Chanukah Candles in a Public Domain, a Traveler, and Hidur
Maran Hagaon Rav Mordechai Eliyahu shlita
A. Chanukah Candles in a Public Domain
The Gemara in Shabbat 21b states: "??? ?????, ??? ????? ?? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ????", that it is preferable to place the Chanukah candle within ten tefachim of the ground. Ravina derives this from a dispute between Tanna Kama and R. Yehuda regarding a storeowner who lit a candle in the street, and a camel walked by loaded with flax, which caught fire on the candle. Tanna Kama maintains that the storeowner is always responsible, while R. Yehuda says that in the case of a Chanukah candle he is exempt. Rashi explains that this is because he did it with the permission of "pirsum haness" (publicizing the miracle).
Ravina infers from this that the mitzvah is to light within ten tefachim, since otherwise the storeowner should have raised the candle above the height of the camel. The Gemara, however, refutes this inference. Perhaps it may be lit high, but Chazal did not require the storeowner to do so because it might be too difficult, and he will refrain from lighting.
Rashi explains that Ravina derives his law from the opinion of R. Yehuda, who exempts the storeowner in the case of a Chanukah candle. However, we have rule, that when a single tanna argues with many, we rule like the many. Thus, how then can Ravina derive this halacha from R. Yehuda, since we do not rule like him, but rather like Tanna Kama (that he is responsible even on Chanukah)?
The Rosh writes that even though the Gemara refutes Ravina's inference, it is still preferable to place it lower than ten tefachim, as Ravina said. Also, there is greater pirsum haness when the lights are placed below ten, since something that is meant for illumination is not normally placed so low. When a person lights high, such as on the table, it appears that it for illumination, whereas if it low, within ten, since it is not common to light in such a fashion -- it is clearly for pirsum haness. Thus, the Rosh approaches the issue from two ends: to follow Ravina, and based on the logic that this way the pirsum haness is more evident.
The Rashba (Shabbat 21b s.v. amar) asks, although we can derive from this dispute that the Chanukah lights must be below the height of a camel, from where did Ravina derive that the proper height is below ten tefachim? He answers that since the shiur is less than the twenty amot of succah, we establish it at the shiur of ten, which is also an official shiur of hechsher. The Rambam does not mention this halacha that it is preferable to light within ten tefachim. Either he accepts the Gemara's refutation that there is no proof from R. Yehuda, or he rejects Ravina because we don't follow R. Yehuda. Still, according to the Kabalists it should be under ten, ideally between seven and ten. This also accomplishes greater pirsum haness, as the Rosh writes.
The halacha is that if a person holds the Chanukah lights in his hand, there is no pirsum haness and he does not fulfill his obligation. The Pri Chadash suggests that if the person lit in a special Chanukah menorah with eight branches and a shamash -- even if he is holding it there is pirsum haness and he fulfills his obligation, but does not want to rely on this against the other poskim. Thus, nowadays that we do not light candles for illumination, but use electricity, it should not be necessary to light below ten because of the logic of the Rosh. (However, it is still recommended according to the kabala and for those whose accept Ravina.) But according to the Rashba, since Chazal chose a set shiur of ten tefachim, the law would remain.
The Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 418:12) rules, based on the Rambam: "If the storeowner placed his candle outside, he is responsible to pay ... even if it is a Chanukah candle, because he should have sat and watched that it does not damage." What is this addition of the Rambam?
[Perhaps he wants to emphasize, in an incidental manner, that the storeowner did nothing wrong in lighting the candle, which is allowed, just that he was negligent in guarding it, and that is why he is responsible. This is in contrast to those judges who rule that it is prohibited to light in a stairwell, and don't understand that lighting is the main mitzvah of Chanukah -- not jelly doughnuts and latkes!]
The Rambam writes that he should have sat and guarded his candle. Thus, for example, in a narrow street that a small car can barely pass through, a storeowner wants to light, while a car driver wants him to remove his candle. The storeowner suggests to him, "When you come -- honk and I'll move it." The driver doesn't want to do this, though, since he might get a fine for honking, and he will have to wait until the candle is moved. In this case, we tell the owner to go ahead and light in the street, but to sit there and move it if needed to. Furthermore, if a flammable gas truck passes, he is responsible to ensure it does not ignite. On a regular day one is not allowed to light in the street at all; on Chanukah one is allowed to light in the street, but has to be careful not to damage.
