Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Rav Kook on Channukah

(Amazing Article from the Bat Ayin Website. I would have reworded it from my perspective but I am in the middle of exams in Law School. Enjoy!)


In an article entitled "The Chanukah Candle" (printed first in 1935 and later in a collection of his essays) , Rav Kook uses a specific aspect of the laws of Chanukah as a metaphor for the way Am Yisrael should relate to its mission in the world.

As is well known the Talmud (Shabbat 21b) says that Chanukah candles should be lit at the door of the home facing the outside. However, in a time of danger it is sufficient to place the Chanukiah on the table inside the house. This limitation was for a long time the usual mode of candle lighting in Ashkenazi communities. This is reflected in the glosses of the Rema (R. Moshe Isserles) on the Shulchan Aruch which were written in the 16th century. The Rema assumes that everyone lights inside the house. Therefore the law of the Talmud that a home with two entrances to the public domain requires two lightings is no longer valid because there is no need to take into consideration that people outside might think that a person has not lit (O.H. 571:8). In addition, there is no need to make sure to light while there are still people on the street (O.H. 572: 2). Though today we are not afraid to light in our doors or windows there is an opinion supported by at least one contemporary posek that the original halacha requiring us to light outside is no longer authoritative and has been nullified (see the discussion in Mitzvat Ner Ish Ubeito by Rabbi E. Shlezinger of Gilo).

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