Friday, November 30, 2007

Lighting on the Table

The Gemora in Shabbos (21b) states that it is a mitzvah to place the menorah for Chanukah at the entrance to one’s house. During the dangerous times, they would light the menorah on the table inside and that would be sufficient.

What would be the halacha nowadays? Can one light the menorah on his table and with that, fulfill his mitzvah? Do we say that since it is not dangerous now, the halacha reverts back to the original ruling that the menorah must be lit facing outside?

The Dvar Yehoshua offers proof from the beginning of Meseches Kesuvos (3b). There it says that during the dangerous times and onward, they would marry on a Tuesday, and the Rabbis did not protest. The Shitah Mekubetzes writes that even after the danger was over, they still married on a Tuesday. This was because there was a concern that it may return to the dangerous times.

Our Gemora states: Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel says: From the time of danger (when the idolaters decreed that mitzvos may not be performed) and onwards, a woman may collect her kesuvah without a get, and a creditor may collect without a pruzbul.

The Rambam in Hilchos shemitah (9:24) rules: If a lender claims that he had a pruzbul and he lost it, he is believed, for from the time of danger and onwards, a creditor may collect without a pruzbul.

The Kesef Mishna explains: Although presently, there is no danger, we do not differentiate between two different times. Accordingly, you might be able to apply the same logic regarding lighting the menorah on a table inside the house even when there is no danger.

The Reshash offers the following comment according to the Kesef Mishna: It is for this reason that the Mishna uses the precise terminology of, “and from the time of danger and onwards.” This teaches us that the halacha is applicable even after the danger is no longer here.

Reb Yitzchak Zilberstein writes that accordingly, there would be no proof from this halacha to the lighting of the menorah. There, the Gemora states that during the dangerous times, they would light the menorah on the table inside and that would be sufficient. It does not say, “and from the time of danger and onwards.” Therefore, it can be said that one would not fulfill his mitzvah of lighting the menorah if he lights it on the table.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Since tonight will be the fifth night of Chanukah, we wanted to enlighten you on a very interesting but technical discussion.

Kollel Iyun Hadaf


brought to you by
Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

GENERAL : Fifth Night of Chanukah

Barry Epstein asked:

I heard a speech that the 5th day of Hanukah is the darkest day because it is the only day that can't fall on a Shabbos. The venue was a bris and therefore the point was that the bris brought light to this day. Since Hanukah doesn't have any rules regarding specific days, is this fact correct? If so, is it because of other Hagim that don't can't fall on certain days and therefore it leads the 5th day of Hanukah to always miss Shabbos?

Barry Epstein, Dallas, USA

The Kollel replies:

The fifth day of Chanukah is 29 Kislev. The rules for determining whether any calendar day can fall out on any particular weekday are as follows:
1) Every month of the year, except for three, has a set number of days. Three months can vary in length. Thus, the number of days in each month may be listed as follows:
Nisan - 30
Iyar - 29
Sivan - 30
Tamuz - 29
Av - 30
Elul - 29
Tishrei - 30
CHESHVAN - 29 or 30
KISLEV - 29 or 30
Teves - 29
Shevat - 30
ADAR - 29, and in a leap year the two Adars are 59 days

2) Regarding the variable months of Kislev and Teves, the rule is that there can be three combinations: Either both are 29 (the year is 'Chaser'), or both are 30 (the year is 'Malei'), or Cheshvan is 29 and Kislev is 30 (the year is 'k'Sidran', i.e. these two months follow the pattern of the rest of the months). The fourth possibility is not acceptable: Cheshvan cannot be longer than Kislev.

3) There are two rules to keep in mind regarding the day of the week that any calendar day falls out on:

a. We do not want Hoshana Raba to fall on Shabbos (because we won't be able to make the Hakafos with the Lulav).

b. We do not want Yom Kipur to fall on a Friday or Sunday (because if someone dies in the beginning of the first day, we will not be able to bury him until after the end of the second day).

In other words, Hoshana Raba (21 Tishrei) cannot be a Shabbos, Tuesday, or Thursday, and Rosh Hashanah cannot be on a Sunday, Wednesday or Friday. This is known as "Lo AD'U Rosh" (see Rosh
Hashanah 20a, Rambam Hilchos Kidush ha'Chodesh 7:1,7, Ra'avad there 7:7).

4) Based on these rules, our friend Reb Yoel ha'Levi Steinberg pointed out the following:

a. If Cheshvan is 29 days, then a simple look at the calendar will show that 29 Kislev cannot fall on a Shabbos without making the previous Yom Kipur a Friday, which is not allowed (see above, #3b).

b. If Cheshvan is 30 days, then Kislev must be 30 days as well (see above, #2). If the year is not a leap year, then a simple look at the calendar will show that 29 Kislev cannot fall on a Shabbos without making the following Hoshana Raba a Shabbos, which is also not allowed (see above, #3b).

c. However, if Cheshvan and Kislev are both 30 days and the year is a leap year, then it would seem that we do not have to violate any of the rules in #3. Why, then, can't 29 Kislev be a Shabbos when both Cheshvan and Kislev are 30 days, and it is a leap year? (Reb Yoel did not provide an answer to this point.)