[A similar halacha applies to dumping water in the street. Normally, one is not allowed to dump water in the street, since people can slip. In the winter one is allowed to do so (even though there was no rain recently), but if the water damages -- the person is responsible. The Sages gave you permission to do -- not to damage!]
Thus, Chachamim don't argue with R. Yehuda that one is allowed to light in the street, just they insist that the person is responsible. Both the Sages and R. Yehuda maintain that the storeowner may light in the street and no one can prevent him. Chachamim say, though, that it is allowance with a requirement to guard. Thus, we understand how Ravina can infer from this dispute that the candle must be lit below ten, since even Tanna Kama does not dispute this point.
B. Candle Lighting for a Storeowner
From the dispute of Tanna Kama and R. Yehuda it seems that every storeowner has to light Chanukah lights, and the only question is whether he is responsible for or exempt from damages. But is every storeowner really obligated? It is true that we recommend to stores to light electric menorahs for additional pirsum haness, but to light with a bracha?!
The Gemara in Succah writes regarding the booth of a vendor, that the inner succah is valid, because it is for living, while the outer one is not, since it is not for living. The vendor used to live inside, and sell his wares in the outer booth. We allow the vendor to light in the street on Chanukah because he lives there.
C. Candle Lighting on Erev Shabbat
The Rambam writes that the time for lighting is at sunset. (The GR"A, as well, maintains this way.) The Shulchan Aruch rules to light at nightfall (tzeit hacochavim). We recommend that even those who follow the Rambam and GR"A should provide enough oil to last until tzeit hacochavim, to accommodate the other opinion. On Erev Shabbat, even though we light before Shabbat, the candles must last at least 1/2 hour after sunset (and, preferably, after tzeit).
The Ran asks on the Rambam (and Rif), who write that the lighting must be then -- not before and not after -- why not light earlier, as we find on Erev Shabbat? Rather, the Ran explains that the main mitzvah is at that time, but it is possible to light earlier, as evident from Erev Shabbat. However, from the Halachot Gedolot it seems that only then, and even on Erev Shabbat he rules to light after sunset, like Rav Yosef that it is still day until the sky darkens. We do not rule this way, but light before night. But the difficulty remains according to the Rambam? The (first) Rokeach and Terumat Hadeshen explain based on the concept of "machshirei mitzvah" (preparatory steps) that turn into a mitzvah. We are supposed to light at sunset, but since we cannot light on Shabbat itself, when we light shortly before Shabbat, the "machshir," which must be done beforehand, turns into a mitzvah.
Based on this we can understand the dispute between the Rama and the Taz, if a person lit Erev Shabbat before sunset and then the flame went out after a few minutes. Normally we rule "???? ??? ?÷?÷ ??", if the candle went out, there is no need to relight it, even though it is still lighting time. The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 674:2) rules this way even regarding Erev Shabbat. The Taz, however, asks, why should you not have to relight it on Erev Shabbat, since the time for lighting doesn't come till night? In practice, we are machmir to light again without a bracha. The basis of the dispute can be explained as follows: Do we consider the lighting on Erev Shabbat as if lighting at sunset, in which case there is no need to relight the candle, or do we allow you to light on Erev Shabbat since there is no choice, since we cannot light on Shabbat, but if it went out -- you must relight. (According to the Rokeach and Terumat Hadeshen, though, everyone agrees that machshirei mitzvah are like the mitzvah.)
D. A Traveler
The basic halacha of Chanukah lights is that a man exempts his wife and family. The Rama adds that the common practice [of Ashkenazim] is that each family member lights himself. Daughters, though, do not light. Why not? When the son grows up -- he will light, whereas when the daughter does -- she will be exempt with their husband, since "ishto kegufo" (a man's wife is like himself). Based on this principle of ishto kegufo, she can even exempt her husband when he is away.
The question arises regarding a Sephardi young man who wants to light on his own in Yeshiva and not rely on father -- may he do so? The same question applies to a man who is traveling -- may he light himself?
