Thursday, 1 April 2010

Hanukkah Questions - with a bit of Mah Nishtana!

There are indeed many miracles associated with Hanukkah! Perhaps the greatest Halachic miracle is that the Sephardim adopt the Tosafistic definition of Mehadrin min Hamehadrin whilst the Ashkenazim follow the Rambam's definition! A true v'hahapoch hu!

There are two great anomalies in Sephardic p'sak re: saying brachot that are not in consonance with the Talmud:
  1. Hallel in Shul on the first night of Passover is said WITH a brachah!
  2. Hadlakat Nerot Hanukkah is done in shul with a bracha.
In the former case Hallel on Passover certainly generates a bracha but NOT at night! The fact is that the seder specifcally HAS Hallel sans Bracha!

In the latter case, the Shulchan Aruch gives the reason as "Pirsumei Nisa." Howver the Talmud's paradigm is strictly ner, ish uveito, and a synagogue fails this paradigm. This is quite an anomaly! However, the pirsumei Nissa model could be used to explain the brachot for BOTH Lighting Candles and Hallel; and this is indeed the Gra's approach.

Conversely, when it comes to saying Kiddush on Shabbat on Friday night IN SHUL, the Shulchan Aruch recommends better NOT TO -despite the fact that this custom has a Talmudic pedigree!

Were you to pose the answer of lighting candles on Hanukkah in shul for guests - this argument would be weakened by the anti-Kiddush decision which pre-supposes that we no longer house guests in shul anymore!

I have a novel approach to the 3 cases of kiddush, Hallel, and Neirot Hanukkah based upon a Tosefta in Pesachim. I spoke this out last week Friday night at the Minyan at Care-One in Teaneck. Anyone in cyber-space willing to venture a guess?


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