Chanukah @ Shemayisrael

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher


~Breishis 41:1 - "Shnosayim" - Tosfos Hasholeim and the Shiltei Hagiborim say that this word is an acronym for "Smole Neros Tadlik, Y'min Mezuzoh."

~ 43:16 - "Utvoach tevaCH V'HoCHeiN" - The Tonoh D'vei Eliyohu says that the last letter of "tevaCH" and the word "V'HoCHeiN" spell "Chanukah." As well, the Shiltei Hagiborim points out that the gematria of "utvoach tevach" is 44, equal to the total number of lights kindled on Chanukah, including the shamoshim. It is no coincidence that Chanukah is alluded to in these words. The gemara Chulin 91a says that the preparation indicated by the word "v'hochein" refers to the removal of the "gid hanosheh." The Holy Zohar says that the word "nosheh" means forgetfulness. One who eats from the "gid hanosheh" forgets some of his Torah knowledge. The Greeks put great effort into attempting to make us forget Hashem's Holy Torah, "l'hashkichom Torah'secho." Hence with the removal of the "gid hanosheh," Yoseif did an act which symbolized a response to the attack of the Greeks. As well, the ministering angel of Eisov attacked Yaakov and hit him in his "KAF yerech," at the location of the "gid hanosheh." To counter this we had the miracle of finding a "PACH shemen," PACH being the reverse spelling of KAF, as olive oil is an elixir for remembering.

~ The Likutei Mahara"n says that the first letters of the words, "Hazeh K'godel CHasdecho V'cha'asher Nososo" (Bmidbar 14:19) spell Chanukah.

~ The Rokei'ach says that the source word "OHR" appears in the Torah 22 times, many times with prefixes and suffixes. We also have the word "m'oros," three times. This adds six, as "m'oros" is plural. The source word, "NER" appears eight times, also mostly with prefixes and suffixes. This gives us a total of 36, the total number of lights kindled on Chanukah. As well, the maximum number of eight lights is alluded to in the eight appearances of the "NER" word form. (See Ma'tei Moshe brought further down for clarification of this.) He adds that at the first appearance of the word "OHR" (1:4) in the Torah, it says "ki Tov." The letter "Tes" of TOV, which usually has three crowns (tagin) on it, has four, to also allude to the 36 "neros Chanukah," as the letter Tes equals 9, x 4 (four tagin) equals 36.

~ The Rokei'ach also says that by virtue of the juxtaposition of the parsha of the lighting of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh to the end of the listing of the Yomim Tovim (Vayikroh chapters 23 and 24), "V'yikchu ei'lecho SHEMEN ZAYIS zoch kosis lamo'ore l'haalos NER TOMID," we have an allusion to Chanukah and to its lasting for eight days, as it is right after Sukos. Just as Sukos (including Shmini Atzerres) is eight days long, so too Chanukah. NER TOMID is indicative of a permanent light, independent of the existence of the Beis Hamikdosh. The Ma'tei Moshe adds that we find by the lighting of the menorah "l'haalos NER" and then "yaaroch es ha'NEROS," to indicate that we start with one and then increase, as per Beis Hillel.

~ The Rokei'ach says that "Zose chanukas hamizbei'ach" (Bmidbar 7:84) has the same numerical value as "Zose yi'h'yeh bi'mei Chashmono'im." The next words in the verse are, "b'yom himoshach o'so." This is equal to Chanukah b'yom ho'esrim vachamishoh b'Kisleiv" (Kisleiv spelled Kof-Samach-Lamed-YUD-Vov).

~ The Rokei'ach says that "n'choshes" is the final word in parshas Trumoh, and is followed by "V'atoh t'tza'veh es bnei Yisroel v'yikchu ei'lecho shemen zayis zoch." "N'choshes" when changed by the A"T B"SH transmutation code becomes Tes-Samach-Beis-Alef, whose numerical value is equal to Yovon, Yud-Vov-Nun. This indicates that the downfall of Yovon (the Greeks) is through the kindling of the menorah. The Ma'tei Moshe offers that it is most befitting that "n'cho'shes" is an allusion to an aspect of the Chanukah lights because the Medrash Tanchuma (Trumoh #7) on the words "zohov kesef uN'CHO'SHES" (Shmos 25:3) writes that this corresponds to Yovon.

~ The Baal Haturim says that the juxtaposition of the blessing of the Kohanim to the dedication of the Mishkon and the mizbei'ach (Bmidbar 6:22-27 to 7:1) alludes to the Chashmono'im, who were Kohanim, bringing about the re-dedication of the Mikdosh.

~ The Ramban in his commentary on Bmidbar 8:2 says that Hashem indicated to Aharon that his descendants, the Chashmono'im would bring about the rededication of the Beis Hamikdosh and that the lighting of the Chanukah menorah would last for all generations, even after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh.

~ Chanukah falls on the reading of parshas Mikeitz. Hagohas Mordechai finds an allusion to Chanukah in the very first verse, "Va'y'hi mikeitz shnosayim" (Breishis 41:1). Its letters serve as an acronym for "U'v'eis Yochonon Hich'chid Y'vonim Mi'beis Kodsheinu, Tzivonu Shenadlik Neros Tamnia Yomei Meichanukah."

~ "Shnosayim" (Breishis 41:1) - Tosfos Hasholeim and the Shiltei Hagiborim say that this word is an acronym for "Smole Neros Tadlik, Y'min Mezuzoh."

~ The Ma'tei Moshe says that we find the word form "ner" or "menorah" 8 times in the parsha of "menoroh" (Bmidbar 8:1-4), alluding to the eight lights of Chanukah. Upon counting, I only find 7. If you count "neros" as 2 because it is plural, then we have 10. Perhaps his intention is to only count "neros" as 2 when it is spelled "mollei" at the end of verse 2. ~ Although the Mishnoh does not discuss its halochos, Chanukah is mentioned in the Mishnoh seven times. Bikurim 1:6, Taanis 2:10, Rosh Hashono 1:3, Megiloh 3:4 and 3:6, Mo'eid Koton 3:9, and B.K. 6:6.

B.K. 6:6 is the ONLY PLACE that "NER CHANUKAH" is mentioned. A mnemonic: perek 6, mishnoh 6. Six times six = 36, the amount of lights kindled on Chanukah.


1) The activities that we do which uniquely symbolize Chanukah are the kindling of Chanukah lights and adding the Al Hanisim prayer in Shmoneh Esrei and Birkas Hamazon. Although we also say the complete Hallel throughout Chanukah, this is not unique to Chanukah, since we also say the complete Hallel on some Yomim Tovim.

It is interesting to note that the act of kindling the Chanukah lights does not encompass any remembrance of the miraculous victory against the Greeks (although there is an opinion that one day of lighting is done to commemorate the victory of war) and the text of Al Hanisim makes no mention of the miracle of the oil. Although we accompany the lighting with the text of "Haneros Halolu" (Its source is Maseches Sofrim ch. 20.) which does mention the miracle of the war, nonetheless, this is not part of the mitzvoh itself.

Why indeed are these two unique Chanukah activities each bereft of one of the major themes of Chanukah?

We find in Medrash Maasei Chanukah that the Greeks decreed that the Bnei Yisroel may not keep the Shabbos, nor do Bris Miloh, nor announce when the new lunar month would begin or add a new month to the calendar by court injunction - "Kiddush hachodesh v'ibur hashonoh al y'dei Beis Din," and that they may not have doors on their homes. Why did they pick on these specific matters?