5) To answer this, let's go back to Rosh Hashanah. If Cheshvan is 30 days and the 29th of Kislev is a Shabbos, that means that the Rosh Hashanah of that year was a Tuesday. When Rosh Hashanah is Tuesday and the year is a leap year, the Rambam writes (Hilchos Kidush ha'Chodesh 8:10) that the year must be k'Sidran, and not Malei (i.e. Cheshvan will only have 29 days). Thus, 29 Kislev will not be Shabbos.

The explanation for this is not perfectly clear; here is what I saw:

When Rosh Hashnah is Tuesday and the year is a leap year, on what day will the following Rosh Hashanah fall out?

If the year is 'k'Sidran' (Cheshvan 29, Kislev 30), the next Rosh Hashanah will be on Monday. If the year is 'Malei' (Cheshvan 30, Kislev 30 - the scenario we are looking for) next Rosh Hashanah will be on Tuesday. Both cases do not violate the "Lo AD'U Rosh" rule (see above, #3). Since we have an acceptable scenario for the year if it is 'k'Sidran' (i.e. the months of Cheshvan Kislev follow the normal 29/30 day pattern that the other months follow), we will not make the year 'Malei'. Thus, in a leap year when Rosh Hashanah was Tuesday, Cheshvan is assigned only 29 days, and the 29th of Kislev will be
Friday and not Shabbos (see above, #4a). [Based on KI HI CHOCHMASCHEM by Rav Shlomo Rosner, p. 133]


There is a more complicated explanation for the why the leap year under discussion must be k'Sidran, but it is beyond the scope of our discussion. Here is a rough outline of how it works:

Rosh Hashanah will be on Tuesday in a leap year only if the Molad was between 12:00 PM Monday and 11:59:59 AM on Tuesday. When we add to that thirteen times the length of the lunar month, we find that the Molad of the following Rosh Hashanah will be sometime between Sunday morning and Monday morning. THe appropriate day for the following Rosh Hashanah is therefore Monday (since Rosh Hashanah cannot be a Sunday; see above #3). If the year is "Malei", it will push off Rosh Hashanah to Tuesday, which is unnecessary and undesired, therefore the year will be k'Sidran. (Based on Peirush printed in the Rambam, Hilchos Kidush ha'Chodesh 8:10, see Itim l'Binah by R. Yosef Ginzburg, end of Ma'amar #11.)

I hope this was helpful.

Best wishes,
Mordecai Kornfeld

Daf Yomi and Chanukah

A very nice post from Reb Aryeh Lebowitz pertaining to the daf and to Chanukah (you can find many insightful and in depth discussions here on the daf ).

The gemara questions how the Jews were able to bring the korban omer when they first arrived in Eretz Yisroel. The Ran (in the chidushei haran) wonders why they couldn't have brought their own grain from the other side of the yardein, which would be kasher l'omer b'dieved. The Ran answers that even though something may be kasher b'dieved, the very first time you do something cannot be in a b'dieved fashion. Rav Yosef Engel (gilyonei hashas to Shabbos 21b as expounded by Rav Yonasan Sacks shlit"a) extends this idea as follows: the torah in Parshiyos Terumah/Tetzaveh tells us about the mitzvah of constructing the mishkan and its various keilim. It also mentions, along with each k'li, what that k'li was used for (the mitzvah of avoda associated with it). The gemara Sanhedrin daf 17 understands that while Moshe was able to consecrate keilim with the shemen hamishcha, once we no longer have the shemen hamishcha the avoda of the kli is what gives it its kedusha and allows it to be used in avoda. Essentially, the torah tells us of the avoda together with the construction because the completion of the "construction" may be the very first avoda one does with that kli. This is why the torah only mentions the korban tamid when it talks about the avoda of the mizbeach even though there are so many other korbanos for which the mizbeach is used (because the focus is not on what it is used for but on what its first use is for because it derives its kedusha and is only complete after the first use. The idea is that the beginning of everything sets the tone and must be on the highest level. The first use of each kli paves the way for every subsequent use and therefore is viewed with extra scrutiny. With this Rav Yosef Engel explains the necessity for the neis shemen on chanukah in light of tumah hutrah/dechuya betzibur. It may be okay to have the oil tamei for lighting the menorah, but it is not okay to have tamei oil for the chanukas hamenorah which is meant to set the tone for each subsequent lighting. This is why the ba'alei hatosafos on the torah explain "bi'krovai ekadeish" that on the day a kohein hedyot starts his avoda he can't become tamei even to kerovim, because the beginning and chinuch of his avoda must be b'tahara.

