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נר איש וביתו

ת״ר מצות חנוכה נר איש וביתו והמהדרין נר לכל אחד ואחד והמהדרין מן המהדרין ב״ש אומרים יום ראשון מדליק שמונה מכאן ואילך פוחת והולך ב״ה אומרים יום ראשון מדליק אחת מכאן ואילך מוסיף והולך

The Rabbis taught [in a Braisa] - [the minimum requirement for] the Mitzva of Chanukah is one lamp per household (lit: a lamp for a man and his house); and those who wish to beautify - a lamp for each person; and those that want to perform it in the most beautiful way - the School of Shamai say: on the first night light eight and on each subsequent night decrease (by one), and the School of Hillel say: on the first night light one, and on each subsequent night add one.

It's interesting to note, the phrase "ner ish u-veiso" seems to imply that the mitzva is incumbent on the "household" rather than the individual. Indeed, the custom is for families to light together, and then to sing ma'oz tzur together, and then to study or play dreidel together. Also noteworthy - the normative way to perform the mitzva is in "the most beautiful way possible".

The Gemara then goes on to tell us that there is a further dispute between two Amora'im about the rationale behind the dispute between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai:

One states that the rationale of the School of Shammai focuses on the days, which are yet to be celebrated, while the School of Hillel focuses on the days, which have already been celebrated.

The other states that the School of Shammai [draws a] parallel to the bulls offered on the holiday of Sukkot [which are reduced in number each day], while the School of Hillel's rationale follows the maxim: "One should always ascend with regard to holy matters and not descend."

One thing that strikes you if you have studied Talmud is the give-and-take, and the seemingly undue attention that is paid to the reasoning behind opinions that we do not follow. But, as one teacher I had once pointed out, the points being argued are often very narrow distinctions, and we can often learn a lot even from reasoning and opinions which are not followed.

Why does Beis Shamai feel that we should learn the laws of Chanukah from what was done on Sukkot?

The commentators offer many parallels between Sukkot and Chanukah.

Actually, from the Book of Maccabees, it seems that the holiday was originally called "Sukkot in Kisleiv". (The generally accepted theory is that the soldiers on the battlefield were unable to celebrate Sukkot in its proper time and instead celebrated it now.)

The Sefas Emes points out that in no other holidays are we so focused on the aspects of hiddur. On Sukkot we take the pri eitz hadar and on Chanukah we perform the mitzva mehadrin min hamehadrin.

Chanukah and Sukkot (including Shmini Atzeret) are the only two holidays that are eight days, and that we say the full hallel throughout.

The Sefer Ha-toda'a explains beautifully that the three regalim each give off enough spiritual energy to enable the chachamim to enact a holiday corresponding to it. Chanukah corresponds to Sukkot. Of Purim, it says kimu ve-kiblu, the Jews again accepted upon themselves the Torah that they had previously accepted at Sinai on Shavu'ot. And the holiday that will correspond to Pesach will be to celebrate the ultimate redemption from this golus.

In our last post, we had mentioned that Ya'akov is associated with Sukkot. So, it should be no surprise that there may be some connection between Ya'akov and Chanukah, as well.

We had mentioned that the night before meeting Eisav, Ya'akov went back to retrieve some small jars (actually the possuk only says that "he remained alone on the other side of the river" - Rashi quotes the Midrash/Gemara that he returned for pachim k'tanim). The Damesek Eliezer (quotes the Midrash Tzeidah LaDerech that) says, "Said Ha-kadosh Baruch Hu, 'you troubled yourself for some small jars (pachim ketanim), so too will I perform a miracle for your descendents with a pach katan'".

The Shach on the Torah (quotes the Yalkut Reuveini that) asks: "where did Ya'akov get the oil to pour on the rock when he awoke from his dream?” and answers, “when he woke up, Ya’akov found a jar of oil concealed in the rock. When he poured it over the rock, he saw that it did not diminish. This same oil was used to anoint the vessels of the Mishkan, and the Kohanim, and all the Kings of Israel - and this same oil is hidden away for future times (to be used to anoint the Mashiach)". Note that the oil of the Chanukah miracle also did not diminish..

After wrestling with the angel and limping away on his hip, the verse says, ve-zarach lo ha-shemesh - "the sun shone for him [Jacob]". Rashi asks: "And was it only for him that the sun shone?" He quotes a Midrash that says, "This was a healing sun, as the verse says (Malachai 3:20) 'And the sun of 'Tzedaka' (righteousness/mercy) will rise with healing in its wings'". According to some, this "sun" refers to the ohr ha-ganuz (that we have previously mentioned).

The word לו has a gematria of 36. The Maharil writes that the word lo in this passuk refers to the 36 lights of Chanukah (without the shamash, the sum of [1..8] = 36). On the level of remez the verse can be read zarach lo ha-shamash - the shamash lit 36 (lights of Chanukah). The Bnei Yissachar explicitly calls the lights of Chanukah the ohr ha-ganuz,; the Kabbalists say that the 36 lights of Chanukah contain "the light of redemption".

In that last post (yes, it *was* very long ..) we also touched on the connection of Ya'akov to the concept of Bayit (house). Perhaps this is another reason that the mitzva of Chanukah is "ner is u-veiso".

Chanukah samayach, to you and your families.

:-)

Posted by joem on Dec 21, 2006 9:30 pm

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