Chanukah @ Shemayisrael

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher


~ Chanukah is unique in that it is the only holiday that extends over two months, Kislev and Teves. This is explained by Rabbi Aharon Luria. The Tur O.Ch. #417 says that the twelve months of the year correspond to the twelve tribes, each month having its corresponding tribal nature. Starting with the month of Nison, we have Reuvein, and continue in this order. If so, the ninth and tenth months correspond to Gad and Asher. The two miracles of Chanukah are the victory in war and the extended burning of the lights of the menorah. Gad represents the warrior, as per the blessings of Yaakov in parshas Va'yichi (49:19), and Moshe's blessings in parshas V'zose Habrochoh (33:20). Similarly, Asher's blessing was an abundance of oil, also, both in parshas Va'yichi (49:20) and V'zose Habrochoh (33:24). It is therefore most befitting to have Chanukah take place during both these months.

(A most interesting allusion arises, based on this insight, to a well-known answer to the famous question raised by the Beis Yoseif, - Why do we kindle 8 lights during Chanukah? Since there was sufficient oil for one night, the miracle took place on only 7 nights. - The answer is that the lighting of one night is a memorial for the miraculous victory in battle, and indeed, we only kindle for 7 nights for the menorah miracle. As just stated, Gad is the tribe that encompasses the power to vanquish the enemy in war. The verse in the Torah which states Leah's name giving to Gad is in Breishis 30:11, "Vatomer Leah bogod vatikra es shmo Gad." The word "bogod" is written (ksiv) as one word, but read (kri) as two, "bo god." The number of words in this verse in "ksiv' is seven, while in "kri" it is eight. This alludes to seven lights by virtue of the menorah oil miracle (Asher), and an eighth lighting by virtue of the victory at war (Gad). (Nirreh li)

Another answer "comes to light" based on the theme of Chanukah, the Greek ideology versus the Torah, as explained by the Pachad Yitzchok. Heralding in the new month or adding a month to the calendar year by an edict of the Jewish court embodies the concept of the power of the Torah to permeate and master over the physical. There is a physical phenomenon that a girl under the age of three cannot lose her virginity. The Talmud Yerushalmi K'subos 2:1, N'dorim 6:8, and Sanhedrin 1:2 derives from the verse in T'hilim 57:3, "Lo'Keil gomeir oloy" that if a girl had passed her third birthday in the month of Adar and had then lost her virginity, if the court afterwards decides to add an additional month of Adar, and this will push her birthday forward by a month, and in turn she slips back to being under three years of age, the moment the court announces the additional month, her virginity physically returns. Similarly, if her third birthday was the first of the month and she lost her virginity on that day and then the court announced that that day would be changed to be the 30th of the previous month, her virginity would physically return. The Greeks could not accept this concept of the power of the Torah mastering over the physical and therefore attempted to abolish the court announcing the new moon or adding an additional month to the lunar calendar. It is therefore most befitting that Rosh Chodesh take place during Chanukah.

~ "Kaf achas asoroh zohov m'lei'oh k'to'res" (Bmidbar 7:14). This verse, mentioned every one of the twelve days of the dedication of the Mikdosh, carries an allusion of the halochos of Chanukah, the holiday whose name means dedication. The letters of these words serve as a mnemonic for the following: "KaF" - Kof Pochose, that the lights should be below twenty amos, "ACHaS" - Alef Ches Tadlik, that you should kindle one light the first night up to eight the last, "ASoRoH" - Ad Shetichleh Regel Hashuk, "ZoHoV" - Zmano Bein Hashmoshos, "M'LEi'oH" - Mitzvoh L'hadlik Eitzel Ha'pesach, "K'ToReS" - Korov Rochav Tefach Tadlik, that you should light the menorah in a position where it is within a handbreadth from the door frame. (Admor Rabbi Zvi Hersh of Ziditchov)


~ 21b - "Mai Chanukah, …… yoma d'Chanukah samnia inun …… v'lo hoyoh vo ella l'hadlik yom echod v'naa'seh vo nes v'hidliku vo ches yomim," - What is Chanukah? …… the days of Chanukah are eight …… and there was not in it but enough to burn for one day and a miracle took place in it and they lit it for eight days. - The question posed seems quite unusual. Rather than ask, "What is Chanukah," something that everyone knows, it would seem logical to ask, "Why is Chanukah celebrated for eight days" or the like. As well, the answer doesn't directly deal with the name Chanukah, rather only with the historical happening and the miracle.