The Gemara relates that when R. Zera was single he would chip in a few pennies with his host, but after he was married -- if he needed to travel away from home -- he relied on his wife. (Rashi explains that his wife would light for him in his house. Based on this, if a man comes home late, his wife should light for him at home -- and he is exempt. However, if the husband is away, e.g. he is on miluim (reserve duty), and the wife is not home, but is spending Chanukah at her parents -- she cannot exempt him.)
It is hard to understand why R. Zera refused to chip in any longer with his host. Was he so stingy that he cared so much about the few pennies?! The Terumat Hadeshen (#101) deals with a married traveler who wants to light himself, even though his wife is probably lighting for him at home. He concludes that he may, because this is included in the institution of "mehadrin," because there is a hidur for a man and wife who are in two places to light themselves. The Beit Yosef (O.C. 677) argues, since we cannot rely on this to risk making a bracha for naught. The Darchei Moshe, however, writes that the common practice is like the Terumat Hadeshen.
What is the issue of the Terumat Hadeshen? He discusses whether we should say that since he can be exempt with his wife, he would be considered a fool if he does not do so, and to bless later would be considered a bracha for naught, or should we say that to light himself is included in the institution of mehadrin. The Terumat Hadeshen points out that although we find the mehadrin of adding more candles for the various household members, we do not find explicitly such a hidur for a traveler. He concludes, though, that he is allowed to light, and the Rama rules like him. But where do we find such mehadrin? Perhaps we can explain slightly differently, that if when the wife lights it is as if her husband lit -- he cannot light again with a bracha, but if we say that the wife exempts her husband -- if he does not want to be exempt he may light by himself. (The Terumat Hadeshen focuses on an additional issue, maybe the wife will forget, and concludes that we have no reason to assume this, even if it happened once before.)
However, from the Mishna Berurah it seems that the husband does not need explicit intention to exempt his wife (as is needed by Shofar and Megillah), and conversely perhaps the man is exempt even if has no intention to be exempted. Perhaps, the man is presumed to have his wife in mind. However, Rashi writes in the case of R. Zera, "ali -- bishvili" (for me). On the other hand, presumably she doesn't think about exempting her husband, but just lights the Chanukah candles the way she lights Shabbat candles. (The truth is that the Shabbat candles are also an obligation on the husband, just that the opportunity is given first to the woman). Perhaps Chanukah lights do require intention, just that whereas the man is presumed to have intention to exempt his wife, the wife is not presumed to do so, unless she explicitly has in mind to exempt him. But what if she does not know the halacha and just lights? Perhaps she lights based on her husband's instructions, and since he knows that halacha that she should have him in mind -- it is as if she intends for him.
Thus, the Terumat Hadeshen concludes that if the person doesn't want to be exempt, but rather to light by himself, this is included in mehadrin and he can make a blessing. The Beit Yosef argues, since it is a "bracha she'aina tzricha" (an unwarranted blessing). But why, if he doesn't want to be exempt? The source of the dispute is whether a "bracha she'aina tzricha" is a Biblical prohibition. Thus, if it is de'oraita, as the Mechaber maintains, clearly we would not risk violating a de'oraita for a mere hidur of a mitzvah derabanan. However, the Rama rules that "bracha she'aina tzricha" is only a Rabbinical prohibition -- and when he light mehadrin min hamehadrin he fulfills a mitzvah derabanan.
E. Hidur on Chanukah
This hidur is one of the special halachot of Chanukah. In truth, the whole of idea of mehadrin and mehadrin min hamehadrin is unique. Although we commonly find a distinction between kosher and mehudar, we don't find anywhere to take two etrogim, for the sake of hidur. Similarly, we do not given two gittin unless there is a great need. Thus, the Mechaber says that he can't intend not to be exempt -- we find hidur to light more candles, not to light unnecessarily. According to the Rama, though, extra lighting is also a kind of hidur.
Incidentally, note that for the small amount of miracle oil -- a couple of gallons -- tons have been lit over the course of generations. Yet, we find the story of R. Chanina b. Dosa whose family lit with vinegar, instead of oil, and it burned until Motzei Shabbat? Do we commemorate this miracle? Similarly, Elisha performed a miracle for the wife of the prophet Ovadiah, which involved much more oil! Do we institute a holiday over this? The idea is, if there is a lack simply in gashmiut -- someone is missing oil for light, or for sustenance -- there is no need to commemorate the miracle. In "Machzik Bracha," the Chida dealt with a real case of two partners who sold oil. Each took one barrel to sell, and they shared profit. A "miracle" occurred to one of them, and his barrel refilled. His partner wanted half. He responded that if G-d wanted you to profit -- the miracle would have been in your barrel! The Chida ruled that they should split the "miraculous" oil, since it was not really a miracle, but rather the little bit of oil that was at the bottom of the barrel increased.