An analysis of the Greeks' intention leads us to realize that all of these decrees have a common denominator. The Greeks were not against studying Torah as an intellectual pursuit but were bitterly against the study of Torah which led to a belief that the Torah is a guiding light for people's actions which even reaches into the realm of affecting, mastering over, and even sanctifying the physical. We see this from the text of Al Hanisim, where we say that the Greeks intended "l'hashkichom Toro'seCHO," - to make them forget YOUR TORAH. The Greeks said that the Bnei Yisroel may study the Torah as an intellectual pursuit but not accept it as Divinely given. They may in general fulfill the Torah's commandments, but only as acts of ethnic culture, "u'l'haavirom machukei ritzon'eCHO," - to drive them away from the statutes of YOUR DIVINE WILL. We see this point demonstrated as well further on in the Medrash Maasei Chanukah, which relates that the Greeks told the bnei Yisroel, "Write upon the horn of your ox, - al keren hashore," that you have no portion in the G-d of Israel. On a simple level, this was like having a bumper sticker upon which this declaration would have to be written. In an agrarian society, most people had oxen to till the ground. People spent much time standing behind their oxen while guiding them in the fields and had the ox's horns directly in their view.

However, this can be understood on a deeper level. There is a ruling of "keren hashore." There are financial responsibilities when one's ox or other animal gores another animal or someone's property. If this was done to another ben Yisroel, the financial responsibility is limited to half the value of the damage the first three times this would occur. If however the owner of the ox is a non-Jew, he is responsible to pay the full damage. This irked the Greeks no end. They could accept that the Jews had their unique customs and laws in the sphere of spiritual pursuits, but when it came to the realm of the physical, namely damages of physical properties, they could not accept that the Jews were different because of their being the "people of the book," which permeated even their physical beings and set them apart from all other nations. This is the meaning of write for yourselves "al keren hashore," regarding the law of damages by goring, that you do not have a portion in the G-d of Israel and are no different from us.

Shabbos symbolizes a unique relationship between G-d and bnei Yisroel as stated in the Ten Commandments that Shabbos is a remembrance of the exodus from Egypt which is uniquely a Hashem-bnei Yisroel experience. We stress this in our Shabbos prayers - "Beini u'vein bnei Yisroel ose hee l'olom."

Heralding in the new month or adding a month to the calendar year by an edict of the Jewish court also 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 retains her virginity no matter what has been done to her. 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, this will push her birthday forward by a month, and 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.

The Greeks also issued the devastating edict that none of the bnei Yisroel may have doors on their homes. This totally destroyed the honour and privacy of the home and family life. Only after the victory in combat were the bnei Yisroel able to replace the doors of their homes.

Perhaps there was a much deeper and diabolical intention in the Greeks' edict. The Rambam in hilchos mezuzoh 6:1 states that there are ten conditions to be met before one is responsible to place a mezuzoh. One condition is that the doorway must have a door. By prohibiting the bnei Yisroel from having doors on their homes the Greeks effectively negated the mitzvoh of mezuzoh. The Rambam in hilchos mezuzoh 6:13 states that when a person passes by a mezuzoh it should arouse him from his spiritual slumber, bring him back to his senses, and kindle in him a desire to go on a proper path. It also serves as a reminder to not sin, as if an angel is looking on and restraining him from sinning.

The Greeks would not allow the mitzvoh of mezuzoh to be performed, even though all that it is, is a physical piece of parchment and ink, since they understood that it encompassed all that they stood against.

How appropriate it is to light the menorah when it is positioned across from the mezuzoh of the home. The Medrash Mishlei 31:21 says on the words "Ki chol beiso lovush SHONIM," that the word SHONIM should be read SHNAYIM, meaning "in pairs." The medrash goes on to give us examples of mitzvos done in pairs, including the kindling of Chanukah lights and the mitzvoh of mezuzoh. The Medrash Shir Hashirim on the words "Mah yofis u'mah no'amt" (7:6), also pairs the kindling of Chanukah lights with the mitzvoh of mezuzoh.

When our Rabbis give us a mitzvoh related to a happening, they introduce an act that symbolizes the gist of the matter at hand. The miracle of finding oil that was sufficient for lighting for only one day and having it miraculously last for eight embodies the pivotal point of the disagreement between the Greeks and the Torah. The Greeks posited that the physical realm cannot be intruded upon and surely not mastered by the spiritual. The physical limitation of oil sufficient for only one day, yet lasting eight days because the spiritual need required it, saliently laid to rest the thrust of the Greeks' arguments. The spiritual vanquished the physical.

We are to have this concept in mind when kindling our Chanukah lights. The gemara Shabbos 21b says that the lighting of the Chanukah lights should be done while it is noticed by the public. This is expressed as "ad shetichle regel min hashuk, - until pedestrians no longer traverse the marketplace (streets)." According to the concept explained above we can say that one must have in mind when he kindles the lights of Chanukah that Hashem masters over the physical world and it is not left to happenstance, "ad shetichle regel min hashuk," until the thought comes to an end, "shetichle," that the happenings of our physical world are by happenstance, "R'GILUS min hashuk."

The Rabbis therefore instituted the lighting of the menorah as the only mitzvoh of Chanukah. More was not needed as this symbolic reminder of the miracle of the oil encapsulates the victory of the Torah position over the Greek position. There is no need to incorporate anything symbolizing the miraculous victory at war as a mitzvoh act.

On the other hand, in the blessing of "Modim" in Shmoneh Esrei the theme is to give thanks to Hashem for all the good He has done for us. Here giving thanks for the miraculous victory at war is appropriate and there is no need to mention the miracle of the cruse of oil.

This dvar Torah is a compilation of the thoughts of many commentators. Please excuse me for not giving proper attribution. 2) Throughout the eight days of Chanukah we add to every Amidoh prayer and to "bentching," grace after meals, the prayer "al hanisim." This tells part of the happenings, the difficulties and the deliverance of Hashem, which brought to the festival of Chanukah. In "al hanisim" we find the following: "V'atoh b'racha'mecho horabim omadto lo'hem b'eis tzorosom …… u'l'amcho Yisroel osiso t'shuoh g'doloh ufurkon k'hayom ha'zeh," - And You with Your abundant mercy stood up for them at the time of their difficulty …… and for Your nation Yisroel You made a great deliverance and redemption as of this day." These words deserve clarification. What is meant by "at the time of their difficulty"? Isn't it obvious that help is only needed if one has a need to be helped? As well, what is the intention of the words "as of this day"?

The gemara Yoma 29a asks, "Why is Esther compared to the morning star (T'hilim 22:1)? The answer is, to teach us that just as when the morning star is visible we know that we are at the end of the night, so too, Esther (the miracle of Purim) is the final miracle. The gemara then asks, "But we have Chanukah!" The gemara answers that Esther is the final miracle that is written (i.e. that is a book that is included in the Scriptures). Rabbi Yonoson Eibeschitz in his droshoh for 7th Ador, 5538 asks, "Why indeed isn't Chanukah written up as a book of the Scriptures?"

Rabbi Shlomo Kluger, in his commentary on our prayers, Y'rios Shlomo, explains that Hashem frowns upon miracles that are contrary to nature, while He is pleased with those that are within nature. This is to be explained as follows: We can view a happening as a miracle, totally contrary to the set laws of nature, while in truth it is not a miracle at all, but rather within the confines of nature. We find in the M.R. Breishis 5:5 that Rabbi Yochonon derives from "Va'yoshov ha'yom l'eisono," - and the sea returned to its strength, that although Hashem gave water the nature to flow, He stipulated at the time of creation that the waters of the sea should split for the bnei Yisroel at the required time. Since this was originally set into the system of the creation of the world, it is not to be considered a miracle, albeit that it is a major departure from the norm. The same is true of almost all of the miracles that Hashem has wrought. The Nezer Hakodesh writes likewise on Shmos 12:41, the verse that relates that after 430 years the hosts of Hashem exited from Egypt, that every miracle that took place in the saga of the exile in Egypt and the exodus, was already in the workings, having been pre-programmed into the creation of the world. This actually takes this type of miracle out of the realm of miracles. It is this type of miracle that Hashem is not reluctant to do.