The gemara assumes that we already know that the Beis Hamikdosh was defiled and was rededicated. The gemara's question is, "Why is the holiday named Chanukah rather than 'Chinuch,'" the male form. The Holy Alshich explains the word "m'rivOH" in "Al noh s'hi m'rivOH beini uveinecho" (Breishis 13:7), rather than "riv," which also means a disagreement, as follows: "Riv" is the male form, while "m'rivoh" is the female form. An argument in its initial stage is just that, a limited disagreement. If no solution is found the disagreement takes on a life of its own and grows and grows. The gemara Sanhedrin 7a equates an argument to a stream of water, which is narrow at the outset, but once it widens, it turns into a powerful, broad stream. This is like a female, who gives birth to numerous children. Avrohom told Lote that they already had a "riv" on their hands. Rather than having it spiral into a "m'rivOH," female form, he offered the solution of their parting ways. Our gemara's answer is that since historically the flask had only sufficient oil to burn one night, and in spite of this it had the miraculous power to expand its burning capacity to eight nights, this is like a "riv" turning into a "m'rivoh." Therefore the female form, "ChanukAH" is used. (Rabbi Yoseif Shaul Natanson in Divrei Shaul)

~ 21b - "V'naa'seh VO nes v'hidliku VO" - The word VO, in it, seems superfluous. However, the gemara is alluding to a most important concept. Had the gemara only said "v'naa'seh nes," it could be interpreted to mean that a miracle took place and ex nihilo, "yeish mei'ayin," oil was used. This was not the case. Similarly, by the miracle of the almost never-ending oil by Elisha, an "osuch shemen" was available, which miraculously expanded. "V'naas'seh VO nes," means through preexisting oil.

~ 21b - "Pach echod shel shemen shehoyoh munach b'chosomo shel Kohein Godol" - Rabbi Zvi Elimelech of Dinov asks why the gemara didn't say, "Shehoyoh CHOSUM b'chosomo shel Kohein godol." He answers that the intention of the gemara is not that there was a closed seal. Rather, the letter Beis of "B'chosomo" means WITH the Kohein Godol's seal, obviously a ring of great value. Since they found the flask of oil with this ring right next to it, obviously it was not noticed by the Greeks, and the flask of oil was not touched and contaminated.

Tosfos d.h. "shehoyoh munach" says that if the contamination of "heset zov" was already instituted, even if the seal was intact we cannot be sure that the flask wasn't moved. He therefore concludes that we must say that the flask was under the surface of the Mikdosh and thus was not moved even if stepped upon. If it is as the Dinover said, that the ring was right next to the flask, obviously it was out of sight, under the tiled floor of the Mikdosh. Perhaps there was the possibility that it was inside a closed, larger vessel with the ring alongside it, both out of sight, and only because of the "tumas heset" concern are we forced to say that it was underground.

~ 21b - Ad shetichleh regel min hashuk - The Chanukah lights should burn until foot traffic in the public domain comes to an end. Halachic authorities say that this is from 30 to 32 minutes. A recent halachic authority posited that this was true in times past, when the streets were not illuminated. Everyone made it his business to get home within approximately a half hour after sunset, as later than that it is very dark. (Note that from the 25th of Kislev and eight days onwards there is but a sliver of moonlight, and on Rosh Chodesh none at all.) However, these days when we have external lighting, we are all witness to people coming and going at night for a much more extended period of time. He therefore feels that we now must have our Chanukah lights burn for much longer.

The Gri"z Brisker resoundingly dismisses this opinion. He says that "ad shetichleh regel min hashuk" does not mean "until people stop walking in the public domain," and is subject to whatever is prevalent. Rather, it is the set time of approximately one half hour, which in the time of the gemara was readily recognized by noting that people stopped walking in the street. He offers a proof for this from the gemara and the Rambam. The gemara M'nochos 36a says that Rabbi Akiva posits that tefillin must be removed by "ad shetichleh regel min hashuk." Even if one were to say that the Chanukah lights remain lit until people stop walking through the streets, based on the aspect of the mitzvoh creating "pirsumei nisa," publicizing the miracle, there is surely no such concept by tefillin. One must remove his tefillin before night either because there is no mitzvoh at night or because we fear that a person will fall asleep with his tefillin on. This is governed by a set amount of time into the evening. Yet, the same term is used, "ad shetichleh regel min hashuk." As well, the Rambam hilchos Chanukah 4:5 says that if one did not kindle his Chanukah lights at the prescribed time he may still do so "ad shetichleh regel min hashuk." This, he says, is about a half hour or a bit more. If "ad shetichleh regel min hashuk" is open to the prevalent span of time of pedestrian night traffic, how can the Rambam tell us the set time of approximately a half hour? Again, we clearly see that it is a set amount of time, independent of the actual time that people walk in the street in the evening.

