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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Chanuka

Why Do We Light?

by Rabbi Haggai ResnikoffPosted on September 13, 2016

  The purpose of lighting Hanukkah candles is פרסומי ניסא which translates into creating a communal feeling of participating in the miracle. This participation needs to be more tangible than it is right now. I offer two ways of making פרסומי ניסא relevant.…

Chanuka and Purim – A Study of Their Differences

by Rabbi Nathaniel HelfgotPosted on July 5, 2016

From a purely halakhic point of view, we generally regard Chanuka and Purim as equal in status. Both festivals are de-rabanan (rabbinically mandated), and the issue of “pirsum ha-nes” (publicizing the miracle) is central to both of them. This trend of thought finds expression in the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah.…

Piety and Power – A Combustible Mix

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on December 10, 2015

The gemara asks, “What is Chanuka?” (Tractate Shabbat, 21b). The answer given is well known: the miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. But according to Maharal, this answer makes no sense (Hidushei Aggadot, ad loc.). First, since when do we have holidays to celebrate miracles?…

Yosef the Tzaddik, Religious Arrogance and the Miracle of Chanukkah

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on December 23, 2011

Yosef is known throughout Rabbinic literature as “Yosef the Tzaddik.”  This phrase alludes to the verse in Amos (2:6), “their selling the Tzaddik for silver”, which is understood to be referring to brother’s selling Yosef for the 30 pieces of silver. …

Understanding Kedusha Through Hilkhot Chanukah

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on December 18, 2009

When studying Chanukah, we often study the classic sugyot from Mesekhet Shabbat (21b-23a). However, a more obscure sugya – “The violators (pritzim) came and profaned it” in Avoda Zara, 52B – provides important insights as well. Based on this verse from Ezekiel 7:22, the Gemara states that when the Beit HaMikdash was violated in the time of the Hasmoneans, the altar lost its sanctity and, when the Hasmoneans were victorious, they needed to dismantle and bury the now desacralized altar.…

Yaakov, Striving and the Miracle of Chanukah

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on December 11, 2009

In parshat Veyeishev, Yaakov, having finally endured the hardship and travails in the house of Lavan, and having finally returned to his homeland, the land of Canaan, and having reconciled with his brother Esav who (implicitly) agreed to relinquish his claim to the land, is now able to finally settle in the land of his fathers and to put all his troubles behind him: “And Yaakov settled in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan.” However, as soon as this point is reached, the narrative turns to Yosef and his brothers, and Yaakov completely fades into the background: “These are the generations of Yaakov – Yosef was seventeen years…” Perhaps responding to this shift in the narrative, Chazal – as Rashi reminds us – comment on the first pasuk, “Vayeshev Yaakov – bikesh Yaakov lashevet bishalva” – Yaakov wanted to dwell in tranquility, but God would not allow it because “there is enough tranquility for the righteous in the World-to-Come.” What is the meaning of this midrash?…

Fire or Light?

by Rabbi Dov LinzerPosted on December 22, 1998

The miracle of Chanukah is commemorated and publicized by the lighting of the candles. The Talmud (Shabbat 21b) tells us that the exact practice of how to light the Chanukah candles was disputed by the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai.…