Chazal say that Greeks forced Israel to write "We have no share in the G-d of Israel" on the horn of their oxen. Couldn't they a find better place then this, such as to write it on the entrance to the cities or on their houses? The ox signifies hidur, as it says, "???? ???? ??? ??". (Devarim 33:17) The Greeks said: If you want to do mitzvot -- fine. But if you want to do them with hidur, then G-d relates in a special way, as we find regarding bentching, "How can I not show favor to Israel..." -- and this they objected to. The Greeks wanted to uproot the notion of hidur from Israel.
On Chanukah we read the portion of the dedication of the Mishkan by the princes of the tribes. We should learn a lesson from this. Chazal say that the parts of the Mishkan were completed on 25 Kislev, but G-d delayed constructing it until Nisan, the month of Pesach. The date 25 Kislev came and complained to G-d, "I merited that the Mishkan was completed on me, so why should I lose out on its construction and dedication?" G-d consoled the date that He would repay it, and it was set aside for the times of the Chashmonaim. They will be victorious and will light the candles and require all of Israel to light forever (according to the Rambam, even in the times of Mashiach). I.e., when a person deserves something, and it is taken away to be replaced with something better -- he should not be ungrateful. Therefore Am Yisrael celebrates Chanukah with hidur, contrary to what the Greeks sought.
On the last day a Chanukah, it is good to add to the reading the portion about the Menorah in the beginning of Parshat Beha'alotecha. The simple reason is that it deals with lighting candles. However, we can explain more deeply. Aharon Hakohen, who was known to be "one who loves peace and seeks peace, loves people..." when he sees the princes dedicating the Mishkan and he was not part of them, felt bad. He was not jealous that they were able to offer the dedication, but was worried, "Why not me and my tribe?" G-d consoled him that his share is greater than theirs, for he will light candles. The Ramban explains that this is a reference to the lights of Chanukah. However, the simple meaning is the candles of the Temple. How are they better? The simple explanation is that the dedication ceremony was once, while the candle lighting is forever, morning and night. However, the Rambam rules that a non-kohen can light the Menorah. (There is a technical question, how can he get in so as to light? -- Perhaps he reaches in with a stick, or the Menorah is taken out and then returned.)
When the kohen lights the Menorah -- "one who wants to become wealthy -- should turn towards the north; one who seeks wisdom -- should turn towards the south." The Menorah is in the south. The Menorah provides a shefa (bountiful influence) of Torah, kedusha, yirat shamayim, and blessing. The Menorah is called, "?????? ??????". In what way was it pure? If because it was solid gold, other items were also of pure gold. Rather it is because the Menorah bring a shefa of purity When the princes offered sacrifices, Hashem said to Aharon: "You bring down the shefa of wisdom and purity to Am Yisrael." When the Greeks entered the Temple, they didn't spill the oil and break the Menorah, but rather defiled them. The Maharsha writes that they wanted to introduce tumah -- reform to the Torah -- into Am Yisrael, into the Menorah, the source of purity and sanctity.
The Greeks also defiled the Menorah. The Chashmonaim made a new one, first out of lead, and when they became richer, out of gold.. When they saw that they had no pure oil, they felt bad. Although they were victorious, but what about the shefa of sanctity?! When they saw the miracle -- they felt happy. This is why we have hidur and mehadrin min hamehadrin on Chanukah. We tell G-d, "Show us favor, because we do mehadrin min hamehadrin."
The Chida writes that an avreich who is receiving a stipend has to come learn a few minutes early and stay a few minutes afterwards for hidur, since during the official seder time he is learning for his stipend and not lishma. This is relevant also for bachurim, even though they do not receive a stipend. They should keep learning for hidur even after the official seder is over, until the Mashgiach comes and says that it is time to go to sleep. Sleep is also important. A person should learn a lot, but must maintain his health.