However, there is a second type of miracle, one that was not in the original script. Hashem is reluctant to wrought such a miracle since He has given properties to His creations, i.e. for a body of water to flow, so deviating from this is akin to a king giving a present to his servant and then requesting it back.

This differentiates the miracle of Purim from the miracle of Chanukah. The gemara Chulin 139b asks, "Where is there to be found a source for Homon in the Torah? For Mordechai? For Esther?" However, the gemara does not ask for a source for Chanukah. This is because the gemara assumed that there would be mention of the miracle of Purim in the Torah, but not for Chanukah. The Torah is the blueprint of the world. In the creation of the world Purim was included, as its miracle was embedded into the creation of the world, so it is understood that Purim would be alluded to in the Torah. This is not the case with Chanukah, as its miracle was not part of the creation, but only came into being at the time of "in the days of Matisyohu etc."

Why is this so? The edicts against the bnei Yisroel that were aimed at their physical destruction were not a matter of the bnei Yisroel's moral choices. Hashem is responsible to extricate them, and He did this by setting miracles into the world system that would bring about their redemption. However, the edicts against the bnei Yisroel related to Chanukah were totally spiritual challenges, as explained in the Ta"z on O.Ch. #670 in the name of the L'vush. Since a totally spiritual challenge requires a proper response, this goes into the realm of free choice. Hashem leaves this in the hands of man. Being extricated from a spiritual challenge cannot be part and parcel of the world order as this is the challenge of man, to choose right from wrong. The outcome is in mankind's hand, thus Chanukah cannot be clearly alluded to in the Torah, as man must be left with free will and perhaps the bnei Yisroel would ch"v not have been ready to give their lives for the Torah. (Although there are allusions to Chanukah, they are more esoteric than Homon, Mordechai, and Esther, where more or less their names are found in the Torah, while Chanukah is alluded to by an acronym or the like.) When the bnei Yisroel were ready to risk their lives for the sanctity of the Torah Hashem enacted a miracle.

We may now return to the words of "al hanisim." At other times the miracles that took place for the bnei Yisroel were not wrought at the time that they took place. They were already in the world's workings. Not so with the miracle of Chanukah. Hashem responded "b'eis tzorosom," at the time of their difficulty, creating the miracle at that time. The reason is that the kingdom of Yovon, the Greeks, stood against them to make them forget Your Torah and to do away with their following the statutes of the Torah, "l'hashkichom Toro'secho u'l'haavirom meichukei r'tzonecho." Thus when Hashem saved them it was "k'hayom ha'zeh," as of THIS DAY. This is in stark contrast with other miracles.

We now understand why the story of Chanukah was not written and given the status of Scriptures. When one does an act that he is pleased with, he feels free and even proud of his actions and is eager to have it written. However, the miracle of Chanukah was not a miracle that was included in creation, and as such was a departure from worldly order. This is akin to a king giving a present to his servant and then asking to have it returned, as mentioned earlier. This is why Hashem did not allow Chanukah to be part of the Holy Scriptures.


~ Before kindling the Chanukah light(s) we make three blessings the first night, "…… v'tzivonu l'hadlik ner (shel) Chanukah," She'ossoh nisim ……," and "Shehecheyonu ……," and the first two blessings only from the second night and onwards. The gemara Shabbos 23a asks, "How can we make a blessing with the word 'v'tzivonu,' since it is the Rabbis and not Hashem who have instituted the mitzvoh of kindling "ner Chanukah?" The gemara answers that Hashem has commanded us to listen to the edicts of the Rabbis through the words of the verse, "lo sosur min hadovor asher yagidu l'cho" (Dvorim 17:11).

~ The word immediately after "v'tzivonu" is "l'hadlik." Why don't we say "al hadlokas" instead? There are numerous rules governing the choice between these two forms of expression, as they apply to numerous blessings on performance of mitzvos. The Rokei'ach #366 says that for mitzvos that take extended time to properly fulfill the form "l'…." is used rather than "al ……." Even though the lighting takes but a moment to actually do, since the mitzvoh is to light in a manner that allows for the "ner Chanukah" to burn for approximately ½ hour, the time that people returning home from work would notice the lights, for "parsu'mei nisa," publicizing the miracle, it is considered a mitzvoh of duration, hence "l'hadlik." He adds that this also explains "leisheiv baSukoh," as one is supposed to remain in the Sukoh for an extended period of time, and likewise, "L'honiach tefillin," as one is supposed to wear them all day. "Al" is indicative of a mitzvoh whose completion takes place in a moment.

~ The Shalo"h explains that we do not say "al hadlokas ner Chanukah" because we conclude halachically that "hadlokoh o'soh mitzvoh" (O.Ch. 675:1). If we were to say "al hadlokas ner Chanukah" its connotation could encompass having a light already lit and setting it aside for the mitzvoh. "L'hadlik" conclusively indicates the requirement TO LIGHT for the intention of "ner Chanukah."

~ The next words in the blessing are either "ner SHEL Chanukah" or "ner Chanukah." Everyone is in agreement that the blessing for shabbos lights is "ner SHEL Shabbos." However, here there are two customs. The Birkei Yoseif on O.Ch. #676 explains the custom of the Ari z"l to skip the word SHEL by Chanukah because SHEL indicates that it "belongs to." However, this does not show exclusiveness, as the lights of Shabbos are lit for the sanctity of Shabbos, but at the same time serve the purpose of bringing light to the home to be enjoyed. By saying "ner Chanukah" without the word SHEL we indicate that the lights are totally dedicated to Chanukah and may not be put to any other use. The Ei'mek Brochoh #263 says the same. However, there are many who do say SHEL, and indeed the Ran on the gemara Shabbos 22a brings the text of this blessing and includes the word SHEL.

~ The third blessing is "she'ossoh nisim laavoseinu ba'yomim ho'heim bazman ha'zeh." Just as Hashem has wrought miracles for our forefathers in days of yore, so too, He does miracles for us these days. (Rabbi Chanoch Henoch the Holy Admor of Alexander)

~ There is a marvelous allusion to the 3 blessings we make on the kindling of the Chanukah lights on the first night in a verse in the Torah, "A'sei l'cho SOROF v'sim oso al NEIS v'ro'oh oso voCHOI" (Bmidbar 21:8). SOROF alludes to the fire that is lit, "L'hadlik ner Chanukah," NEIS is the blessing "she'ossoh NISIM," and "voCHOI" is the blessing "shehecheyonu." (Ben Ish Chai on parshas Va'yeishev)


~ Rashi and the Ran on the gemara Shabbos 21b say that this is based upon the fact that our Rabbis have fashioned the mitzvoh of lighting our Chanukah menorah after the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh, through which the miracle took place. Just as it was prohibited to benefit from the light of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh, so too, the Rabbis instituted that the light of the Chanukah menorah may not be used for personal benefit. Since the mitzvoh was fashioned after the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh, even using its light for a mitzvoh, for example to learn by its light, is also prohibited, even though "mitzvos lav l'honos nitnu" (gemara Eiruvin 31a, R.H. 28a, Chulin 89a) because the menorah of the Beis Hamikdosh was not to be used at all.

~ Since the intention of lighting the Chanukah menorah is for publicizing the miracle, "parsu'mei nisa," if one were to have personal benefit from its light it would negate people's realizing that it was lit for "parsu'mei nisa." (L'vush O.Ch. 673:2) It seems that this would also explain why the light of the menorah may not be used even for a mitzvoh.

