Chanukah on the final calendar day that was part of the 8 day miracle. The Rabbis decided to establish Chanukah for 8 days starting with the 25th of Kislev, independent of the calendar days upon which it would occur. Possibly, this is the intention of the added word "eilu." They established THESE 8 days, regardless of which day the final calendar day of Chanukah is. (Nirreh li)

A freilichen Chanukah!

Chanukah @ Shemayisrael