The Living Torah is a weekly publication distributed in and around North West London. Written by members of Hasmonean High School's Sixth Form programme - we aim to bring you divrei torah for your Shabbat table each and everyweek.

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Thursday, 7 January 2010

Guest Post by Avi Greenberg - Chanukah Dvar Torah

We have tried to bring a couple of interesting discussions about some the particular details of the lighting of the Chanukah candles. Both are taken from the Sefer, Merapsin Igri.

Why Light?

The Medrash Tanchuma says that the Menorah in the Bet Hamikdash was kept alight by a miracle. They used to light it at the beginning of the year and it would stay lit for the whole year!
The Chidushei Harim asked a question on this. Surely there is a mitzvah to light the Menorah every day. If it was alight for the whole year, surely they weren't fulfilling the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah every day?

He answers that they added some oil each day and this counted as if they had relit it.
However, there is a problem with this. In the Shulchan Aruch we learn that on Chanukah we must light the Chanukiah with enough oil for it to burn half an hour. If not enough was added, we may not pour in more whilst it is burning, as it would have no effect. Rather, you would have to blow it out and start again.

Surely, according to what the Chidushei Harim explained, adding oil counts as relighting. If so, why does it not work on Chanukah?

Answers HaRav Moshe Feinstein that the two separate lightings are for two separate reasons; in the Bet Hamikdash the Mitzvah was merely to light the candles whereas on Chanukah we want to create Pirsumei Nisah - publicizing the miracle.

In a case where we need only light candles, by prolonging the time of their burning it is like we are lighting them.

However, the Chanukah candles are meant to symbolise the miracle performed by Hashem when he kept the Menorah burning on the little amount of oil. If we have to refill the oil, how does this send out
the message of Hashem's ability to prolong the burning of the Menorah lights? It ruins the whole point of lighting candles. We therefore make sure that they will be seen to burn for long enough on their own.

Whoops, I forgot to light...

The Taz writes that if one brought in Shabbat and then realized that he had to light his Menorah, he should ask a relative to light his candles for him.
However, we have a principle that one may not appoint a Shaliach - messenger - for something one cannot do one's self. If so, how can you ask someone to light the candles when it is already Shabbat for you?

Rav Chaim Kaniefski answers that there is an opinion that the obligation of candle lighting is that each house needs lights. According to this opinion, the Taz fits in well as he isn't appointing his relative as a Shaliach rather he is just ensuring that the house has lit candles.

Alternatively, Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg answers that we misunderstood when you may not appoint a Shaliach. It only applies if you would be unable to do the actual deed e.g. trying to become engaged with a married lady. In that case one may not appoint a Shaliach to carry out the engagement, as he himself could not actually do so himself.

On the other hand, in our case, he is able to light the candles. He could easily light them. However, it happens to be that he has brought in Shabbat already. Therefore he may not light the candles himself, but rather he may appoint a Shaliach.

Hope you all enjoyed that and a mazal tov to Boaz Gaventa on his Bar Mitzvah.
Avi Greenberg - Literary Editor

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