~ 21b - "L'shonoh ache'res kvo'um v'aso'um yomim tovim" - Why didn't the Rabbis establish Chanukah as a holiday starting the year of the miracles itself? Some say because many people were in mourning, as their relatives died in battles. We might answer this based on Megilas Chashmono'im, which says that in the year of the miracle the bnei Yisroel took esrogim, hadasim, and arovos. Although I do not know why they left out the lulov, nevertheless, this was obviously Sukos orientated. Megilas Chashmono'im also says that the decrees against the bnei Yisroel continuously increased and on the Sukos just before the Chanukah miracle took place, the Greeks did not allow the bnei Yisroel to offer the Sukos and Shmini Atzeres sacrifices. They also did not allow the taking of the four species. After the victory of the war, the bnei Yisroel took the species as a token gesture to show how greatly they missed the opportunity to do the Sukos mitzvos. With this theme in the air, had the mitzvos of Chanukah been immediately instituted, they would not have ruled that the Chanukah lights begin with one and INCREASE nightly, as this is contrary to the Sukos theme of DECREASING the daily number of oxen. (Nirreh li)

~ 21b - "Ner Chanukah shehinichoh l'maaloh mei'esrim amoh psuloh" - The gemara says that the same applies to the height of "s'chach," the covering of a Sukoh, and a "lechi," a beam that is used to delineate between domains in regard to carrying on Shabbos.

A most beautiful allusion to these words of the gemara is found in Vayikra 23:43, "Ki vasukos hoshavti es bnei Yisroel," because in huts I have placed the bnei Yisroel. The "mesoroh" lists three verses that have the common word "ki." They are this verse in parshas Emor, "Ki vorchove nolin" (Breishis 19:2), and "Ki ner mitzvoh v'Toroh ohr" (Mishlei 6:23). The Chid"o in Pnei Dovid explains the connection. He relates that when he was a child an explanation for this "mesoroh" was asked of a "Chochom" and he gave no verbal response, but instead, wrote the letters Yud-Kof-Lamed-Mem-Nun-Samech-Ayin-Pei on a sheet of paper. Pnei Dovid explains that there are three mitzvos that require/involve placement of at least 10 handbreadths height and no more than twenty cubits. They are Sukoh, that its walls be at least ten handbreadths tall, but no more than twenty cubits high, alluded to in our verse, "ki vasukos," "eiruv," that the placement of a visible object delineating the division between certain domains, a "koreh," (actually for "shitu'fei m'vu'os," but these terms are used interchangeably in the gemara Eiruvin) be placed between these same two distances, alluded to in "ki vorchov nolin," and Chanukah lights, that they too be placed at ten handbreadths from the ground and higher (it is actually preferable according to most authorities to place the menorah below ten handbreadths down to three but no lower, see Sh.O. Och. 671:6 and Mishnoh Bruroh #27), but no more than twenty cubits, alluded to in "ki ner mitzvoh." This is the "mesoroh" connection. We now come to the cryptic Yud-etc. message. It stands for "Yud Kosher L'maaloh Mei'esrim Ner Sukoh Eiruv Posul." I truly hope that this beautiful insight is enhanced and not marred by the following addition: The connection among these three mitzvos, each having the parameters of ten handbreadths and twenty cubits is actually found in the word "ki" itself. Kof has the value of twenty (amos), while Yud has the value of ten (handbreadths). (Nirreh li)

~ 21b - "Kovsoh zokuk loh, Ein zokuk loh" - There is a disagreement in the gemara when one lit the Chanukah lights properly and in spite of this they extinguished. Is one required to rekindle them or not? The halacha is that one is not required to do so. At the end of his writings on Breishis, in the Chanukah section, the Beis haLevi asks, "There is a requirement to light in two doorways when one's house is situated at the corner of two streets, and he has a doorway at each side (O.Ch. #671). This is because some people pass by only one flank of the house and not the other. If he were to only light at one entrance, people passing by the other entrance only, might think that he has been negligent and has not lit Chanukah lights. If so, why isn't one required to rekindle extinguished lights so that passersby not incorrectly conclude that he has not kindled Chanukah lights?