Chanuka Potpourri

Compiled by Oizer Alport

On Chanuka we add a paragraph to the Shemoneh Esrei prayers and to Birkas HaMazon in which we thank Hashem for the miracles which He performed at this time. After describing all of the miracles which Hashem performed for our ancestors, this paragraph, known as “Al HaNissim,” concludes וקבעו שמונת ימי חנוכה אלו להודות ולהלל לשמך הגדול – and they (the sages) established the 8 days of Chanuka to give thanks and praise to Your Holy name. In the “Al Hanissim” paragraph which is added on Purim, no analogous mention is made of the manner in which we commemorate the miracles Hashem performed for Mordechai and Esther. Further, if they opted to discuss our religious obligations on Chanuka, why is no mention made of the requirement to light the menorah, which is traditionally considered to be the primary mitzvah associated with publicizing the miracle of Chanuka?
Secondly, the song known as “Maoz Tzur” which is traditionally sung each day after lighting the menorah refers to the enactment of Chanuka as בני בינה ימי שמונה קבעו שיר ורננים – men of insight established 8 days for singing and rejoicing. As there are numerous words in Hebrew to connote wisdom (e.g. חכמה, דעה), why are they specifically referred to as בני בינה – men of understanding? Finally is the famous question attributed to the Beis Yosef: if there was enough oil for one day, then the miracle was in reality only for the last 7 days, so why is Chanuka commemorated for 8 days and not for 7?
Before beginning to answer these questions, let us pose one additional question, the answer to which will provide the key to addressing these questions. Studying science and revealing the depth and intricacy of Hashem’s Creation often brings people to believe in Hashem as they marvel at the impossibility of it all occurring by chance. As history teaches that although the ancient Greeks were on the cutting edge of science and knowledge of the natural world, why were they also the biggest heretics?
This last question may be answered with a parable. There were two families who performed tremendous acts of chesed (kindness). The first family noticed a poor homeless beggar and invited him to their home for a warm supper, a shower, a change of clothes, and a good night’s sleep. The second family heard of the plight of a young abandoned baby and with great mercy adopted him and raised him as their very own. While both are admirable, praiseworthy acts, the latter clearly far outweighs the former, as it is an obligation for life versus a commitment of one night.
Yet upon speaking with the homeless man and the adopted child and measuring their levels of gratitude, one would surprisingly find the homeless man gushing with effusive praise for his compassionate hosts, while the child will be far less enthusiastic. The explanation for this phenomenon is that because he was adopted at such a young age, the child has grown accustomed to their myriad acts of kindness to the point of taking them for granted and assuming that they occur automatically, whereas the homeless man is able to recognize the magnitude of their unexpected thoughtfulness.
Similarly, the ancient Greeks were leaders at furthering the understanding and awareness of the natural world, but they were led astray by the very fact that the focus of their inquiries – nature – is by definition constant and self-perpetuating. This led them to take nature for granted and to view it as an independent power unto itself. Not surprisingly, the gematria (numerical value) of the word הטבע (nature) is the same (86) as that of אלקים, yet they erred in concluding that nature is a god rather than His work and the way in which His Divine Will manifests itself in this world.
This introduction provides a deeper understanding of the victory of the Chashmonaim over the Greeks. The struggle wasn’t merely military in nature, but it represented a battle over this fundamental mistake made by the Greeks. The Chashmonaim realized that everything in the world comes from Hashem, and everything – including nature itself – is in reality a miracle. The Ramban writes (Shemos 13:16) that from clear and open miracles a person should come to recognize that even the mundane things he takes for granted, such as nature, as also miraculous, albeit in a “hidden” form. This concept is so fundamental to Jewish belief that he concludes that one who denies this has no portion in the Torah.
In this light, we can now appreciate the answer given by the Alter of Kelm to the well-known question of the Beis Yosef. The question was that because there was enough oil to burn on the first day, no miracle occurred and therefore Chanuka should be celebrated only for the 7 days that the oil burned “miraculously.” The Altar of Kelm answers that the miracle of the first day is that oil burns at all! One will argue that this isn’t miraculous, but just the functioning of the laws of nature, but this is exactly the point! The first day of Chanuka commemorates the recognition that nature itself is a creation of Hashem, and just because one is accustomed to it on a daily basis, it is no less miraculous than the fact that the oil burned for longer than it was supposed to!
The Gemora in Taanis (25a) relates that one Friday, the daughter of Rav Chanina ben Dosa accidentally put vinegar in the Shabbos candles instead of oil. Her father wasn’t fazed, as he unequivocally declared that “He who told oil to burn can tell vinegar to burn.” He recognized clearly that the accepted laws of nature are essentially arbitrary; if Hashem willed them to be another way, they could just as easily be completely different. He understood that there is nothing intrinsically more miraculous in the burning of oil than that of vinegar, as nature is just another, more hidden, form of a miracle. Not surprisingly, the Gemora concludes that for somebody on such a level, an open miracle occurred and he lit his Havdolah candle from those very same vinegar candles which were still burning strong!
In a similar vein, Rav Moshe Feinstein answers another difficulty raised with the wording of the “Al Hanisim” prayers for Chanuka. Why is no mention made of the most well-known miracle associated with Chanuka, the burning of the oil for 8 days? Based on the above, he suggests that it is indeed mentioned, in the words והדליקו נרות בחצרות קדשך – they lit candles in Your Holy Temple. One may point out this this wasn’t the miracle of the oil, as they had enough oil to burn initially, but this is exactly the point! That the oil burned at all was the first miracle of the oil, and one no less miraculous than that which occurred on the remaining 7 days!
In light of the above, Rav Shmuel Rozovsky beautifully explains why the sages are specifically referred to as בני בינה. Rashi writes (Devorim 1:13) that binah is specifically used to connote the wisdom of being מבין דבר מתוך דבר – extrapolating from one concept and using it to understand something else. This is the precise description of the Chashmonaim, who acted in line with the aforementioned Ramban’s principle, and from the open miracle that they witnessed on the last 7 days, they were able to step back and use it to recognize that the lighting of the first day had been just as miraculous.
This was their conquest over the Greeks and their pagan philosophy. Had they only established a holiday of 7 days, they would have missed the entire point. The Greeks also would have agreed to make a holiday commemorating the latter 7 days, but that was their entire defeat. We therefore stress that the wise and understanding men established 8 days for singing and praising; the fact that they made it 8 and not 7 is precisely the proof that they were בני בינה!
The Gemora in Berachos (7b) states that in naming her 4th son Yehuda in order to express her gratitude to Hashem (Bereishis 29:35), Leah became the first person in history to thank Hashem. How can it be that the righteous Avrohom, Sorah, Yitzchok, Rivkah, and Yaakov never once thanked Hashem? The K’sav Sofer answers that they thanked Hashem repeatedly, but only for the open miracles. Leah was the first person to thank Hashem for something which could be classified as “natural,” the birth of 4 sons. She recognized that nature is also a miracle and requires just as much gratitude as the open miracles!
The Bach writes (Orach Chaim 670) that the Greeks were able to control and overpower the Jews at that time because they weakened themselves in their Divine Service. The Shem Mi’Shmuel clarifies that the Bach doesn’t mean to say that they weren’t observing the mitzvos. They were doing everything that they were required to do, but they were doing it כמצוות אנשים מלומדה – from rote and habit.
In discussing how long the menorah must burn, the Gemora (Shabbos 21b) doesn’t give an amount of time as one would expect but rather an unusual measurement: עד שתכלה רגל מן השוק, until people’s feet are no longer walking around outside in the marketplace (where they will be able to see the menorahs, and hence there is no further purpose in publicizing the miracle).
The Chiddushei HaRim suggests that the word “ha’regel” (the foot) can also be read “hergel” (habit). The foot is the part of the body which is farthest from the brain, and as such it is the most capable of functioning on “automatic pilot” without any thought at all. The Gemora can be re-read to require “ad she’tich’leh hergel min ha’shok.” A person only fulfills his obligation on Chanuka when he turns off the “cruise control” and begins to act in a thought-out, premeditated manner.
It has been cynically suggested that while Orthodox Jews are traditionally subdivided into the categories of FFB (Frum From Birth) and BT (Baal Teshuva), most of them fall into a 3rd category, FFH (Frum From Habit), people who keep Shabbos because they did it last week, and who eat kosher because that’s what they did growing up. Chanuka is a time to work to overcome this and become thinking Jews!
The question with which we began was why the “Al Hanisim” on Chanuka concludes with how the miracles are commemorated, and once it does so, why does it only mention the need to give thanks while overlooking the lighting of the menorah? Rabbi Yosef Sonnenschein suggests that because the goal of Chanuka is to overcome the power of habit, giving thanks to Hashem is an integral part of the holiday.
If a person does most mitzvos, including lighting the menorah, without proper intent, it definitely takes away from the value of the mitzvah, but at the end of the day the mitzvah was still done. The burning menorah publicizes the miracle to all who see it regardless of the concentration, or lack thereof, of the one who lit it. Gratitude, on the other hand, if offered unenthusiastically, isn’t considered as having been given yet somewhat deficiently; it’s meaningless and wasn’t given at all! If a person doesn’t feel that somebody has benefited him, or ascribes to him ulterior motives, or simply doesn’t feel appreciative, then saying an insincere “thank you” is hollow and worthless.
Although it is incredibly difficult to feel and express proper appreciatin for Hashem’s kindnesses, this is no excuse. Rav Nosson Wachtfogel points out that the days of Chanuka are miraculous days, a time of being above the laws of nature. The “Al Hanisim” prayer stresses that this is a time when Hashem delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak and the many into the hands of the few. Let us use this precious opportunity to recognize that even what is cloaked in the guise of nature is indeed miraculous, and to reflect upon the numerous miracles which Hashem performs for us every second of every day, and to thank Him with hearts full of gratitude!