~ The light of the Chanukah menorah symbolizes the pure light of the Torah. Just as one is not to derive benefit from the Torah itself, "Al taa'seim …… v'kardom lachpor bo'hem v'chach omar Hillel, 'd'ishta'meish b'saga cholaf'" (Pirkei Ovos 4:5), so too, one may not derive benefit from the Chanukah lights. (Chidushei HoRi"m)

~ The light of the Chanukah menorah is of such intense sanctity that the evil powers attempt to grab away some of its spiritual energy. As long as it only is done for the mitzvoh, they have no ability to draw from it. Once a person makes use of its light for non-holy purposes the negative powers are able to draw from it. This explains why we say "Yosheiv b'sei'ser elyon" (T'hilim 91:1) after the lighting. It is well known that this is the chapter in T'hilim said to protect against evil powers, as is indicated by the verses of this chapter, so too we say this to protect against the negative powers attaching themselves to the holy aura created by the Chanukah lights. (Kozhnitzer Magid in Avodas Yisroel on parshas Va'yeishev in the name of the Ari z"l)

~ While on the subject of "Yosheiv b'sei'ser", in the siddur of the Ari z"l it is brought in the name of the Rivo"sh that it should be recited 7 times after the kindling of the Chanukah lights as well as on Rosh Hashonoh and Yom Kippur and at times when one finds himself in dire straits. The Tashba"tz #258 writes that when the Chashmono'im went to war against the Greeks they said the verse "Vihi noam" (T'hilim 90:17 the last verse of this chapter) 7 times, and the verse "Orech yomim" (T'hilim 91:16 the last verse of "Yosheiv b'sei'ser") twice, and in this merit they overcame their enemies.


~ The Rokei'ach writes that the total of 36 lights of all 8 nights of Chanukah correspond to the special light that was present upon the creation of Odom, which lasted for 36 hours, and was then hidden until the time of the world to come. ~ The Bnei Yisos'chor and Medrash Pinchos #1 write that since the festival of Chanukah is one of affirming the legitimacy of the Oral Torah, we symbolically light 36 lights, which correspond to the 36 tractates of gemara.


~ Because we are to derive no personal benefit from the "ner Chanukah" we light an extra flame nearby, called a "Shamash," i.e. a light that "serves" the "ner Chanukah." The Mahari"l writes that this is alluded to in the verse, "srofim omdim mimaal LO" (Yeshayohu 6:2), LO has the numerical value of 36.

~ The Kav Ha'yoshor perek #96 writes that this light corresponds to the Kohein in the Beis Hamikdosh who lights the menorah, who after going up three steps stands higher than the menorah, so too the "shamash" should be placed higher than the "ner Chanukah." This too is indicated in the verse brought by the Mahari"l "miMAAL lo," above the 36. The Kav Ha'yoshor adds that just as the Kohein is sanctified, so too, one should not derive benefit even from the "shamash." Indeed, the Mo'gein Avrohom O.Ch. 673:4 writes that even if one has a "shamash," if he is using the area nearby, he should place another light on the platform or table. The Kav Ha'yoshor adds that whoever is careful to also not make use of the "shamash" will merit to see the light of the Beis Hamikdosh bb"a.

There seems to be another indication that even the "shamash" has some sanctity, as the Rokei'ach mentioned earlier writes that "utvo'ach" has the numerical value of 44, equal to all the lights of the 8 days of Chanukah including "shamoshim." ~ The Hagohos Mordechai Hachadoshos offers an allusion to the added "shamash" as "n'cho'shes" is the last word of parshas Trumoh and is followed by the mitzvoh of lighting the menorah at the beginning of parshas T'tza'veh. "N'cho'shes," spelled Nun-Ches-Shin-Tof is an acronym for "Ner Chanukah Shamash Tadlik." As mentioned earlier, the Ma'tei Moshe adds that it is most befitting that "n'cho'shes" is an allusion to an aspect of the Chanukah lights because the Medrash Tanchuma (Trumoh #7) on the words "zohov kesef uN'CHO'SHES" (Shmos 25:3), writes that this corresponds to Yovon.


~ Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. 675:3 writes that women are required to light "neros Chanukah." Those who are married and some single girls who reside with their parents have this mitzvoh fulfilled through their husband/father. The reason for their being required to do this mitzvoh in spite of its being a time restricted one, "mitzvas assei shehazman grama," is because the women were also in mortal danger and were saved. As a matter of fact they had even greater difficulty at the time of the Chanukah happening, as there was a law that all newlywed women were to be misused by the local magistrates. This came to an end when a daughter of Yochonon Kohein Godol would not stand for this and somehow was able to put the magistrate to sleep and decapitated him. The women were thus credited with being the ones who brought about our salvation.

~ The Ran on the gemara Shabbos 21b writes that some say that women's bringing about our salvation is the reason for their being required to light "ner Chanukah," but he refutes this, saying that the reason is as mentioned above, that they too were saved.

~ The Ma'tei Moshe #994 writes that by virtue of the women being so instrumental in our salvation, they took upon themselves to not do any work during the time that the "ner Chanukah" are burning. He also offers that when men come home from work they usually don't do any household work, while women do. Because there is a fear of their using the illumination of the "ner Chanukah" for their home duties, they created a safeguard by refrining from all household work.


There is a well-known argument between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel (gemara Shabbos 21b) whether we start with eight lights and decrease by one light nightly, or if we start with one light and increase nightly. The position to decrease can be equated to the approach of repenting by first relenting by diminishing one's negative behaviour, "Sur meira" (T'hilim 34:15), and only then "va'a'sei tov." The opposing opinion posits that one should not wait to correct his flaws before he begins on the road to good behaviour. First ""a'sei tov," and then "sur mei'ra."

The gemara concludes, "Nimnu v'gomru d'halacha k'Beis Hillel," - they have tallied and concluded that the halacha is like Beis Hillel that we start with one light and increase nightly. This is because by first pursuing the good, one will learn to behave properly, as he will busy himself with good and have no time for bad. If however, one waits to pursue good until he has eradicated the bad within him, he will never finish the task. (The Yehudi Hakodosh of Parshis'cha)


The gemara Shabbos 21a-b says KOVSOH EIN ZOKUK LOH, if one has properly set up the "ner Chanukah" so that they were expected to burn for the prescribed time, and unexpectedly were extinguished, then one need not bother re-lighting them. This is most puzzling. Since the main thrust of lighting the "ner Chanukah" is to publicize the miracle of Chanukah, it would be logical to require that one re-light the "ner Chanukah" to accomplish "pirsumei nisa." Allegorically, it may be explained as follows: The Greeks attempted to destroy the sanctity of the Torah, not the actual study thereof. (A lengthy article that included much material on this point was offered on Chanukah 5760.) Central to this theme is that with secular studies, if the knowledge gleaned is not properly and accurately absorbed and applied, it is of no use, and sometimes can even be detrimental. Imagine a person pursuing studies in the field of surgery who has not absorbed the information properly and then proceeding with a surgery of which he has improper knowledge. The results will be unsuccessful in the least and possibly even cause death. Not so with Torah study, as long as one approaches the Torah with the proper attitude, even if he misunderstands or does not fully comprehend its lessons, he is credited with learning Torah. This is the intention of the blessing "LAASOKE b'divrei Torah," to engage in the commerce of Torah. Many endeavours in business lead to no deal or profit, but nevertheless, this is the reality of commerce; one attempts to strike a deal, etc. So too with the Torah, even if one is not successful in reaching proper conclusions, he is credited with engaging in the "business of Torah," LAASOKE.

