Sunday, December 02, 2018

a few hilchos chanukah ideas

Just in time for Chanukah I saw uploaded Moadei haGR"Ch, a collection of piksei halacha from R' Chaim Kanievski (BTW, I first thought this would be torah of R' Chaim Brisker when I saw the title.  I guess stama GR"Ch is no longer R' Chaim Brisker?)  These are just some quick notes I jotted down (the # refer to the questions in the sefer):

#586 - The Pri Megadim (siman 570) holds that an onein is chayav to light ner Chanukah.  Why should new Chanukah be different than other mitzvos?

R' Chaim answers that ner Chanukah is a chiyuv on the bayis -- ner ish u'beiso -- not on the individual. 

This answer is a little strange because later in #591 R' Chaim is quoted as holding that the chiyuv hadlaka is on the gevara.  (Nafka minah: what if you don't own a house?  If hadlakah is a chovas ha'bayis, then you should be patur.  If it is a chovas ha'gavra and the house is simply where Chazal mandated that a person fulfill the chiyuv, then a person should have to buy a house to be mekayein hadlakah.  If he can't, then that's a situation of ones, not a ptur.  This is a diyun in Achronim, with R' Chaim and R' Elyashiv taking opposing views if I recall correctly [I forget who holds which way.])

This idea of ner Chanukah being a chovas ha'gavra is based on the Rambam in ch 11 of hil brachos:
יש מצות עשה שאדם חייב להשתדל ולרדוף עד שיעשה אותה כגון תפילין וסוכה ולולב ושופר ואלו הן הנקראין חובה. לפי שאדם חייב על כל פנים לעשות. ויש מצוה שאינה חובה אלא דומין לרשות כגון מזוזה ומעקה שאין אדם חייב לשכון בבית החייב מזוזה כדי שיעשה מזוזה אלא אם רצה לשכון כל ימיו באהל או בספינה ישב

The Ramban distinguishes between mitzvos you have to do not matter what, e.g. putting on tefillin, which he calls chovah, and mitzvos that are conditional, like mezuzah, which you would only have to do if you own a house.

Rambam then continues:
וכן כל המצות שהן מדברי סופרים בין מצוה שהיא חובה מדבריהם כגון מקרא מגילה והדלקת נר בשבת והדלקת נר חנוכה
 and categorizes ner Chanukah, among other examples, as a chovah.  It's not conditional on owning a house -- aderaba, you should buy a house to fulfill the mitzvah. 

R' Berel Schwartzman, R"Y of Beis haTalmud, uses these two aspects of the mitzvah to explain the opinion of Meiri, who writes that a woman cannot be motzi a man in ner Chanukah.  Why not?  Both men and women share the same chiyuv derabbanan of hadlakah.  This is not like megillah where a woman's chiyuv may only be shemiya and not keri'ah (see Rashi Archin 3b) or where her chiyuv based on af hein ha'yu b'oso ha'nes is only derabbanan as opposed to a man's chiyuv which is divrei kabbalah.

Based on the idea of there being 2 dinim in hadlakah: 1) the chovas ha'gavra of hadlakah, modeled on the avodah of hadlakah done in the mikdash (see Ramban in P' Be'ha'aloscha); 2) a chovas ha'bayis to lit in commemoration of the nes of Chanukah. R' Schwartzman explained that women only have the latter chiyuv, not the former, as they have no role in avodas hamikdash.  Men have both chiyuvim.  Therefore, a woman cannot be motzi a man.

Another more lomdish suggestion R' Chaim offered to explain why an onein is chayav is based on af hein ha'yu b'oso ha'nes.  I assume what he means is that just like women should be exempt from the mitzvah because it is zman gerama, but are nonetheless chayavos because of af hein, so too, an onein who should be exempt is also nonetheless chayav because of af hein.

I don't understand the comparison.  Women are exempt from mitzvos that are zman gerama.  An onein is not just patur -- he is not allowed to do mitzvos during aninus.

#590 - A nice chakirah: is there a din of oseik b'mitzvah patur min ha'mitzvah when lighting candles 2 or 3, 4, 5 etc. since the ikar chiyuv is fulfilled with the first candle and all the others are just hidur?

This sounds like a spin off of R' Akiva Eiger's safeik whether one is allowed to make the bracha of l'hadlik ner Chanukah if you forgot to make it before lighting the first candle.  Are the additional candles part of the kiyum hadlakah, in which case you can still recite the bracha of l'hadlik, or are they a separate kiyum of hidur?