Chanuka Points to Ponder (and sources which discuss them):

1) On Chanuka we add a paragraph, known as “Al Hanissim,” to the Shemoneh Esrei prayers and to Birkas HaMazon in which we give thanks to Hashem for the miracles, for the redemption, for the acts of might, for the salvations, and for the wars which He performed for our ancestors at this time. Wouldn’t we have been better off without wars? Why are we giving thanks for them? (Leket Sichos Mussar, Noam Hamussar, Derech Sicha Biurei Ha’Tefilla, Shiurei Bina)
2) The song known as “Maoz Tzur” which is traditionally sung each day after lighting the menorah states ומנותר קנקנים נעשה נס לשושנים – with the remaining oil, a miracle occurred for the roses. Why are the Chashmonaim compared to flowers, and why specifically to roses?
3) The song known as “Maoz Tzur” which is traditionally sung each day after lighting the menorah states regarding Haman רוב בניו וקניניו על העץ תלית – the majority of his sons and possessions You hung on the tree. As the Pirkei D’Rav Eliezer states that Haman had 40 sons and only 10 of them were hung with him, in what way were the majority of his sons hanged? Also, in what way were his possessions hung on the tree? (Torah L’Daas Vol. 9)
4) Why is virtually no mention made of the festival of Chanuka and its pertinent laws anywhere in the Mishnah? (Chasam Sofer)
5) The Gemora in Shabbos (23b) states that a person who is careful regarding the mitzvah of lighting the candles of Shabbos and Chanuka will merit sons who are Torah scholars. Why won’t he be rewarded by becoming a sage himself? (Pri Chodosh)
6) How were the Greeks able to render the oil in the Beis HaMikdash impure when the Gemora in Pesochim (17a) states that many of the liquids, including the oil, which were used in the Beis HaMikdash (משקה בית מטבחיא) aren’t susceptible to becoming impure? (Shu”t Beis Yitzchok Orach Chaim 110, Imrei Daas Moadim, Chiddushei HaRim)