Chazal say that Yaakov didn't sleep for fourteen years while he learned in the Beit Midrash of Shem and Ever. (He must have just dosed standing over his shtender.) When he finally slept on his way to Charan, he slept on the ground. This means that during the fourteen years he did not even sleep on the ground. Then Hashem makes it suddenly dark, and he sleeps. When he woke up, he was all excited, "Fourteen years I didn't sleep, and now at the House of G-d I slept?!" Hashem said, "That was your own issue. When at My house -- sleep!" Sometimes the yetzer hara say, "Keep learning!", but then the person falls asleep during the shiur next day. It is also a mitzvah to sleep.
F. "??????? ??????"
Some ask: We have to add Torah on Chanukah, so why is there vacation? We should learn more, not less! I once answered, so that the students shouldn't have to waste time traveling, but can learn the entire day at home. The Greeks saw ??????? ?????? as a goal. They felt a mission to defile the oil, the Torah. When they saw they were unsuccessful, they tried to make us forget it.
The Gemara says that if a person would make a bracha the Geeks would kill him. They didn't allow mentioning the Name of G-d. They were afraid that if the children would hear G-d's name, they would ask, "Who is that?" and then learn about Him.
Chazal also say that in Yavneh they established to say ???? ??????? in bentching. This teaches -- don't be an ingrate. When a Rav gives shiur, he prepared hard for it, organizing and polishing it. You have to drink his words with thirst, especially your dear Rosh Hayeshiva, Rav Mordechai Greenberg shlita -- whom I know as a wise and perceptive person with tremendous knowledge. Drink thirstily from beginning to end; go over the shiur, ask, "What can I extract from it?"
The mitzvah of mehadrin has to light up the entire year. A Rav once explained that the reason we cannot benefit from the Chanukah lights, unlike Shabbat candles, is because the Chanukah lights parallel those in the Temple. The kohen is not allowed to benefit from the lights of the Temple, although he does not have to shut his eyes when he passes by. On the other hand, Shabbat candles are to benefit, to eat for the sake of "oneg Shabbat." The food is tastier and more filling when you can see it.
Perhaps another reason not to benefit is to demonstrate that the Chanukah lights have to last though until next year -- "they are sacred." We have to learn from them to be "mosif veholeich" (constantly adding). When Yaakov sought to sit in tranquility (at the beginning of Parshat Vayeishev) he was punished with the trouble of Yosef. Don't stand still! If you learned -- learned more, both in depth and in time. If a person says that he is not successful and leaving Yeshiva -- the Gemara says not until forty years... We must make an effort to constantly rise.
We daven, "Place in our hearts understanding, to understand and to comprehend." We have to understand this prayer. The Chachmei Mussar say: Woe to the person who davens with great kavana for everything, including, "??? ??? ???????". Then Hashem grants him wisdom, and he wastes it on trivial worldly matters. You prayed for understanding -- fulfill what you prayed for! One who has kavana for this prayer -- Hashem will help, if not completely, at least 1%. No prayer is wasted. You should learn and review, and continue learning and reviewing. [It says, "A wise man's mind [tends] to his right, while a fool's mind [tends] to his left." (Kohelet 10:2) The wise man, after learning, keeps turning the pages back to the right to review, while the fool keeps turning pages to the left.] Review, analyze, keep the notes, say over what he asks, what he answered; ask, "Did I understand?" If not -- pull out the notes. If you are learning the Tosfot, and they ask a question -- break your head over it. If you do not come up with Tosfot's answer or a better one -- then you didn't understand the sugya properly.
Yosef was a "ben zekunim" (wise son). Rashi explains that Yosef managed to learn by age seventeen all that Yaakov learned at the house of Shem and Ever, which took 14 years of non-stop learning. Since he was wise, he understood the principles of learning.
The Menorah brings a abundant flow of Torah and purity. The whole problem of the Greeks was "??????? ??????". I would like to bless everyone, including myself, to be "mosif veholeich," to learn and understand more, and then, in the merit of Torah -- "???? ??? ?????" -- and then all the terrorists and enemies will be gone, "??? ????? ????".
קוד השיעור: 3922
Written by Rav Meir Orlian (Shiur delivered 27 Kislev 5761)