Yet, in truth, the cases are not really comparable.  R' Akiva Eiger's issue hinges on whether the nusach ha'bracha that refers specifically to the mitzvah of hadlakah can be said over the additional candles lit l'shem hidur.  Oseik b'mitzvah simply requires that one be engaged in mitzvah performance -- what difference should it make whether that mitzvah is categorized as hadlakah or hidur?

Maybe that's why R' Chaim answered that one is considered oseik b'mitzvah.

(Parenthetically, I never understand how people construct whole torahs based on R' Chaim's mostly one word answers -- kein, ko, efsher, ulay, etc. How do you know what he was thinking based on that?)

#593 - Interesting question: if you lit two candles on the first night, are you yotzei?

#608 - Sefas Emes (Shabbos 21) holds that there is no din of mitzvah bo yoseir mi'b'shlucho by ner Chanukah since it is a chovas ha'bayis rather than a chiyuv on the individual.  R' Chaim disagrees (based on MG"A siman 677).

There are two ways I think you can take issue with the Sefas Emes: 1) You could argue that hadlakah is in fact a chovas ha'gavra, as R' Chaim holds in #591, as we discussed earlier; 2) You could argue that even if the chiyuv rests on the bayis, there is still a preference to be the one performing the ma'aseh mitzvah to fulfill that chiyuv. 

A follow up on this same idea is found in #624.  R' Chaim holds it is better to light oneself at plag rather than light via a shliach at the zman.

#615 - R' Chaim holds that it is better to light in a window than in a doorway if there is more pirsumei nisa that way.

I would have thought that since Chazal were metakein to light in the doorway, so long as there is some degree of pirsum that way, what right do you have to deviate from the takanah?  For example, there may be more pirsum if I light a 20 foot high  menorah in a park, but doing that is not the mitzvah.

#628 - I have to mention this one since 2 years ago I wrote about the din of kitusei michtas shiurah by ner Chanukah.  Everyone has trouble explaining the opinion that holds there is a din of kitusei michtas and you would not be yotzei lighting with issurei ha'na'ah.  R' Chaim explains simply that that if you hold kitusei michtas it would be like lighting with air and not oil. 

This hinges on the question Achronim discuss (the Steipler has a piece on this too) as to whether kitusei michtas is a din in quantity, i.e. there is something there, but it lacks shiur, or whether it is a din in quality, i.e. it is as if the stuff is not there. 

This leads us to #635, the question of whether there is a requirement of "lachem" by ner Chanukah.  R' Chaim holds there is not.  What is the hava amina to say otherwise?  The din is that an achsina'i, a guest, participates in the hadlakah with his host by contributing a perutah, a token amount.  The pashtus is that this is needed to create a kinyan in some portion of the oil -- i.e. you need to own the oil that is being lit.

R' Yitzchak Elchanan (Shu"T Beit Yitzchak Y.D. 145 at the end) points out that if there is a requirement of lachem, then the question of kitusei michtas shiurah should be moot.  Issurei Hana'ah have no value (din mammon), and therefore cannot be owned.  

There is much more to see in the sefer and much more to say...  maybe more to come.  But don't wait for me -- that a look!


  1. #586 "If it [hadlakah] is a chovas ha'gavra...then a person should have to buy a house to be mekayein";
    "the chovas ha'gavra of hadlakah [is] modeled on the avodah of hadlakah done in the mikdash"

    do the kohanim as a class have to build (= buy) a Mikdash? do the classes of men, and of women, etc., each have a variously weighted chiyuv to see a Temple built, depending on the mitzvos (definitely or potentially) required of them there?

    #590 "R' Akiva Eiger's issue"

    are ikar and hidur always so separable? would one think that a bracha over a beautiful esrog might go only on the plain (or ikar) entity? or that a bracha on deluxe tefillin really only applies to its minimal assembly? {could the interpretation one gives to Bereishis 9:27, v'yeeshkone, have bearing here? if it is Hashem Who will dwell in the tents of Shem, then Yafes (= beauty) may remain elsewhere; if it is Yafes who so dwells, then surely he has our blessing*?} *R' Shimon ben Gamliel's, for one, on megillah 9b

  2. #586 - The Pri Megadim (siman 570) holds that an onein is chayav to light ner Chanukah. Why should new Chanukah be different than other mitzvos?

    If I remember correctly some Achronim give the reason as being similar to the Halacha of a Chotzer with two entrances. You have to light by both so no one will think you didn't light. An Onen lights for the same reason.

    1. Yes, you are correct -- this is another answer given.