This is why KOVSOH EIN ZOKUK LOH. This means that even if one's understanding is wrong, it is extinguished, nevertheless it is still of value, one need not re-light, as the effort that was put into studying the Torah is of itself of value. (Bnei Yisos'chor)


~ In the laws of lighting "neros Shabbos" the Shulchan Oruch O.Ch. 264:1,3 writes that only certain wicks and fuels may be used, those that produce a steady clear flame. However in hilchos "ner Chanukah" (673:1) it says that it is permitted to use any wicks and fuels, even those that produce a weak flickering flame. Wouldn't it be logical to assume that the "ner Chanukah," which embodies the publicizing of the Chanukah miracle, should have at least the same stringencies? The Holy Admor of Radomsk the Tiferes Shlomo (Drush l'Shabbos Chanukah d.h. "uv'zeh") writes that the wicks are the bodies of people and the fuel is their soul. "Hashemen" has the same letters as "n'shomoh." This combination produces spiritual light. Those who behave as the Torah dictates both have pure actions and purify their bodies. Their spiritual light is steady, clean, and pure. Chanukah has the ability to embrace even those who are estranged from its ways. They are the wicks and fuel that do not produce pure light. Even they are permitted, so that they may improve in their ways and eventually produce the light of Torah.

~ The Imrei Pinchos writes that Chanukah is unique in that it is a festival that begins in the second half of the month, when the moon wanes, contrary to all other festivals. (Shmini Atzerres is considered a continuation of Sukos.) This is also indicative of Chanukah's ability to draw imperfection into its grasp and elevate it.

~ Another law that runs along the same lines is that the best height position for the "ner Chanukah" is below 10 fist breadths, where the Holy Sh'chinoh does not descend (gemara Sukoh 5a). This too symbolizes that the light of Chanukah illuminates the negative, even reaching down to those who are in a location where the Sh'chinoh does not reside.

~ In a similar vein: The gemara Shabbos 21b states that the preferred manner is to place the menorah outside one's home so that it can readily be seen by the passing by public. The Sifsei Tzadik, a grandson of the Chidushei HoRim says that this symbolizes the light of Chanukah bringing positive influences even upon those who are sunk into the outside world, in the public marketplace.


As mentioned earlier, there was a preference to place the menorah outside one's doorway. The medrash Shir Hashirim pairs this mitzvoh with the mitzvoh of mezuzoh, and Rishonim, i.e. Ran on gemara Shabbos 21b and others say that the optimum situation is when one places himself while wearing "tzitzis" between the mezuzoh on his right and the menorah on his left. ~ The Ben Ish Chai on parshas Va'yeishev writes that this uniting of 3 mitzvos, Tzitzis, Mezuzoh, and Chanukah, whose first letters are an acronym for TzeMaCH, a name of Moshiach (Zecharyoh 6:12), will help bring about his coming bb"a.

~ Another aspect of location, also mentioned earlier, is that the menorah be placed below 10 fist breadths from the ground. Rabbi Nochum the Holy Admor of Tchernovitz in Mo'ore Einayim on parshas Mikeitz writes that we see from this that Hashem is so eager to bring us close to Him that He even descends to below 10 "t'fochim," an area into which He otherwise never descends (see gemara Sukoh 5a).


~ We have the custom to also light "ner Chanukah" in shul. The L'vush on O.Ch. 671:8 writes that there are wayfarers who reside in shuls. Just as wee hace instituted kidush on Shabbos evening for them, so too we light "ner Chanukah." ~ The A'terres Z'keinim on O.Ch. #673 writes in the name of the Rosh that since we fashion our mitzvoh after the lighting in the Beis Hamikdosh, we also light in our houses of prayer, which are a "mikdosh m'at."

~ Why do we light in the shul by day as well? The Orchos Chaim O.Ch. 671:13 in the name of the responsa Binyan Shlomo says that we do this to correspond to the opinion of the Rambam in hilchos t'midim umusofim 3:10. He says that the lighting of the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh took place at the onset of night and at the beginning of the morning.

~ Another answer: There is an opinion that the miracle of Chanukah included 24 hour burning of the lights of the menorah. To commemorate this aspect of the miracle we light again by day, but only in shul, which as mentioned earlier, is a "mikdosh m'at."


Upon lighting "neros Chanukah" we chant "Haneros halolu onu madlikim." Its source is meseches Sofrim 20:6, although with some variations.


~ We add this prayer to our daily Amidoh and Birkas Hamozone. Since "al hamichyoh" is a diminutive Birkas Hamozone, why is it not incorporated into this blessing, just as we mention Shabbos and Yom Tov? The Machatzis Hashekel O.Ch. 208:18 answers that this is because they are not mentioned in the Torah.

~ MVRHRH"G R' Yaakov Kamenecki zt"l answers this question in a most marvelous manner. The gemara Brochos 29a says tha the Rabbis instituted a short form of the Amidoh called "tfilas havi'neinu." After the first 3 blessings are said in the normal fashion, the 12/13 middle blessings are said in very short form. The gemara says that this prayer may not be said on "motzo'ei Shabbos" because there is a need to say "havdoloh" ("atoh chonantonu") in "atoh chonein." Mar Zutra asks, "Why not say "havdoloh" in full in the middle of the shortened form of "atoh chonein" and say the rest in shortened form?" The gemara says that this is a difficult question and offers no answer.

Rabbeinu Yonoh says that in spite of the difficulty posed by Mar Zutra we maintain the halacha that it may not be said on "mot'zo'ei Shabbos." He answers the gemara's question by saying that since the rest of the middle of the "amidoh" is said in very short form, if we were to include the regular lengthy prayer of "atoh chonantonu" there is a fear that a person might believe that in the full-length version there are numerous other blessings.

Rabbi Kamenecki zt"l raises a question on "al hamichyoh." When we mention Shabbos or Yom Tov, why do we place it after "uvnei Yerusholayim" and not before, just as we find it in the full-length Birkas Hamozon? He answers that the point raised by Rabbeinu Yonoh could be raised here as well. Why do we mention Shabbos or Yom Tov in the short version? Is there not a fear that one might mistakenly think that in the original there is a separate blessing for Shabbos or Yom Tov? The answer is that there indeed is such a fear. However, our Rabbis wanted to include mention of Shabbos and Yom Tov in "al hamichyoh." Since when one forgets Shabbos or Yom Tov in Birkas Hamozone there is a make-up blessing that one should say right after the blessing of "binyan Yerusholayim" the Rabbis allowed themselves to include the mention of Shabbos and Yom Tov in the shortened version, but only after "binyan Yerusholayim," as that is the only place that they are accorded an actual blessing on their own. Since neither Chanukah nor Purim have a "blessing" on their own in "Birkas Hamozone" even when forgotten, we cannot include it in "al hamichyoh."


These words have the numerical value of 1,099, the same as the three decrees that the Greeks sought to impose upon us, to annul Shabbos, Chodesh, Miloh. (Imrei Chaim)


~ Compare these words with the blessing after reading Megilas Esther, "Harov es ri'vEINU hadon es dinEINU v'ha nokeim es nikmosEINU." Why by Chanukah do we mention these matters in third person, "THEIR argument, etc." while by Purim in first person, "OUR argument, etc."?

The Eizor Eliyohu answers that by Purim the bnei Yisroel as a whole repented. They proclaimed a three day fast and all prayed for salvation, "V'tzome uvchi umispeid sak vo'eifer yutza loRABIM" (Megilas Esther 4:3). The salvation was thus aroused by the bnei Yisroel, called "isarusa dilsata," an awakening from below. However, by Chanukah a limited amount of people repented and prayed to Hashem for help. In spite of this, Hashem in His boundless kindness saved the bnei Yisroel. This show of undeserved mercy is called "isarusa dil'eila," an awakening from Above. The fight on Purim was OUR fight, as we as a nation did our part to bring mercy upon ourselves. However, by Chanukah it was undeserved, hence it is called Hashem's fighting THEIR fight, etc., referring to the enemies fight, with Hashem overpowering them in the form of a small group of people, the Chashmono'im.

