Wednesday, November 27, 2013

hesber of the machlokes whether kavsa zakuk lah

I told this to my son l'chidudei: the famous Nimukei Yosef in B”K 2nd perek asks how are we allowed to light Shabbos candles if isho m’shum chitzo.  Just like when an arrow hits its target and destroys someone’s property it is as if the shooter went over and smashed that property, so too, when fire burns on Shabbos, it is as if the person who lit the fire is mechalel Shabbos.

The Nimukei Yosef answers that the shooter is chayav from the moment he released the arrow and set it in flight.  It is as if the entire process which will unfold – the arrow’s flight, it’s striking its target, etc. – is all compressed into that instant.  So too when a fire is lit, it’s as if the entire process of burning which will ensue takes place at that initial instant of lighting.  Therefore, the person is not considered a mechalel Shabbos since the candles were lit before Shabbos started.

Based on this Nimukei Yosef we have a hesber for the machlokes by ner chanukah of whether kavsa zakuk lah or not.  The view that holds kavsa ain zakuk lah holds like the maskanah of the Nimukei Yosef – since it is as if everything happened at the moment of lighting, even if the candle goes out afterwards, it doesn’t matter.  The view that holds zakuk lah, that you have to relight if the candle goes out, holds like the hava amina, that every second of burning is like a new act, and therefore, you need the process to finish unfolding in order to be yotzei.
The challenge is to shoot the hesber down (he likes knocking down anything I say anyway : )


  1. I kind of hear, but really I think all that follows from Nimukei Yosef is that if your candle burns for 3 minutes after you light, then it's as if your original act of lighting included that 3 minutes of burning. His approach wouldn't manufacture an extra 20 minutes (or whatever) of flame ex nihilo if it never happens.

    For example, if you light a fire that is designed & expected to burn down someone's field, but the wind puts it out and no damage (or less damage) actually occurs, even Nimukei Yosef would never say that you are liable for anything beyond actual damage that occurred.

  2. Good chiluk, but I'm not sure it works. You can't compress time. When you say, "It's as if your original act of lighting included that 3 minutes of burning," I assume the pshat is that since there is fuel and flame and all the other ingredients, you are chayav right away. It's not igla'i milsa l'mafre'a after goods are destroyed by the fire that you are chayav, but rather you are chayav up front. The destruction that takes place is not the mechayeiv -- it's just a tnai in defining what happens as being a hezek.
    So when you have a candle that has enough oil, and a flame, the fact that the wind comes later and blows it out is irrelevant -- all that we need to look at is whether at the moment of hadlakah there existed b'koach the ability to burn for the necessary zman. The fact that it didn't is ones, just like the contiuation of the shabbos candles burning on shabbos is just ones and is not your act.

    1. N"Y doesn't need to compress time; he just connects later results to earlier action, and says that for purposes of chilul shabbos what matters is what time the action was done, not when the results eventually occur. (There are interesting questions about this from baking and other time-delayed melachos, which others have discussed.)

      In any event, however you interpret the N"Y -- even if not as I have written -- why does it follow that kavsa ein zakuk lah -- what is the logical connection? The N"Y never says that a potential/b'koach to burn is sufficient when for whatever reason the actual burning never takes place (or doesn't burn long enough). For example, as I noted, N"Y of course agrees that you aren't chayav if a fire you light never destroys anything in the end, even if b'koach it looked like it would. So why do you assume N"Y would necessarily hold that lighting a ner chanukah with enough fuel b'koach to burn for the whole zman would necessarily fulfill the mitzva even if it goes out early and never actually burns that long?

      I think to explain ein zakuk lah, it is easier to say that the mitzva of ner chanuka by definition is to light a candle with certain minimum potential. What happens after that is irrelevant because the minimum fulfillment of the mitzva is already satisfied. This sevara works (or not) regardless of whether one adopts the sevara of N"Y or not.

    2. The only reason in the case of nezek you require the fire to burn something is to define it as a ma'aseh hezek -- it's a tnai. You don't need to meet that condition present when it comes to ner chanukah (or ner shabbos).

      Your hesber for kavsa is the classic one I think, but it requires making the assumption that a partial kiyum = a full kiyum. Yesh lachkor whether that is the pshat, or whether the pshat is that even though kavsa, you have the full kiyum anyway. That's what I am trying to get to by using the N.Y.

      Maybe I will do a follow up post on a nafka minah. almost time to actually light instead of debating lomdus about lighting ; )

  3. So why was כבתה זקוק לה in the בית המקדש, because we don't say like the נמוקי יוסף?

  4. No matter what hesber you give for kavsa ain zakuk lah you have to explain why the mikdash is difference. There the mitzvah is in the chefzta of the menorah to be light, not the ma'aseh hadlakah, as explained in GR"Ch al haRambam.