He answers that even the opinion that "kovsoh ein zokuk loh" agrees that one should rekindle because of this concern. "Ein zokuk loh" is only in relation to fulfillment of the basic mitzvoh, not in terms of warding off another concern. However, he concedes that the halachic works do not mention this, and therefore it seems unlikely that this is really so.

Bishvi'lei Chanukah answers the Beis haLevi's question through differentiating between passersby noticing something amiss only once and nightly. If one were to only light in one doorway on one side of the house, he would be doing so nightly, for all eight nights. This would lead a passerby to the wrong conclusion. If only one night the lights were amiss, the passerby would not conclude that the homeowner has neglected the mitzvoh, as there are numerous reasons for his not having lit. He would not come to the same positive conclusion when things are amiss all eight nights.

This line of thought also alleviates the question of the Beis Yoseif on the previously mentioned halacha O.Ch. #671. The gemara Brochos 8b says that one should not pass by the doorway of a synagogue and not enter when people are praying. This is because a passerby might suspect that he has neglected to pray with a congregation. However, if there is a second entrance there is no problem. One would assume that he passed this entrance, but would probably enter through the second entrance. If the gemara assumes that when there is a second entrance the passerby judges him favourably, why not say the same by Chanukah lights, that he would assume that although there are no lights at this entrance to the house, there probably are at the other entrance? By differentiating between a one-time happening and an eight-night occurrence, the Beis Yoseif's question is answered. The onlooker in the gemara Brochos sees this happening this one time, and will judge the person favourably. The person who passes by the house only along one side all eight nights, and does not turn around the corner to see what is or isn't happening on the other side, will not judge him favourably.

~ 23a - The first blessing is "Asher kidshonu b'mitzvosov V'TZIVONU l'hadlik ner (shel) Chanukah." The gemara asks, "Since this is a Rabbinical mitzvoh, how do we say that Hashem has commanded us?" The gemara gives two answers. Rabbi Avia says that it is based on the words "Lo sosur min hadovor asher yagidu l'cho" (Dvorim 17:11). Rabbi Nechemioh says that it is based on the verse "Sh'al ovicho v'ya'geidcho" (Dvorim 32:7).

The Taz in his commentary on Y.D. #1 writes that our Rabbis do not institute a blessing for the fulfillment of a negative command. Aren't his words refuted by Rabbi Avia's source, "lo sosur," a negative command?

The Rambam in hilchos brochos 11:3 sources "v'tzivonu" on the earlier words of the same verse, "Asher yomru l'cho taa'seh." This is a positive command. Although this seems to be contrary to the gemara, as no one offers these words as a source, the ChasaN Sofer explains the opinion of the Rambam.

~ 23a - "Heichon tzivonu, Rav Avia omeir mi'Lo sosur'" (Dvorim 17:11). There is a deeper connection than meets the eye. The verse ends with "asher yagodu l'cho yomin usmole," - which they will relate to you right or left. This is the ruling of where to place the Chanukah lights in the doorway, to the right or to the left. If one lights in a doorway that has no mezuzah on the right post, then he should light on the right side. If he has a mezuzah there, he should light on the left. (Evven Yisroel)


~ "Ha'neiros halolu kodesh heim v'ein lonu r'shus l'hishta'meish bo'hem ella lirosom bilvad" - Once we say that these lights are sanctified and we have no permission to make personal use of them, what is added on by saying that we are only allowed to look at them?

Even though the Chanukah lights are sanctified by virtue of their being uniquely set aside for the mitzvoh, nevertheless, just looking at a mitzvoh item, even if deriving pleasure or benefit from it, is permitted. However, this is only true when the mitzvoh function of the item is not for viewing it. For example, if one were to derive great pleasure from seeing the exquisite craftsmanship invested in the Shulchan, showbread table, of the Mikdosh, he has not transgressed "m'iloh," misuse of Mikdosh vessels. Here, by the Chanukah lights, since the point of the mitzvoh is that we see their light, deriving personal pleasure or benefit from the light is considered misuse, as that is the whole point of the exercise.