~ The Bnei Yisos'chor furthers the concept of "arousal from below" by Purim through noting that we hold the "gragger" from below, while on Chanukah, where we had "arousal from above," we spin the "dreidel" by holding it from above.


~ The Kedushas Levi says that it is known that the Chashmono'im were physically very powerful. If so, why are they called "chaloshim"? He answers that they considered themselves weak in that they felt that their merit was insufficient to win a war against so many. They were in their own minds weak in merits.

~ It is interesting to note that the Targum on Shmuel 1:2:4 seems to state that the Chashmono'im were weak people in a literal sense, although one might inject the concept of the Kedushas Levi into the Targum as well.

~ The Chonoh Dovid suggests that giving the strong into the hands of the weak is alluded to in parshas Mikeitz where we find in Paroh's dream that seven emaciated cows swallowed up seven strong healthy cows.


Every day of Chanukah we read a section of the N'siims' offerings for the dedication of the Mishkon. The L'vush on O.Ch. 684:1 writes that this is because the Mishkon components were completed on the 25th of Kisleiv. The story of Chanukah included a re-dedication of the Beis Hamikdosh. This similarity justifies reading this parsha, even though the N'siim brought their offerings starting from the first day of Nison. The Avudrohom writes that we begin the reading on the first day from the previous parsha, the blessings of the Kohanim, because the salvation of Chanukah came about through the Chashmono'im, who were Kohanim. A simple reading of maseches Sofrim 20:10 seems to contradict the Avudrohom.


We know that the Aron Hakodesh, which was home for the "luchos," embodies the concept of the written Torah, while the menorah embodies the concept of the oral Torah. The miracle that took place with the lights of the menorah is symbolic of the triumph of our oral Torah, called the LIGHT of the Torah, over the DARKNESS of the Greeks, "v'choshech" zeh golus Yovon" (M.R. Breishis 2:4).

The Bnei Yisos'chor offers a marvelous gematria that alludes to this. The word Chanukah spelled "b'milluy" as follows Ches-Yud-Tof, Nun-Vov-Nun, Vov-Vov, Kof-Pei, Hei-Hei has the same numerical value as "Bavli vIrushalmi," the Talmud, which encompasses "Torah she'b'al peh."


~~~~ 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'NEROS HALOLU - The Mishnoh Bruroh 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'NEROS 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)

It would seem that according to this understanding of the more liberal guideline for the "mehadrin" lights, if we allow for lights of different mediums, for example, to light one oil and the others paraffin candles, one could kindle his first light with oil and the rest can be incandescent lights. The reason we do not simply use incandescent lights is because their fuel is electricity, which is continuously generated, as noted when we have a power failure, and things shut off immediately. We require a sufficient amount of fuel at the time of lighting, based on "hadlokoh osoh mitzvoh." Since we just said that we don't require this for the "mehadrin" lights, one might be allowed to use electrical incandescent lights for the rest of his lights.

Although the Sh.O. does not mention that the people who each fulfills his mitzvoh is doing it at the exact same time as the others according to Rabbi Shmuel Salant, we could just as easily say that the person who does this and fulfills the basic light and the "mehadrin" has lit them all at once, for example with a long stick that is alight over its length and comes into contact with all the wicks at once.

~~~~ 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'rapsin Igri:

1) Accepting Shabbos early, "tosfos Shabbos," 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 Hashem'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 of Rottenberg, 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 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. Of what importance is it that there is a "ner" closer to the door opening? Even if it is in a more favourable position, whichever one is lit first is the basic mitzvoh light.

Maa'sei Rokei'ach says that the disagreement over lighting from right to left or from left to right is based upon the two opinions in the gemara M'nochos 98b. One posits that the menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh was placed in a north to south position, while the other says that it was from east to west. The Kohein who enters to light the menorah is walking westward and the menorah is to his left, on the south side of the room. If positioned north-south he will be closer to the right side of the menorah, and in keeping with the dictum "ein maavirin al hamitzvos," we do not pass by a mitzvoh opportunity that we are ready to do, he would have to begin lighting from the rightmost lamp and work his way to the left. If the menorah was positioned east/west, he would first reach the easternmost part of the menorah first, which is its leftmost lamp, and begin to light from the left. Since we fashion the lighting of our Chanukah menorah after that of the Beis Hamikdosh this is a most logical approach.

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 his responsa O.Ch. #187 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)


<> King Dovid writes in T'hilim 132:17, "Orachti ner liMshichi." This refers to the kindling of Chanukah lights, which is a preparation for the revelation of Moshiach. (Rabbi Nochum of Tchernobel in Mo'or Einayim)

Similarly, in our Rosh Hashonoh prayers we say, "Vaarichas ner l'ven Yishai M'shichecho," - and a preparation of a light for the descendant of Yishai, who is your anointed, Moshiach. Indeed, ner Chanukah require "arichoh," preparation, as we must supply sufficient fuel and place the menorah in a manner that it has the ability to burn properly for the prescribed time.

Our lighting of ner Chanukah embodies more than just this mitzvoh itself. Kabalists write that the light emanating from our ner Chanukah is of the stature of the light that was present during the days of creation, which was removed from this world and is stored away, to once again be present for the righteous in the world-to-come, in the days of Moshiach.


<> The rededication of the Mikdosh on the 25th of Kislev has an antecedent. Yalkut Shimoni on M'lochim at the end of remez #184 says that the Mishkon components were completed on the same date.


<> The fifth night of Chanukah never falls on a Shabbos. This gives it the unique status of shedding light on a night that is considered the darkest, as it is never on Shabbos. The concept of light illuminating from the depths is the same as Moshiach appearing at the end of our long golus, the light at the end of a very long dark tunnel. Ner "Chamishi" is especially connected to Moshiach, as they both contain the same letters. (Nirreh li)


<> Medrash Chanukah says that the Greeks attempted to abolish Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh, and ritual circumcision. The Torah is replete with mitzvos. Why did they pick on specifically these 3 mitzvos?

Our victory over the Greeks is symbolized by our lighting the Chanukah menorah. No doubt it must therefore embody the essence of the fight and victory over the Greeks. Although the Mikdosh has a vessel that corresponds to the Holy written Torah, the Aron Kodesh, the menorah corresponds to the oral Torah, Torah "she'b'al peh." Although all mitzvos have varying amounts of Torah "she'b'al peh" components, for example, the Torah itself doesn't tell us how or in which area of an animal's body ritual slaughter should take place, what tefillin/totofos are, what the fringes of a four-cornered garment are made of, etc., etc., these three mitzvos are uniquely Torah "she'b'al peh" based. Shabbos takes place from the advent of the seventh day of the week until its completion. Nevertheless, a person can accept upon himself the sanctity of Shabbos earlier and it has the halachic ruling of Shabbos on a Torah level regarding certain halochos (see Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh on the words "laasos es haShabbos," Shmos 31:16).

Rosh Chodesh is totally based on the court's announcing or not announcing the advent of the new month. The decision of the earthly court is binding, establishing the dates of Yomim Tovim even if in the Celestial court would have ruled otherwise (see mishnoh R.H.).