© 2006 by Oizer Alport. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute as long as credit is given. To receive weekly via email or to send comments or suggestions, write to

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Why Kankan?

by Reb Ben

I was always bothered why in מעוז צור we say the words ומנותר קנקנים if a flask of oil is usually referred to as a פך or a כד. Perhaps the answer can be found in the dreidel, of which it is said: “we find written, and he sent Yehuda before him... to Goshen (Breishis 46:28). The word גשנה- to Goshen (Gimmel, Shin, Nun, Hey), is made up of the same letters which we write on a dreidel. The numerical value of these letters is 358. This is the same numerical value as the word משיח, referring to Moshiach who will be a descendant of Yehuda.” Similarly, the word קנקנים equals 350, and by adding 8 for the eight days of Chanukah, we have 358. Apparently, the miracle of Chanukah has a connection to Moshiach, but we will save that for a different discussion.

How to Conquer the Yevanim

by Reb Ben

The Maharal in Ner Mitzvah writes that יון is in gematria 66 and היכל is gematria 65, so this reflects the idea that יון had “one over” the היכל and this explains why the Yevanim were able to breach the היכל. The Medrash in Tehillim statesיב (תהלים י"ח) בצר לי אקרא ה' בבבל ואל אלקי אשוע במדי ישמע מהיכלו קולי ביון דאמר רבי הונא לגרמיה יונתי במלכות יון שכל ימי יון היה ההיכל קיים והיו ישראל מקריבין תורים ובני יונה על גבי המזבח הוי ישמע מהיכלו קולי ושועתי לפניו תבא באזניו במלכות so we see that despite יון having a התגברות on the היכל, by being מתחזק in the avodah, the Jews were able to vanquish the יונים. Furthermore, in מעוז צור we say בני בינה ימי שמונה, and the word בינה is gematria 67, and this teaches us that when we have בינה and focuses on עבודת ה', we can defeat our enemies.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hod and the Worship of the External

by Reb Jay

The Zohar Hakadosh writes that the midda of Hod finds its expression in the eight days of Chanuka.

If Klal Yisrael is deficient in a midda, then we are not zocheh to feel that midda as strongly from Hashem (Sifsei Chaim Moadim 2). Before the Chashmonayim fought the Yavanim, there was a deficiency in the Hod of Klal Yisrael.

What is the midda of Hod and how does it connect to Chanuka?

Hod is a very difficult word to translate. Hod is the shoresh of the word l’hodos--to give praise, or thanks. It also relates to the word modeh--to admit. Hod can also mean empathy. How can one word have so many different meanings?

While there are disparate meanings of the word Hod, the underlying concept behind each of these meanings is the same:
The ability to discern the inner reality of the matter at hand.

There are many different ways of giving praise or thanks. What is the ideal way? When the person on the receiving end of a goodness endeavors to appreciate the intent of the nosein (giver), and what the giver has done for him. To see the p’neymiyus and not just give a perfunctory thanks.

Hod is represented by Ahron. Many mefarshim define Hod in relation to Ahron as empathy. What is empathy? Empathy is the ability to strongly identify with the feelings of another. The concept of nosei b’ol chaveiro--to share a friends load--can only be accomplished if a person is emphatic; if he uses the midda of Hod. Ahron is defined as a Rodeph Sholom. The Midrash relates that if Ahron saw people in a machlokes, or a husband and wife experiencing Sholom bayis difficulties, he would make Sholom between them. This is a manifestation of Hod, being able to see other people’s tsar (which can only truly be done through seeing their p’neymiyus) and to share in the feeling, to internalize it; not to give lip service to Sholom--completion, but to actively pursue it.

This trait of Hod was personified by Ahron, and his descendants were zocheh to this midda as well. Although many people in Klal Yisrael were horrified by the acts of the Yavanim and the misyavnim (the Jews who desired to be Greek), it was the kohanim who internalized the chillul Hashem that was taking place and acted upon it. They were thus zocheh to have this ness of Chanuka happen through them.

A Jew is referred to as a Yehudi--one who gives thanks. Our purpose in the world is to have a shaychus with the Ribono Shel Olam (as Dovid HaMelech writes inTehilim: Kirvas Elokim li l’tov--closeness to Hashem is good). That relationship can only be achieved if we appreciate that which Hashem has done and does for us. The Rambam writes (Hilchos Yesodie HaTorah 2:2) that a person should contemplate Hashem and his creations, and he will come to have awe of Hashem, love of Hashem and a desire to know Hashem (and of course, to praise Him). Thus a person must always contemplate the goodness that Hashem does for us, and this contemplation will lead to the ability to see the penemiyus of the beriya, i.e, that not only was the world created, but that it was done for us. That the Ribono Shel Olam is constantly performing chesed with us.

When we integrate these ideas into our being, and see the penemiyus of the beriya, than we are able to l’hodos--to truly give thanks and praise to Hashem.

