Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hilchos Chanukah: Mehadrin min Hamehadrin

The lighting of Chanuka candles have a requirement of “Mehadrin min HaMehadrein”(a unique glorification). How is this requirement to be fulfilled?

The Shulchan Aruch rules that every day an additional candle should be lit by the head of the family (hereby showing that the miracle was for an additional night), while the rest of the family should continue lighting each night only one candle. The reasoning is that if each family member would add candles each night, spectators will conclude that there are numerous family members, as opposed to the additional candles being lit for the miracle.
The Rama rules like the Rambam that every family member should a candle for each additional night, but the female members do not light at all.

Is the “Mehadrin” requirement fulfilled if accidentally more candles than necessary for that day were lit?
Some authorities require that all the candles be extinguished, and to relight them, but most authorities agree that it is enough just to extinguish the additional candle.

Hilchos Chanukah 670:2

Rama Chapter 770
The Laws of Chanukkah

Para. 2
“Some authorities rule that cheese should be eaten on Chanuka as a remembrance of the miracle tha was brought about through Yehudit feeding cheese to the enemy.

What blessing is applicable for cheese cake?
A. If the dough was baked without the cheese, and afterwards, a thick layer of cheese was added, those of Ashkenazik origin should bless Mezonot on the dough and Shehakol on the cheese. There is an argument in reference to those of Sefaridic origin if they should act according to the Ashkenazic ruling, or should utter the blessing on the primary essence of the cheese cake, whereby exempting the secondary part.
B. When the two main ingredients were baked together, everyone is in accordance that the blessing should be uttered on what is considered the essence of the cake.

“It is a custom to eat food cooked/fried in oil as a remembrance to the miracle of oil.”
What is the correct blessing for potato “latkes”?
If the potatoes were mashed by hand, even if they were mashed completely, then the blessing is HoAdamah, while if they were made from potato flour, the blessing should be Shehakol, as the potatoes are not discernable.

Hilchos Chanukah 670:1

Shulchan Aruch Chapter 770
The Laws of Chanukkah

Para. 1

“and ladies are accustomed not to partake in labor as long as the candles are lit, and some authorities rule that there is no room for leniency.”

Is this law applicable only to ladies?
The wording above tends towards applying this ruling only to women as the miracle was brought about through them[3], yet the Maharil mentions a custom that men also did not engage in labor during the prescribed time.

Till when is labor forbidden?
The Tur rules that the prohibition is as long as the candles are burning, but adds that if there are places where women have become accustomed not to do labor all day of Chanukah, there is no room for leniency, yet other authorities disagree and rule that such a custom must be protested as idleness leads to boredom and is sinful.

[1] יהודית בתו של יוחנן כה"ג האכילה גבינה את ראש הצוררים לשכרותו וחתכה ראשו וברחו כולם. (מ"ב ס"ק י')

[2] המג"א הביא שכוונת השו"ע לאסור לנשים לעשות מלאכה כל זמן שנרות בהכנ"ס דולקים דהיינו עד חצות הלילה והמ"ב פוסק שהכוונה לזמן שהנרות דולקות בביתו דהינו חצי שעה וכן המנהג

[3] Yehudit, the daughter of the Kohen Gadol fed the Syrian general cheese till he was drowsy, enabling her to behead him, upon which the enemy army fled.