Wednesday, June 15, 2011

shalheves oleh m'eileha

Chazal interpret the word, "B'ha'alosecha," as a hint that the menorah should be lit so that "shalheves oleh m'eileha," the flame should rise of its own accord from the wick. We usually think of this halacha as chiyuvi, as a requirement for us to do something. The same wicks the Mishna tells us that we cannot use on Shabbos because the flame sputters also cannot be used to light the menorah in the Mikdash (Shabbos 22) because we would not be producing a flame that can remain lit of its own accord. Yet, there is actually a shlili element to this din, a negation of a premis. The gemara (Yom 24) tells us that even a zar is permitted to light the menorah; a kohen is not required. Why? Tosfos Yeshanim explains because the flame is a "shalheves oleh m'eileha," and is therefore not considered the product of the person who does the lighting. The Kozhiglover (Eretz Tzvi, P' Be'ha'aloshecha) explains that even though halacha usually does not usually seperate cause and effect in this way, e.g. the halacha is that "isho m'shum chitzav," an arsonist is considered to have done an act of mazik even though it was the fire which caused the damage, here the special gezeiras hakasuv of "Be'he'alosecha" negates the usual rule and the flame as treated as an entity in its own right, disconnected from the zar who lit it. (The Kozhiglover was the last R"Y of Yeshivas Chachamei Lublin before WWII and was a genius in lomdus as well as wellspring of machshava in the style of his Rebbe, the Sochatchover. This hesber is a bit different than that of R' Chaim Brisker, which we once discussed before.)

My daughter complained shortly after her graduation last night that I posted about my son's siyum but not her finishing 8th grade, so this post is for her. "Be'ha'alosecha" is more than the story of "raising" candles -- it's the story of raising children. We have a chiyuv to raise our kids to become like a "shalheves oleh m'eileha" -- a flame that does not need a shamash or match held next to it to keep it from burning out, but rather one which burns brightly on its own. That's a big challenge and a long process, but congrats to daughter #2 for passing one more hurdle on the road to independence.


  1. great unknown8:38 PM

    A critical component is that no crushing should be involved, only gentle pressure. And of course that like the olives, they be exposed to maximal sunlight and warmth.

  2. Anonymous12:43 AM

    "...not considered the product of
    the person who does the lighting"--
    how similar is the action here, igniting the wick until it helps itself, to the zar lighting merely a pilot? when next a non-Jew turns on that oven, it flames/heats "of its own accord" (for the bread IS pas Yisrael)...

    maybe Hashem would have had Aharon
    (the Kohen Gadol) be the directly responsible lighter, but that he said
    "va'ashlicheihu va'aish va'yeitzei haeigel hazeh", Shemos 32:24 (or
    'look mom, no hands!', in the vernacular)...

  3. Perhaps it's because there's two degrees of separation between the person and the final result.
    The person lights the flame, the flame gives off the light and it's the light that's the desired end result.
    But I've never understand how a zar could light the menorah. Considering that the menorah is in the mishkan/heichal which is beyond the line that zarim are allowed to be, how can he get near the menorah to light it?

  4. unlike chanuka where hadlaka oseh mitzva, you can light the menora outside of the heichal. Also, it can be lit with a long stick. Or you can use a Shain machine. Of course, you need a ma'aseh hadlaka, and I don't know if a Shain machine qualifies.

    Congratulations, Chaim, on shepherding your children on their path to independence.