Circumcision likewise is a mitzvoh that drives home the lesson that although Hashem gave us this world in a seemingly complete state, with a wonderful self-sustaining eco-system, etc., nevertheless He created man incomplete and imperfect. It is the bnei Yisroel's responsibility to bring their bodies to spiritual completeness. These three mitzvos have this common denominator, which runs head-on contrary to the ideology of the Greeks. They posited that this world is totally physical and theology plays no part in the physical realm. These three mitzvos in particular teach us otherwise. This is the message of the menorah, of the power of Torah "she'b'al peh," the Torah transmitted by humans. (Nirreh li)

<> Similarly, we light a total of 36 lights on Chanukah, which correspond to the 36 gemoros of Shas. (Bnei Yisos'chor) <> The words "BI'MEI MATISYOHU BEN YOCHONON" have the numerical value of 1,099, the same as the three mitzvos that the Greeks sought to annul, Shabbos, Chodesh, and Miloh. (Imrei Chaim)


<> We have just mentioned that the Greeks put special effort into abolishing the mitzvos of Shabbos, Kidush Hachodesh, and Miloh. We have a remembrance of these three mitzvos in our kindling Chanukah lights. Including the "shamash," the accompanying light, we have a total of forty-four lights for all of Chanukah when we are "m'hadrin min hamhadrin." A month has 29 days when the Rabbis intercede, as otherwise it automatically becomes a 30 day month. Shabbos is the 7th day. Circumcision, when done on time, is on the 8th day. Twenty-nine, Chodesh, plus seven, Shabbos, plus eight, Miloh, equal 44. (Shomati mi'ben gisi R' Boruch Goldstein)


<> We know that each vessel in the Mikdosh embodied unique qualities; the Aron haKodesh corresponds to the Torah, the shulchan to livelihood, the altar to service and prayer, etc. The menorah likewise symbolizes the Holy Torah. Why do we have two items in the Mikdosh representing the same concept? The Aron haKodesh represents the written Torah, while the menorah represents the oral Torah, Torah "sheb'al peh." Just as oil is a simple liquid, but when utilized properly, it gives forth light, so too, the written word has much depth to be expounded. The written Torah is not subject to being forgotten, as it is a text. We can always refer back to it. However, the oral Torah, transmitted from teacher to disciple from generation to generation, is subject to forgetfulness, "shikchoh." The Greeks attempted to destroy the oral Torah, "l'hashkichom Toro'secho." They claimed that since it came from man it does not have the validity of Torah given by Hashem. However, we counter this by saying that it is Toro'seCHO, YOURS.


<> Yaakov forgot "pachim k'tanim," small vessels (gemara Chulin 91a). These contained oil, which he wanted to use as a libation upon his altar, to dedicate it. When Yaakov fetched the jars of oil and poured them upon the altar, the empty vessels refilled themselves. (Sifsei Kohein parshas Va'yishlach and Chid"o in Midbar K'deimos). We thus have a precedent of using oil to dedicate an altar, a component of the Mikdosh, and to its miraculously refilling (second opinion of the Beis Yoseif). "Pachim k'tanim" (i"h) has the numerical value of Shas, thus the oil used for dedication by Yaakov alludes to the oral Torah. (Nirreh li)

We also find in M'lochim 2:4 that Elisha performed a miracle, having a small vessel containing oil continuously issuing forth more and more oil until there were no empty vessels to receive more. This miracle was wrought to supply a source of income for the widow of Ovadioh. He borrowed money to support 100 Torah scholars who were in hiding. His wife was unable to repay the debt and was threatened with the confiscation of her children to pay off the debt. Torah scholars are the light of the world. (Nirreh li)


<> We have just mentioned the "pachim k'tanim" which Yaakov forgot and went back to fetch. At that time he encountered the archangel of Eisov, who combated with him. "Pachim k'tanim" has the numerical value of 359. The 359th day of the Gregorian calendar is December 25th. This is Eisov's holiest day of the year. His powers are such that some refrain from learning Torah on its eve until half the night, called "nittel." Some say that its source is that the descendants of Eisov staged attacks and pogroms on that night, part of their holiday ritual. It simply wasn't safe to venture from home, and many people used to learn in public study halls, which were well lit. Early commentators say that the oil that was miraculously found in the Beis Hamikdosh was one of the "pachim k'tanim" that Yaakov retrieved. The pure lights of Chanukah counter the negative powers of Eisov present during this time of the year. (Nirreh li)


<> In the Torah we find a case of fuel not being consumed, "V'hasneh einenu ukol" (Shmos 3:2). There is remez to the month of Kisleiv here in verse 4, "Ki Sor Liros Vayikra," whose first letters spell out Kislev in order. This is only place in Tanach where the first letters of words spell Kislev in order. (Ro'isi)


<> The gemara Shabbos tells of the miracle of finding an uncontaminated cruse of oil, which had the seal of the Kohein Godol upon it. It was fit for kindling the menorah, but there was only sufficient oil to burn for one night, and it miraculously lasted for eight nights.

Why would there be a seal of the Kohein Godol upon it? The medrash at the beginning of parshas T'tza'veh says that the words "V'yikchu EI'LECHO shemen zayis zoch kosis lamo'or," teach us that the oil for the menorah must be brought to the leader of the generation for inspection. Since there is a requirement of "kosis lamo'or," totally pure, it must pass his inspection. This explains why the Kohein Godol would apply his "hech'sher" to the oil.

Alternatively, the Sfas Emes offers that the cruse of oil was that of the Kohein Godol, who had the privilege and responsibility to daily offer "minchas chavitin," a type of meal offering, which is mixed with oil (Vayikra 6:13). Although the oil for a meal offering does not have the stringency of "kosis lamo'or," nevertheless it is acceptable (gemara M'nochos 86b). Although the Torah does not burden the public to go to the expense of accompanying their meal offerings with the prima d'prima of oils (gemara M'nochos 86b), but the Kohein Godol at that time chose to do so. We might say that this is the reason the Rabbis instituted the concept of "m'hadrin" and "m'hadrin min hamhadrin" for kindling ner Chanukah, since the Kohein Godol was "m'ha'deir." Had he not done this "hidur mitzvoh" there would have been no appropriate oil for the menorah.

This explanation clarifies a most interesting statement of Rabbi Achai Gaon in his Shiltos on parshas Va'yishlach. He writes that the oil found in the Beis Hamikdosh was INSUFFICIENT for even one day of burning. There exists such a text in Megilas Taanis as well. (Obviously, this preempts the most answered question, that raised by the Beis Yoseif: Why do we have eight days of Chanukah if the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days was only a miracle of seven extra days?) This is most unusual. Why would someone package an insufficient amount for this mitzvoh?

However, if the oil was originally destined for use in the "minchas chavitin," it is very understandable. The gemara M'nochos 87b says that the amount of oil used daily for the menorah was ½ "lug" for each light, times 7 lamps = 3½ "lug." The same gemara says that the amount required for the "minchas chavitin" was 3 "lug."

Alternatively, the amount found was the regular 3½ "lug" volume for the menorah, but it was insufficient because the menorah that was used was a new wooden vessel, as the golden menorah was defiled. The new wood, never used before to contain liquids, was porous and absorbed some of the oil. Therefore enough was not enough. (Bnei Yisos'chor)


<> "V'Yaakov nosa Sukosoh va'yi'ven lo boyis ulmikneihu ossoh sukos" (Breishis 33:17). Our three patriarchs correspond to the three festivals that require a pilgrimage to Yerusholayim. Avrohom corresponds to Pesach, Yitzchok to Shovuos, and Yaakov to Sukos. This verse relates that Yaakov came to a place called Sukos. Some say that it would be its name in the future, based on the occurrence here recorded, while others say that it was already named Sukos, but without a letter Vov after the Kof, and only afterwards it was named Sukos with a Vov.

The word "lo" in this verse seems superfluous, as it is clearly stated that for his livestock he made "sukos," indicating that the earlier building was for human habitat. This word alludes to the festival following Sukos, namely Chanukah. "Lo" has the numerical value of 36, the total number of lights kindled by those who fulfill this mitzvoh "limhadrin min hamhadrin," most scrupulously.