The Yavanim were the complete opposite of penemiyus. The Yavanim judged reality on a purely superficial and external basis. This idea reveals that the Yavanim were a society based on externals--chitzoniyus. The idea is symbolized by choshech. The second possuk of the Torah states: V’ha’aretz hays sohu vavohu v’choshech al pnei thom. The Midrash tells us that this possuk refers to the four exiles we will endure (Bavel, Parus Umadi, Yavan and Edom). Yavan is symbolized by choshech, because when man is judged on an external level, the world is indeed dark.

Although the Yavanim offered Klal Yisrael the opportunity to be citizens of Greece (a much sought after honor in those times), and although many Jews were nichshol and accepted their overtures, the core group, the Chashmonayim that this gift was in fact a curse of darkness.

When Klal Yisrael fought the Yavanim they showed by their actions that they rejected these ideals of externality.

And on Chanuka when we light the Menora, we literally and symbolically illuminate the darkness of the Yavanim, and their worship of the exterior.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Love of Hashem and More

by Reb Shmuli

"U'minosar Kankanim Na'aseh Neis La'Shoshanim B'Nei Vina Yemei Shmona Kovoo Shir U'rannanim"
To explain this verse the Kedishas Tzion explains we are to look at the famous kasha and answer from the Beis Yosef.
The Beis Yosef asks why is Chanukah eight days, they had enough for the first day so the miracle was actually for seven days. The Beis Yosef answers that they divided the oil in the Pach into 8 chalokim for each night. Each chelek burnt till the morning so there was a miracle on the first night as well
The Pri Chodosh asks, the gemora explains the possuk "Me'erev ad boker" that the precise measure should be given to burn till the morning, so how were the Chasmonoim allowed to initially divide the oil into 8 chelokim. Also seeing that there is klal "ein somchim al haneis" they should have used all the oil on the first so at least one night would be done correctly.

However, there is a kasha, why was there a need for such a miracle, we pasken "timah hitra b'tzibber"? Any oil could have been used.
The Chacam Tzvi and the Pnei Yehoshia answer that even though the hadlokas neiros is docha the timah, the Ribbono Shel Oilam wanted to show his love for us and that we should light in tahara/purity. So the Beis Yosef's answer is understandable. Once the Chasmonoim saw the pach was provided al derech neis, they understood that Hashem wanted to show His love for us, that even though mi'tzad hadin unpure oil could have been used Hashem wanted us to light only oil that was tahor.
Then when they realized it would take 8 days to get more tahor oil, they understood that Hashem would of course provide a neis for the full 8 days, as Hashem does not provide miracles for nothing. Therefore even 1/8th of the oil would burn the whole night so that the mitzvah could be done completely btahara.
And you can't question "ein somchim al haneis" because now that they saw the neis that Hashem proided the Pach and is showing His love for Klal Yisroel and it needs to last for 8 days. The "eighth" (each chelek" was actuallty a full and proper midda.

so this explains the original verse

U'minosar Kankanim - that from the remining pach of oil that had the chosomo of the cohen gadol, from there we see that "Na'aseh Neis La'Shoshanim" a miracle was provided to Klal Yisroel which is called Shoshana which is loshon of chiba, through which the Chashmonoim saw the love of Hashem that he wanted them to light b'tahara, they then understood "dovor mitoch dovor" that Hashem will continue with the neis for the eight days so they can continue to light b'tahara, so they immediately split the oil into eight portions.
B'Nei Vina - refers to the chashmonoim who understood "dovor mitoch dovor" and established Yemei Shmona Kovoo Shir U'rannanim eight days of song and praise.
In "Mizmor Shir Chanukas Habayis L'Dovid" it says "Hafachti Mispedi L'Mochol Li"
The Kedishas Tzion explains as follows.
The Midrash in Bereishis Rabba says "Praiseworthy are Tzaddikim that "turn" Middos Hadin into Middas Harachamim". The Meforshim explain that when Chas Vesholom a bad gezeirah is declared on Klal Yisroel, it is announced which letters are bringing the Gezeirah. Tzaddikim with their tefilos are are able to turn them around from bad to good. For example, "tzora to Rotza or Tzohar", "nega to Oneg" or "Dova to Hod"

The same can be said here if Chas V'shalom the gezeira of "Mispeid" is decreed - with the concept of "At-Bash" the letters of "mispeid" become yud,ches,vov, kuv which has a Gematria of 124, the same gematria of "Mochol Li"

So that is pshat, when you are mehapach the word Mispeid with "At-Bash" it is to Mochol Li and changing from Middas Hadin to Middas harachamim

The Roshei Tevos of Mizmor Shir Chanukas Habayis is Simcha - wishing all a Simchadiga Chanukah!!!!!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Location of the Menorah in Shul

Yeshivas Ohr Yerushalayim

Chanuka 5766- Rabbi Shaya Greenwald

The Tur and Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 671) records that there is a Minhag to light the Chanuka Menora in shul. They write that one should place the Menora on the southern wall of the Shul, similar to its location in the Beis HaMikdash. The Beis HaMikdash consisted of a courtyard, the Azara, which contained the large Mizbeach, on which most of the Korbanos were brought. The entrance to the Beis HaMikdash was in the East, and as one entered and walked toward the Heichal, one would be traveling westward. On the opposite side, there was a chamber, called the Heichal, which contained the Mizbeach Hazahav, the Menora and the Shulchan. The Mizbeach Hazahav was used primarily for the daily Ketores, and was significantly smaller than the outer Mizbeach. The Mizbeach Hazahav, the Menora and the Shulchan were located halfway through the Heichal, with the Menora on the south and the Shulchan on the north. (The Mizbeach was located slightly closer to the entrance of the Heichal, so that the Menora would be ‘opposite the Shulchan’ with no interference.) A Kohain entering the Heichal, who would be facing westward toward the Kodesh Hakadashim, would have the Menora on his left side and the Shulchan on his right.