This is then the flow of "Ha'neiros halolu kodesh heim v'ein lonu r'shus l'hishta'meish bo'hem ella lirosom bilvad." "Ella lirosom bilvad" is the purpose of the mitzvoh, and therefore we are not allowed to make use of the lights, even just for personal viewing, in contradistinction to other mitzvoh items. (Masas Ha'melech)

~ "Ba'yomim ho'heim bazman ha'zeh" - The Ta"z O.Ch. 682:5 says that there is a variant text of "U'vazman ha'zeh," AND at this time. He elaborates on this and cites the L'vush, who says that when a person gives praise to Hashem for the miracles he has wrought in the distant past, he should at the same time include miracles and salvations that Hashem has done for him in more recent times. This is actually stated in the Rambam hilchos Chanukah 4:12. "The mitzvoh of Chanukah lights ……to publicize the miracle and to add praise to Hashem and to offer thanks for the miracles He has done for us.

~ "Al y'dei Koha'necho hakdoshim" - Why do we point out the Kohanim who are HOLY? The miracle took place in the menorah oil. The light of the menorah represents "Torah she'b'al peh," the Oral Torah. At the time the Chanukah miracle took place there were, unfortunately, some Kohanim who belonged to the Saducees, a group of followers of Tzodok, who did not believe in the "Torah she'b'al peh" interpretations of the Torah. They surely would not accept a mitzvoh introduced by the Rabbis, something the Torah does not implicitly state. By adding "hakdoshim" we are stressing that it was only through the HOLY Kohanim who accepted the interpretations and edicts of our Rabbis, that the miracle took place. (Nirreh li)


~ "Bi'mei Matisyohu ben Yochonon Kohein Godol" - Why mention Matisyohu's father? Perhaps the words "Kohein Godol" refer not only to Matisyohu, but also to his father Yochonon (see Ritv"a on Yoma 9a, Ram"a on Ch.M. 49:7). If so, he might well be the Yochonon Kohein Godol mentioned in the gemara Brochos 29a, who served in the Beis Hamikdosh for 80 years, and at the end of his life he became a Saducee. This is why his name is mentioned here. The Saducees were of the incorrect opinion that the Yom Kipur incense was to be lit in the "heichal" of the Beis Hamikdosh before entering into the Holy of Holies (gemara Yoma 53a). Since he lit it there, his son's rededicating the menorah on Chanukah was a sort of rectification, albeit not of the incense, but at least in the same location (see gemara Yoma 85b) of the wrongdoing. (Possibly, the lighting of the menorah is a corresponding rectification because the menorah symbolizes "Torah she'b'al peh," the Oral Torah, and it was "Torah she'b'al peh" that the Saducees denied.)

Although Yochonon himself did not rectify the wrongdoing, nevertheless, "bro m'za'keh aba," a son brings merit to his father (gemara Sanhedrin 105a).

The mishnoh B.K. 6:6 says that if a camel that is loaded with flax goes down a road and as it walks along some of its flax extends into a shop where a light is burning, its flax is ignited, and as it continues on its trip, the burning flax ignites someone's property, the camel owner is financially responsible. If the shopkeeper placed his fire outside his shop and the same happened, the shopkeeper is responsible. However, if it was Chanukah, even if the shopkeeper placed his Chanukah lights outside his shop, the camel driver is responsible, because on Chanukah permission is given to place your Chanukah lights outside, and in turn the traveling public is responsible to avoid causing a fire.

The storekeeper, CheNVoNI, has the same letters as YOCHoNoN. He is responsible for his wrongdoing. However, through "ner Chanukah," he is "potur," his sin is rectified. (Rabbi Yisroel of Ruzhin)

~ "L'hashkichom Toro'secho" - This phrase seems to indicate that the Greeks did not attempt to eradicate Torah study, but rather, only have the bnei Yisroel ch"v forget Hashem's Holy Torah. The gemara Chagigoh 9a the verse in Malachi 3:18 that says, "V'shavtem ur'i'sem bein tzadik lorosho bein oveid Elokim laasher lo avodo," - You shall contemplate and see the difference between the righteous person and the evil one, between the one who serves Elokim and the one who does not. The gemara says that just as it is well understood that there is a great chasm between the righteous person and the evil person, so too, there is the same great difference between one who serves Elokim through studying a Torah subject 101 one times and one who studies it only 100 times. The Holy Shalo"h says that this insight into the verse is alluded in its words. The first letters of "Oveid Elokim Laasher" have the numerical value of 101. The first letters of "Lo Avodo" have the numerical value of only 100. He explains that when one studies the subject only 100 times the power of forgetting is still present as negative powers have the capacity to affect learning that has not reached 101 times.