This is also the point of mentioning that he built himself a "bayis," as this is an absolutely necessary component of the fulfillment of kindling Chanukah lights, "ner, ish u'VEISO." (Sfas Emes)

Incidentally, R'vid Hazohov says that these words are the Torah source for the ruling that a sukoh is only valid if it is a temporary structure, "diras aro'i." When describing the building of his house we find "va'yiven," he BUILT, i.e. a secure structure, while for constructing the sukos the verse says "ossoh," he MADE, i.e. a temporary structure.


<> The gemara Shabbos 21a says, "B'CHof-Hei b'Kisleiv yomei d'Chanukah tamnia inun," - On the 25th of Kisleiv days of Chanukah eight they are. Taken literally, the gemara seems to be saying that ON the 25th of Kisleiv we have the eight days of Chanukah. Since Chanukah BEGINS on the 25th and lasts for eight days, why didn't the gemara say "MEI-Chof-Hei," FROM the 25th?

One of the Beis Yoseif's answers is that they immediately split the oil into eight equal parts, and on the first day they experienced the miracle of having a 1/8th supply miraculously suffice for that day. Thus, the first day itself embodied and was a portender for the next seven days having the miracle repeated. If so, we have the miracle of all eight days on the first day. (Nirreh li)


<> The gemara Shabbos 21 says that the Rabbis established and made these days a festival starting the next year. The Rabbis established Purim the year of its happening, so why by Chanukah did they push it off until the following year? Although the threat of annihilation was very real, Purin brought about no casualties among the bnei Yisroel. There was no reason to push off the festival. Leading up to the miracle of Chanukah there were wars, and the bnei Yisroel suffered numerous casualties. The Rabbis did not want to establish a new festival when there were many people in the year of mourning. (Pis'chei Torah) Alternatively, they waited until the completion of the miracle, and when it ended the eight days that might have been Chanukah that year had passed. (Nirreh li)


<> The gemara goes on to say, "k'vo'UM vaaso'UM Yomim Tovim," - They established THEM and made THEM Yomim Tovim. What is the intention of stressing THEM? Why didn't the gemara simply say that the Rabbis established eight days of Chanukah? It is obvious that they were the same days as the miracle occurred. The Chasam Sofer answers the Beis Yoseif's question by saying that the year in which the miracle took place had a 29 day month of Kislev. Even though the miracle was only for seven days, as pointed out by the Beis Yoseif, our Rabbis extended Chanukah by one day so that it would include the 2nd of Teves even on a year that Kislev has 30 days because in the year of the miracle the 2nd of Teves was also a day of the miracle. This explains why the gemara says that they established THEM, the calendar days of the miracle, and this is why they "established," meaning that they created an eight day, and not a seven day Yom Tov. (Nirreh li)

Possibly, this is also the intention of the added word "eilu," in "Al hanisim," "v'kovu shmonas y'mei Chanukah EILU." They established THESE 8 days, regardless of which day the final calendar day of Chanukah is.


<> The gemara goes on to say that they set aside these days and made them YOMIM TOVIM. Why the plural form? The Greeks were set on abolishing the setting of Chodesh by the courts, based on lunar sightings. This of course establishes the exact date of all the Yomim Tovim as well. In Eretz Yisroel there are eight days of actual Yom Tov, the first and seventh days of Pesach, Shovuos, two days of Rosh Hashonoh, Yom Kippur, Sukos, and Shmini Atzerres. We can thus say that the intention of the gemara is that they set aside these days as Chanukah and also rejoiced in being able to establish eight days of Yomim Tovim. (ChasaN Sofer)


<> The "mesoroh" lists three verses that have the common word "ki." They are, "Ki vorchov nolin" (Breishis 19:2), "Ki vasukos hoshavti es bnei Yisroel" (Vayikra 23:43), and "Ki ner mitzvoh v'Sorah 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 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 (In this Chanukah differs somewhat from the other two. There below ten is not valid, while by ner Chanukah it is actually preferable according to most authorities to place the menorah below ten handbreadths down to three, but no lower, see Sh.O. O.Ch. 671:6 and Mishnoh Bruroh #27.) from the ground and higher, 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'maloh 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, while Yud has the value of ten. (Nirreh li)


<> Matisyohu and his sons physically did battle with the Greeks and Hellenists. This mirrored the spiritual war of Hashem against the Greeks and Hellenists. "Hashem Elokei Yisroel melech umalchuso bakole mosholoh" (Rosh Hashonoh prayer) numerically equals "Matisyohu ben Yochonon Kohein Godol Chashmono'i uvonov." (Pre-lighting prayer authored by Rabbi Zvi Elimelech of Dinov)


<> We have earlier mentioned a few connections between our Patriarch Yaakov and Chanukah. In keeping with the maxim that "maa'sei ovos siman labonim," that which happened to our forefathers is a portender of what will take place with the descendants, a possible source for "mosarto giborim b'yad chaloshim" might be the verse "ki FODOH Hashem es Yaakov ug'olo mi'yad CHOZOK mi'menu" (Yirmiyohu 31:6), because Hashem has redeemed Yaakov from someone stronger than he. FODOH had the numerical value of 89, the same as Chanukah. (Nirreh li)


<> The Holy Zohar writes that there is an extension to the final judgment of Rosh Hashonoh and Yom Kippur. It is the final day of Chanukah, named "Zose Chanukah." This is alluded to by the words, "b'ZOSE y'chupar avone Yaakov" (Yeshayohu 27:9). (Taa'mei Haminhogim)

<> A mathematical allusion to the eighth day of Chanukah being a day of the final sealing of judgment for the year is: YOM, a day, equals 56. Eight days, eight times YOM equals 448. The word "chosom," a seal, equals 448. (Ahavas Yisroel)


<> The verse in Bmidbar 7:88 reads, "ZOSE chanukas hamizbei'ach ACHA'REI himoshach oso" - Four verses earlier we find the words "ZOSE chanukas hamizbei'ach B'YOM himoshach oso." The Holy Admor of Kotzk says that to have enthusiasm at the time of the inauguration of the Mishkon comes easily, as is human nature when encountering anything of interest for the first time. The true test of being connected to something is after the glamour of the newness fades. One should feel the CHANUKAH, the dedication, "ACHA'REI himoshach oso," afterwards, with the same enthusiasm as "B'YOM himoshach oso."

Perhaps a new interpretation of a nomenclature given to the last day of Chanukah, "ZOSE CHANUKAH," can be understood in a new "light." On a simple level the name "ZOSE CHANUKAH" is given to the eighth day of Chanukah because the Torah reading of that day includes "ZOSE chanukas hamizbei'ach B'YOM himoshach oso" (7:84). Since this is the last day of Chanukah, it is human nature that the excitement of Chanukah has dissipated. Yet we find the message of Chanukah is "maalin bakodesh," - we elevate ourselves in sanctity, demonstrated by following the opinion of Beis Hillel, that we increase the number of Chanukah lights each night. Perhaps the reason the last day of Chanukah is called "ZOSE CHANUKAH," is not in reference to "ZOSE chanukas hamizbei'ach B'YOM himoshach oso" (7:84), but rather to verse 88, "ZOSE chanukas hamizbei'ach ACHA'REI himoshach oso," teaching us that we must take the values taught by Chanukah with us for later, and to retain them with great enthusiasm.


~ 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.

~ Bmidbar 7:14 - "Kaf achas asoroh zohov m'lei'oh k'to'res" - This verse, mentioned on 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 while still wearing his tefillin. 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)

~ 22a - "Ner shel Chanukah shehinichoh l'maaloh mei'esrim amoh psuloh k'Sukoh uchmovuy" - 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)


~ "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'neros 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'neros 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'neros 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) ~~ HA'NEROS HALOLU ~~

~ "Ha'neros 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'neros 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 Hamelech)

~ "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 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)


~ 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'osoh 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.


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