The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs
Publicizing the Miracle- Part II
By: Rav Yechezkel Yakovson
Summary of Part I: The nature of publicizing the miracle of Chanukah (pirsumei nisa) is subject to a fundamental debate amongst the commentators. Rashi and the Rambam understand that the focus is applied upon the individual facilitating the pirsumei nisa. Thus, the optimum location for kindling the candles is between the courtyard and the home and the superior level of kindling the candles (mehadrin min hamehadrin) is done in conjunction with the intermediate level (mehadrin)- one kindles candles in accordance with the date and the number of inhabitants of the household. The individual who is lighting the menorah is cognizant of both factors and will generate a publicity of the miracle.
The Tosafot opine that pirsumei nisa is directed outwards to passersby and members of the general community. Thus the optimum location of kindling the lights is between a courtyard and a public domain. Mehadrin min hamehadrin is autonomous of mehadrin; one who lights in accordance with the relevant night of Chanukah should not kindle lights in relation to the members of the household, as this may confuse passersby, diminishing publicizing the miracle.
What lies at the crux of this debate? We notice that the halacha relates to both aspects of pirsumei nisa- for the individual and for people at large.
The gemara (Masechet Shabbat 24) rules that in times of danger, one kindles the lights on a table in the privacy of the home. The pirsumei nisa is manifested solely amongst the individual and those in his household. Yet, a pedestrian (who has not kindled the lights himself) recites a blessing (birchat haroeh) upon viewing a menorah. This is a function of the external pirsum hanes. Thus, pirsumei nisa contains two components. The commentators debate which constitutes the primary strand.
In the fourth chapter of Hilchot Chanuka, the Rambam (in Halacha 12) rules that a destitute individual is required to sell his clothes to enable himself to kindle a menorah. He utilizes the phraseology "to announce (lehodia) the miracle". In the following halacha, the Rambam relies upon an explicit gemara in Masechet Shabbat (23b) that kindling the lights of Chanukah takes precedence over reciting Kiddush with wine on Shabbat. The Rambam states the importance of "remembrance of the miracle (zikaron hanes)". "Lehodia" implies an external pirsum hanes. "Zikaron" connotes a personal reminder of the miracle. What generated the change of terminology?
The commentators search for the source of Halacha 12, that one is required to sell his clothes if that is necessary to facilitate kindling the lights of Chanukah. The Magid Mishneh advances the following thesis: A destitute individual is required to sell his clothes in order to acquire 4 cups of wine for the Passover seder. Certainly that is the case in relation to Chanukah.
The Lechem Mishneh objects to this thesis. Granted, kindling the lights of Chanukah is equivalent to the four cups of wine of the seder. How is it superior?
The pirsumei nisa generated from the four cups of wine is focused upon the family and guests partaking of the seder in a private dwelling. Thus it constitutes and internal pirsum hanes. Kindling the lights of Chanukah includes the external aspect of pirsum hanes as well. Thus, in Halacha 12 the Rambam utilizes the verb "lehodia" that indicates the superiority of the pirsumei nisa of Chanukah in relation to the four cups of wine of Passover. If in the latter case a destitute individual is required to sell his clothes, certainly that is required to generate the pirsumei nisa of Chanukah. Halacha 13 is not predicated upon superiority in the context of pirsumei nisa (rather., on maintaining harmony in the home- Shalom Bayit). Thus, the concept of remembering the miracle (zikaron) suffices.
The Shulchan Aruch (Siman 671) adopts the view of the Tosafot that one who lights in accordance with the day of Chanukah should not kindle lights in relation to the member of the home. The Rema accepts the opinion of the Rambam that both factors- date and members of the household- constitue mehadrin min hameiadron. Rav Velvel Soloveitchik (the Griz), comments however the Rama differs from the Rambam, as he rules that each member kindles the lights by themselves.
The Griz maintains that this argument between the Rambam and the Rema is predicated on a previous difference of opinion. Can an individual perform hidur mitzvah that is removed from the fulfillment of the mitzvah itself (should a mohel who has interrupted the circumcision- after having removed the requisite sections to be removed in circumcision-, resume the process of removing particles from the foreskin that do not invalidate the circumcision)? The Rambam answers in the negative; the Rema in the affirmative. Thus, the Rambam limits this halacha to the owner of the home. The Rema maintains that other individuals (such as members of the household) are able to create pirsumei nisa; consequently they may kindle the lights by themselves.
Perhaps the Rema intended to fulfill the directives of the Tosafot as well. The Tosafot ruled that a single individual may not light both in terms of the date and in reference to the members of the household due to the ensuing confusion. However, the Rema maintains that if members of the houselhold kindle the lights in distinct locations the relevant night of Chanuka will be noticed. This will generate pirsumei nisa in the context of mehadrin min hamehadrin. This fulfills the opinion of the Rambam while avoiding the objection of the Tosafot.
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