Rav Moshe Isserles wrote a commentary on the Tur and Beis Yosef, called the Darcei Moshe. The Darcei Moshe comments that the Halacha indeed is in accordance with the view of the Tur (and Shulchan Aruch) that the Menora is placed on the southern wall, unlike the custom in “Brin” to place the Menora on the north wall, to the left of the Chazan. This custom, which the Rama rejects, is based on an understanding that the Menora must be to the left of the opening to the Kodesh Hakadashim, which incidentally is south, while the prevalent Minhag assumes that the Menora must be in the south, which incidentally is to the left of the opening to the Kodesh HaKodoshim. There are many sources indicating that the Aron Hakodesh in the shul represents the Kodesh HaKodoshim, therefore the Shuls in “Brin,” which evidently faced east, had their Menoras placed to the left of the Aron Hakodesh.
There seems to be an unrelated Gemara in Maseches Menachos 98b. As an introduction we should note that the length of the Heichal was forty Amos, while the length of the Kodesh Hakadashim was twenty. (Incidentally, the width of the Heichal was twenty and the opening was ten wide and twenty high, with a wall of five Amos on each side of the opening. Accordingly, the Kodesh Hakadashim was a square.) The Gemara quotes two Braisas concerning the location of the Mizbeach Hazahav, the Menora and the Shulchan. The first Braisa states that the aforementioned vessels stood at the midpoint of the ‘house.’ The second Braisa records that they were located at one third of the length of the ‘house.’ The Gemara reconciles the two statements by explaining that the first Braisa was speaking of the Heichal exclusively, while the second one includes the Kodesh Hakadashim along with the Heichal. There is no dispute as to their location, for they stood at a point twenty Amos into the Heichal. The first Braisa records this as twenty out of forty, which is half, while the second Braisa views this as twenty Amos from a total of sixty.

At first glance, this seems to be a mere dispute over nomenclature. The argument is one of semantics; should we count the Kodesh Hakadashim as part of the Heichal building or not. However, I once heard an innovative explanation from Harav Dovid Cohen Shlit”a (Rav of Cong. Gvul Yaavetz). He suggested that perhaps the Braisas are arguing over a fundamental issue. It is possible that the first Braisa maintains that the location of the vessels in the Heichal was an absolute, irrespective of their proximity to the Kodesh Hakadashim. Therefore, their placement at twenty Amos into the Heichal is viewed as halfway in, because we are concerned with the Heichal alone, independently. However, the second Braisa understands that the location of the vessels is not to be viewed in a vacuum, but rather in relationship to the Kodesh Hakadashim. Accordingly, this Braisa must view the Heichal and Kodesh Hakadashim as one unit with regard to measuring the location of the Menora. Therefore, that same point of twenty Amos is referred to as one third of the way in, because the entire length of the Heichal and Kodesh Hakadashim together is sixty Amos, not merely forty. In effect, the two Braisas are arguing about whether the Menora should be in the south, as the first Braisa would indicate, with no significance given to the fact that it is to the left of the Kodesh Hakadashim. While the second Braisa would hold like the Minhag of ‘Brin’ that the Rama rejects, that the significant factor is that the Menora must be to the left of the Kodesh Hakadashim, while its being in the south is immaterial.

Secret of Oil

(Taken from a weekly publication of Hammaayan Institutes.
Translated by Rabbi Shabtai Teicher)

Before his death Moshe blessed the tribe of Levi: "May G-d bless his force and accept the work of his hands, crush the flanks of his resistance and his enemies shall never rise again" (Dueteronomy 33:11). The Hasmoneans were descendants of Levi; and Chazal said that Moshe saw that in the future they would wage war against a powerful enemy. He prayed for them because he saw that they were few against many. Their fighting force was only twelve together with Elazar who was worth myriads.

The Talmud (Shabbat) asks what was the miracle over which the celebration of Channukkah was fixed? The answer to this question is not the amazing miracle of thirteen people who defeated an entire empire. Rather, the Talmud says that Channukkah celebrates the miracle of the oil which burned for eight days. Certainly, this needs explanation. What is the secret of the oil that it outweighs all the other mighty and awesome miracles which took place at that time?

The secret of the oil is that it indicates the power of quality. At the time, the mighty Greek empire was sowing the seeds of confusion among the Jews. Through iniquitous agents it introduced a foreign culture glorifying the physical body and espousing heresy. Many people were drawn into that culture of worshiping material substance and natural forces.

However, a small group of people held fast to their spiritual purity and refused to abandon the ways of holiness whatsoever. It was with this power of purity that they went to wage war where the natural arrangement of forces offered them no opportunity for victory. Their victory in itself was a refutation to fundamental beliefs of the Greeks which exalted the forces of nature and denied the efficacy of supernatural, spiritual intervention.

Throughout the generations we are able to see how the few who hold fast to their spiritual purity succeed against the waves of heresy. When the masses are drawn into the flood of spiritual destruction, there are those few who rise above it all, and who eventually exert a tremendous force to pull the entire nation after them, and return the crown to its place.

