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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Category: Chanuka

lit menorah with colored candles against a pitch-black background. it is beautiful

Making the Old New Again: Chanukkah 5782 Greetings from Rabbi Linzer

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 1, 2021

Recently I was asked what the halakha is if a person forgot to make the brakhah of Shechiyanu when he or she lit candles on the first night. Should they make the brakhah when they light on the second night? The answer, somewhat surprisingly, is yes (SA OH 676:1).…

fully lit menorah leaning against jerusalem stone in the neighorhood of meah shaarim as the menorah illuminates the darkness around it

Publicizing the Miracle of Chanukkah to All

According to the Talmud (Shabbat 23b), we light candles on Chanukkah to publicize the miracle of the holiday (pirsumei nisa). This goal serves to determine where and when the candles should be lit so they can be seen by the maximum number of people.…

Sharing the Light: Is Religious Maximalism a Good Thing?

In the Time of Coronavirus

Chanukkah celebrates religious maximalism. We increase the number of lights each night to show that we will not just make do with the bare minimum of one light per night. In doing this, we remember the miracle of the oil, where the Jews at the time sought out pure oil, although impure oil would have sufficed under the circumstances.…

All your Mitzvahs in One Basket?

Rabbi Yitzchak Weiss was the Rabbi and Av Beit Din in Vrbové, western Slovakia. He was a student of Rabbi David Neumann Lackenbach, the Rabbi and Av Beit Din of Pressburg (modern day Bratislava) and a student of the Hatam Sofer.…

Is Hanukkah Holy?

Translation by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff; introduction by Rabbi Dov Linzer

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein zt”l (1895-1986) was the preeminent posek for North American Jewry for most of the 20th century, both for the Yeshivish and Modern Orthodox communities. Rav Moshe was born in Russia in 1895, where he served as rabbi making great personal sacrifices on behalf of his community until he emigrated to the U.S.…

Lighting Hanukkah Candles with Electric Lights: A Teshuvah from Rav Yaakov Moshe Toledano

Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Toledano (1880-1960), author of Responsa Yam HaGadol, was a Sepharadi rabbi and posek. He served Jewish communities in his hometown of Tiberias, in Tangier, Cairo, and finally Tel Aviv, where he served as the Sepharadi chief rabbi. In 1958, he was appointed the Minister of Religions.…

There’s No Going Home Again? – Where Do Travelers, Guests, and College Students Light Hanukkah Candles?

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 14, 2017

Many of us fondly remember precious moments with our families during Hanukkah – lighting candles, singing songs, eating latkes, and playing dreidel. The family-oriented strand of this holiday is actually deeply woven into its mitzvot and halakhic requirements. The obligation rests not on the individual, as is the case with almost all other mitzvot, but on the household as a unit, ner ish u’veito, a candle for the person and his household.…

Urban Living: Where to Light Your Menorah

This teshuvah is the fourth in a series of teshuvot related to the yamim tovim. Check out the first, second, and third teshuvot as well. Each teshuvah is introduced with a small biography of the author, and teshuvot are chosen to reflect a diverse range of halakhic approaches featuring pre-modern and modern poskim from different geographical areas.…

Less Fire, More Light – Lighting Hanukkah Candles Without Burning Your House Down

by Rabbi Dov Linzer
Posted on December 7, 2017

The story of Yosef and his brothers has, on the face of it, nothing to do with Hanukkah. But as it is often read right around Hanukkah time, it is not surprising that attempts have been made to find connections to Hanukkah.…

Why Do We Light?

by Rabbi Haggai Resnikoff
Posted 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 Helfgot
Posted 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 Linzer
Posted on December 10, 2015

The gemara asks, “What is Chanukah?” (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?…