The Kli Yokor says the same and also points out that the mathematical spread between the word Shin, Chof, Ches, (forget) = 328, and the word Zayin, Chof, Reish, (remember) = 227, is 101. The determining factor between forgetting and remembering is studying 101 times.

The Greeks were willing to allow the bnei Yisroel to study the Torah as long as their studying was subject to being snagged by negative forces and being forgotten. They were actually more than willing because the Torah study of a "lo avodo" gives strength to negative forces (a Kabalistic concept). This is alluded to in the words "K'she'omdoh malchus Yovon *AL* amcho Yisroel." Rather than use the word "k'neged," AL is used, as its numerical value is 100. They wanted the bnei Yisroel to study only up to 100 times. The miraculous finding of "PaCH echod shemen," which was used for the menorah was the antidote for the Greeks plans. The numerical value of PaCH, Pei-Chof is 100, plus the following word ECHOD = 101. Olive oil is an elixir for remembering the Torah one studied, as per the gemara Horios 13a.

On a daily basis throughout Chanukah we read the donations of the Nsi'im in parshas Nosso. Every reading includes the words "KaF achas." The letters Kof and Fei = 100 and then "achas" = 101. The essence of Chanukah is to study Torah in a pure manner so that it not be subject to corruption and contamination by negative forces, which are "shikchas haTorah." The eighth and final day of Chanukah is called "zose Chanukah," this is the essence of Chanukah. The "nossi" for the eighth day represented Menasheh, whose name means forgetting (Breishis 41:51). This was countered by the "KaF achas," the 101 repeated times a Torah subject is to be studied.

The verse in Iyov 14 says, "Mi yi'tein tohor mito'mei lo echod." This can be interpreted in a similar vein. Who can give the difference between pure Torah study and that which is subject to contamination? Isn't it ONE? This means one more time of reviewing. (Otzros Hatzadikim)

Later on in "Al hanisim" we say "mosarto …… utmei'im b'yad t'horim ursho'im b'yad tzadikim." This likewise can be a continuum of the same concept. The "r'sho'im" refers to the "rosho' of the verse in Malachi, being subject to contamination by evil forces, while the "tzadikim" means pure Torah that cannot be subject to corruption. "T'mei'im" and "t'horim" likewise mean the same, as per the verse in Iyov. (Nirreh li)

~ "Ulcho ossiso Shem godol " - We similarly find the term "l'Shimcho hagodol" towards the end of "Ha'neiro halolu." What is Hashem's LARGE Name? The gemara Yoma 69b cites the verse in Nechemioh 8, "Va'y'vo'reich Ezra es Hashem hoElokim haGODOL." Rabbi Yoseif in the name of Rav explains that this means Hashem's Name is enlarged and enhanced by being verbalized exactly as it is written, called Shem Hamforosh. Rav Gi'del disagrees and posits that Hashem's Name was enhanced by saying, "Boruch Hashem Elokei Yisroel min ho'olom v'ad ho'olom." Abayei asked Rav Dimi why Rav Gi'del did not agree with the previous opinion. He answered that "hagodol" cannot mean Shem Hamforosh because Ezra said it outside of the Beis Hamikdosh, where Shem Hamforosh may not be recited.

We derive two points. Firstly, that everyone agrees that "Shem hagodol" can mean "Shem Hamforosh," only not so outside the Beis Hamikdosh, and secondly, based on the gemara's conclusion, that Shem Hamforosh may not be expressed outside the Beis Hamikdosh. This second point is actually a mishnoh in Tomid.

The Greeks disrupted the Mikdosh service until it was rededicated. In the interim, Shem Hamforosh was not uttered. After the rededication it was used again. This is "Ulcho ossiso Shem GODOL."