It was individuals such as Rebbe Yochanan ben Zakai who at the time of the destruction of the Temple asked for Yavne and her sages. In this way a period of renewal of the Torah began, which has been going on until this generation when those like the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav raised the Torah from the ashes of the European Holocaust. Now, it is flowering and the benches of the study halls are once again full.

The power of purity to overcome is the secret of the pure olive oil which is not allowed to have the slightest impurity or foreign element. Only then can it give its light in the Holy Temple.

It is this power of purity to which the Rambam refers when he wrote about the words of Rabbi Chananya ben Akashya: "G-d wanted to make merit for Israel. Therefore, He increased the amount of Torah and mitzvot." The Rambam wrote, "When a person does one of the 613 mitzvot properly, without the admixture of any worldly goal or contamination whatsoever, then he merits to the life of the world-to-come. Since there are many mitzvot, it is impossible that in his lifetime a person will not do one the way it is supposed to be done and completely; and when he does that mitzvah, then he lives because of the deed."

In other words, it is for the sake of the one, solitary mitzvah that a person will do perfectly and with complete quality that there are such a large number and variety of mitzvot. The reason is not quantitative but qualitative.

Connection to Hashem through the Menorah

Erev Chanukah

Rabbi Label Lam
Our Power is Found

A candle is a Mitzvah and Torah is light.(Mishlei 6:23)

These candles we light for the miracles and for the wonders and for the salvations and for the wars that You did for our fathers in those days at this time through Your holy Kohanim. And all eight days these candles are holy and we have no permission to make use of them but rather only to view them in order to acknowledge and praise Your Great Name on Your miracles and on Your wonders and on Your salvations. (Recitation after lighting the Chanukah Menorah)

Why are we so careful not to make use of the Chanukah Menorah? What praise and acknowledgment is there beyond simple symbolism? What breathes the fire of "holiness" into that tiny act of lighting a Chanukah candle? Anybody can do that!

The answers may lie at least partially in gaining an appreciation of one word. When we step up to the task of lighting the Menorah and other Mitzvahs, a grand declaration is made: "You are the source of blessing HASHEM, our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His Mitzvahs and commanded us to light the candle of Chanukah!" We say that we are sanctified by the performance of doing a Mitzvah! What dynamic is at play here?

Let's say I was to approach the Governor's mansion at 3:00 o'clock AM and begin to knock on the door and demand a meeting with the Governor. Somebody would likely shout out, "Who goes there?" I might sheepishly answer, "Label Lam!" "Go away you fool!" they would appropriately respond and I would be made to leave. However if I was carrying a message from the President I would bang on the door more emphatically and when asked what the racket was all about I would forget at that moment about myself and I would answer with a sense overpowering urgency, "It's a message from the President!" The door would open wide!

There's a Talmudic concept, "The messenger is like the one who sends him." An act is greatly enlarged due to the "power of attorney" granted by the sender. Even a simple task like lighting a Chanukah Menorah is enhanced not so much by the originality or genius of the performer but by the connection to The One Who commands him. The deed is not less than an extension of the will of HASHEM, our G-d, King of the Universe. That is what shines forth in the context of a Mitzvah!

From a slightly mystical vantage point the Nefesh HaChaim explains: "You should know my brother that at the time it enters the mind of a person to do a Mitzvah, immediately an impression is made above in his highest source building and planting many worlds and yielding supernal powers. From there is drawn to the person a force-field of light and a high and holy light hovers over him and surrounds him.

Through the holiness and the surrounding light he becomes attached, so to speak, with Him and His life force. It is this force of light that helps him to complete the Mitzvah. Through the completion of the task he becomes even more empowered. When he takes it to heart at the time of the performance of a Mitzvah and he understands and feels in his soul that he is surrounded and clothed at that moment in holiness and a spirit of correctness is renewed within him."

Greek culture sought to tailor Judaism to fit only that which made practical sense to them cutting away the essence. In defiance, for thousands of years, we light a candle with no utility other than its function as a Mitzvah, and flickering within that delicate Mitzvah -flame our power is found.


Text Copyright © 2003 Rabbi Label Lam and

Thursday, December 07, 2006

More Gematriyos

by Reb Ben

Chanukah always occurs between the parshiyos of Vayeishev and Mikeitz. The gematria of וישב is 318 and the gematria of מקץ is 230. The difference between the two is 88, and חנוכה is in gematria 89, so with the כולל, they are the same in gematria.

Blessings and Direction

What blessings are uttered on the lighting of the Chanukka candles?

The first night of Chanukkah requires three blessings: LeHadlik Ner shel Channukah. 2. SheAsah Nissim. 3. Shehechiyanu. Throughout the rest of Chanukkah, only the first two blessings are recited.

If on the first night, one forgot to bless the third blessing of Shehechiyanu, then the night upon which he remembers, he should recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu.
The Chazzan who recites the blessings in the synagogue, blesses all three blessings. Upon arriving home, he should recite all the blessings again as he is including his family members along with himself. If he lives alone, then he should not bless the third blessing of Shechiyanu, as it not a new occurrence for him. Some authorities are of the opinion that is above said situation, he should not recite the second blessing either.

Which candle is lit first?

The direction of lighting should be from left to right, so on the first night, the candle on the furthermost right would be lit, while on the second night the additional candle (which was placed to the left of the original candle) is lit first, and then continuing onwards to the right, and so on every night and additional candle.