Although the common custom is to say "K'dei l'hodos ul'hallel l'Shimcho haGODOL," in "Ha'neiros halolu," based on the text of the Tur, Maseches Sofrim chapter #20 and the Rosh leave out "haGODOL." This disagreement can be explained as follows: The Tur posits that "Ha'neiros halolu" was instituted the year following the Chanukah miracles, and since the Beis Hamikdosh was existent, "haGODOL" is in place. Maseches Sofrim and the Rosh posit that it was instituted later, after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh, and "haGODOL" is not to be recited. (Responsa Binyan Shlomo by Rabbi Shlomo haKohein of Vilna 2:62)


~ The Rambam in hilchos Chanukah 3:1 relates the story of Chanukah and even adds that once the bnei Yisroel's army was victorious they ruled their own country for a time. Although the Rambam does not give us history lessons, here it is appropriate for him to relate what happened so that we understand why it is proper to give praise and to recite the blessing "she'ossoh nisim." But why does he add on that the bnei Yisroel had no outsider ruling over them after they were victorious? This is because included in the halochos of Chanukah the Rambam mentions thatHallel is recited daily. The gemara Megiloh says that we do not recite Hallel on Purim because even after we were saved from the terrible machinations of Homon and Achashveirosh we were still subordinate to Achashveirosh. The Rambam therefore tells us that we were not subjects of a foreign power, and it was in place to recite Hallel.

~ The Rambam hilchos Chanukah 3:5 writes that every day of Chanukah before saying Hallel one should recite the blessing "Asher kidshonu …… v'tzivonu likro es haHallel." Even though the reading of Hallel is instituted by our Rabbis, so how can we say "v'tzivonu"? It is the same as the "v'tzivonu" recited for reading the Megiloh and for creating an "eiruv." Why doesn't the Rambam add that it is also like the blessing for lighting the Chanukah lights, the self-same Holiday?

~ The Rambam hilchos Chanukah 4:1 says that the requirement to kindle Chanukah lights is placed upon the members of a household at their house. Tosfos on the gemara Sukoh 45a d.h. "horo'eh" is of the same opinion. If so, why does the gemara Sukoh 3a only say that a house that is smaller than four "amos" square is exempt from having a mezuzoh, a "maakoh," is not subject to defilement of "n'go'im," is not permanently sold under the ruling of "bo'tei o'rei chomoh," does not serve as a deferment for a soldier going out to war, does not participate in the joining of homes adjoining a passageway to allow for carrying on Shabbos, does not serve as a depository for an "eruvei chatzeiros," does not serve as an extension of the outermost boundaries of a city to allow for the 2,000 cubits permitted walking beyond city limits, and is not subject to being split into two for two inheritors, or partners who split, no less than eleven halachic rulings, and not also list that it does not suffice as a house that requires "ner Chanukah"?

~ The Mishnoh Bruroh 671:5 cites the opinion of the Chayei Odom and Ksav Sofer that if a person had sufficient fuel to light only two lights for the prescribed time required, and it was the third night of Chanukah, he should not light both, but rather only one, as two is the incorrect number (This takes into consideration that he would acquire sufficient fuel for the remaining nights at a later time.). The gemara Shabbos offers two reasons for nightly increasing the number of lights. The first reason is to publicize the number of days of Chanukah that have come. The second is "maalin bakodesh," we increase in sanctity, rather than decrease. According to this second reason, why shouldn't the person who finds himself in the afore-mentioned situation light two lights, albeit the wrong number of lights for the third night, but nonetheless, it accomplishes that he fulfills "maalin bakodesh"?

The Sfas Emes in his commentary on the gemara says that "maalin bakodesh" is not an independent reason for increasing the number of lights. Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel both agree that the Rabbis instituted an inhanced, "mehadrin," manner of lighting the Chanukah lights, namely, based on the number of days of Chanukah. They disagree upon whether to increase or decrease. "Maalin bakodesh" is a basis for increasing, the opinion of Beis Hillel, rather than decreasing, the opinion of Beis Shamai. Based on the words of the Sfas Emes, if we are going to have the wrong number of lights kindled, there is no application of "maalin bakodesh," and therefore it is pointless to light two on the third night.

~ O.Ch. 673:1 - The Shaa'rei Teshuvoh at the beginning of this siman cites the Shaar Efrayim who says that if one has butter that was cooked in a pot in which meat was cooked within the previous 24 hours, by virtue of absorption of the meat flavour it was rendering "bosor b'cholov," such butter cannot be used as fuel for Chanukah lights. It is prohibited to derive benefit from "bosor b'cholov," but one might think that it may be used for Chanukah lights by virtue of the ruling "mitzvos lav lehenos nitnu," performing mitzvos is not considered deriving benefit. However, this is not so because there is another requirement for the fuel for Chanukah lights, that there be present at the time of lighting a sufficient amount of fuel to burn for the prescribed time. Since "bosor b'cholov" must be destroyed, it is considered destroyed, hence giving it the status of "insufficient amount of fuel."

The Eliyohu Raboh raises the following question: Why not simply say that the butter may not be used because by lighting it, it will again be cooked, and in hilchos Shabbos (O.Ch. #318) we rule that "yesh bishul achar bishul," - something that was once cooked can be cooked again, i.e. the act of reheating it has the halachic status of cooking.

Responsa Shvus Yaakov 1:38 cites the opinion of the petitioner that the cooking only takes place in the flame, and at that point it is vaporized and halachically this is not considered cooking. Shvus Yaakov disagrees with this, saying that before becoming a fire the fuel is heated to the point of halachic "bishul."

The Pri M'godim answers this question by differentiating between hilchos Shabbos and "bosor b'cholov." The act of cooking is done even to an item that was once already cooked. However, the prohibition of "lo s'vasheil," to not cook meat and milk together, is dependent on having the result of their flavours mixing. Once an item is "bosor b'cholov," i.e. the flavours have already mixed, re-cooking one of these items on its own is not prohibited because whatever flavour has been absorbed is already there, and nothing new has been introduced. Therefore "ein bishul achar bishul."

He offers another answer as well. Cooking butter has the status of "tigun," frying, and is not a Torah level prohibition. Therefore the Shaar Efrayim prefers the "insufficient amount of fuel" reasoning.

~ O.Ch. 676:3 - He who sees someone else's Chanukah lights kindled on the first night of Chanukah and he himself has not lit, should say two blessings, "she'osoh nisim" and "shehecheyonu." Rabbi Akiva Eiger asks, "How can he say either blessing? The blessings can only be recited when he sees lights that are a fulfillment of the mitzvoh. Perhaps the lights he is viewing have already burned the sufficient time required and now are of no significance. Although he is in doubt, this does not allow for a blessing to be recited, as per the dictum, "so'feik brochos l'ho'keil."

Perhaps this halacha only applies to one of the following two situations, either the time he sees them is within the earliest possible time lighting may be done, so he is guaranteed that the mitzvoh is actively taking place, or that he sees that the lamps are still full, again guaranteeing that they were just recently lit. However, O.Ch. #676 seems to indicate otherwise.

Another possibility is that even if it is after the time of the mitzvoh, the lights that continue to burn beyond this time have the status of "gardu'mei mitzvoh" of publicizing the miracle (there is still the possibility of some late straggler seeing them), and this suffices for allowing the viewer to recite the blessings.

~ O.Ch. 676:3 - As just mentioned, he who sees someone else's Chanukah lights kindled on the first night of Chanukah and he himself has not lit, should say two blessings, "she'osoh nisim" and "shehecheyonu." Commentators say that this only applies to a person who will not light that night. Why doesn't this halacha apply even to one who plans to light when he gets home by virtue of the ruling "ein maavirin al hamitzvos," we do not pass by mitzvos, i.e. if you can do it now you don't pass it up. If so, since these two blessings can be made upon seeing someone else's lights, it should be recited even by a passerby.

1) There is an opinion that one may forego "ein maavirin" when he can do the mitzvoh later in a more enhanced manner.

2) The Rabbis realized that it is very likely to pass by the Chanukah lights that someone else has lit. They therefore instituted that when one plans to light he need not make these blessings.

3) It is the opinion of the Avnei Nezer responsa O.Ch. #506 that Rashi is of the opinion that one indeed recite these blessings upon seeing another's lights and then proceed to his home and light.

~ O.Ch. 679 - Chanukah lights should be kindled before Shabbos lights. The normal blessings should be recited upon the Chanukah lights even though the kindling takes place while it is "ode ha'yom godol." The Mo'gein Avrohom says that the lighting may not take place before "plag haminchoh," just as we find in O.Ch. 672:1, that if someone is pressed to be away from home at the preferred time of lighting, he may light earlier, but no earlier than "plag haminchoh."

May one derive benefit from the Chanukah lights that were lit after "plag haminchoh" while it is still clearly day? Maseches Sofrim 20:7 says, "V'im hidliko b'yom ein n'osin mi'menu," - and if one lit it by day we may not derive benefit from it.


Chanukah @ Shemayisrael