Chanukah

For the week ending 24 December 2016 / 24 Kislev 5777

The Chanuka Candle - Havdalah Hullabaloo

by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Chanuka, O Chanuka…

Just thinking about the holiday of Chanuka should be enough to warm the cockles of anyone’s heart. With Menorah lighting, dreidel spinning, latkes, sufganiyot, family time and plenty of l’hodos u’lehallel, not to mention extra Torah learning, Chanuka gives us eight memorable days and nights. But even once you decide which opinions to follow regarding where and when to light the Menorah, there still remains an annual halachic debate that has been simmering since the time of the Rishonim. I am referring to whether one should light the Menorah or make Havdalah first on Motzai Shabbos Chanuka. This year, 5777, with two Motzai Shabbosos Chanuka (but only one actual Shabbos Chanuka) this halachic dispute really heats up.

Important note: This question is only relevant if one has already ended Shabbos by saying either “Attah Chonantanu” in Maariv or “Hamavdil Bein Kodesh l’Chol”; otherwise one would not be allowed to light Chanuka candles while it is still Shabbos for him.

Light the Menorah

Motzai Shabbos Chanuka is unique as it presents a situation of competing halachic principles. This has been the basis of the centuries-old debate regarding which mitzvah has priority and should therefore be performed first. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 681, 2) rules that on Motzai Shabbos one should light the Chanuka Menorah in Shul before making Havdalah[1]. The Rema adds that certainly at home one must do so as well, and lighting the Menorah precedes making Havdalah[2]. This is based on the Terumas HaDeshen’s (60) applying the Talmudic dictum of “Afukei Yoma M’achrinan”, or delaying the leaving of Shabbos (see Gemara Pesachim 105b). Meaning, if one can delay ending Shabbos, he should do whatever necessary to keep the holiness of Shabbos a bit longer. Therefore, they rule that it would be preferable to light the Menorah before making Havdalah, especially as it will augment the “Pirsumei Nissa” by at least a few precious minutes.

Taz: Tadir Tonight

However, the Taz[3] (ad loc 1) counters that the famous Talmudic adage of “Tadir Kodem[4] takes precedence. When one is faced with doing two different Mitzvos and is in doubt which one to perform first, he should begin with the one that is performed more frequently. A prime Biblical example is that even on Shabbos, Yom Tov, and Rosh Chodesh, the Korban Tamid, the communal daily sacrifice, was offered before the Korban Mussaf, the special sacrifice exclusive for those particular days. [See Bamidbar (Parshas Pinchas) Ch.28 and Gemara Zevachim 89a].

The Taz applies this ‘Tadir’ principle to Motzai Shabbos Chanuka. He maintains that since Havdalah is made every Saturday night, whereas Chanuka candles are only kindled eight nights a year, making Havdalah takes precedence. Additionally, he argues, once one lights Chanuka candles on Motzai Shabbos, he is showing that he intrinsically already ended Shabbos; if so what further gain can there be by delaying Havdalah further?[5] He adds that the great Maharal M’Prague (this author’s namesake) also ruled to make Havdalah before lighting the Menorah.

Taking Sides

As mentioned previously, this halachic debate has been ongoing for centuries[6], with many Poskim taking opposing sides. Those who sided with the Rema to light the Chanuka Menorah first at home include such luminaries as the Levush, Magen Avraham, Vilna Gaon, Elya Rabba, and Chayei Adam[7], while other renowned decisors, including the Pri Chodosh, Chida, Ben Ish Chai, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, and Aruch Hashulchan[8] conclude that the Taz was correct and one should make Havdalah first.

Many decisors offer additional rationales and reasons to explain why they feel that the other opinion is incorrect. For example, the famed Avnei Nezer wrote a point-by-point refutation of the Taz’s proofs, while the Chedvas Yaakov later did the same to his arguments[9]. And, interestingly, although Rav Yaakov Emden cites that his father, the renowned Chacham Tzvi, scorned those who would light Chanuka candles first, he nevertheless personally concluded that that is the correct course of action[10].

Contemporary Kindling

Contemporary authorities also have taken sides on this issue. The Chazon Ish zt”l, Rav Yosef Elyahu Henkin zt”l, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, Rav Shmuel Halevi Wosner zt”l, and Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l, all personally made Havdalah first, while the Tukachinsky Luach, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbachzt”l, and Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashivzt”l[11] ruled that Neiros Chanuka should be kindled first.

In fact, Rav Shlomo Zalman and Rav Elyashiv were such ardent supporters of lighting the Menorah immediately after Shabbos that they ruled that even those who normally wait 72 minutes for Shabbos to end (“Zman Rabbeinu Tam”) should not do so on Motzai Shabbos Chanuka; rather they should end Shabbos at an earlier zman and immediately light Chanuka candles, followed by Havdalah. This is also how the Chazon Ish and Steipler Gaon zt”l personally were noheg on Motzai Shabbos Chanuka[12]. On the other hand, Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, Rav Moshe Sternbuch, and Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l do not agree, maintaining that those who normally wait 72 minutes should do so as well on Motzai Shabbos Chanuka, and only then light the Menorah[13].

However, Rav Moshe Sternbuch and the Karlsberger Rav, Rav Yechezkal Roth qualify[14] that even according to those who make Havdalah first, nevertheless, if the setup and making Havdalah would delay the Chanuka lighting more than a half hour after nightfall, then it would be preferable to light the Menorah first, to ensure that one does not miss an opportunity for the optimal time of the Mitzvah of kindling the Menorah.

Lighting It Up

So, knowing that there is such a huge difference of opinion as to the proper halacha, what is one to do? The Mishna Berura, asking that very same question, famously concludes that in Shul one should light Chanuka candles before making Havdalah[15] (if applicable; many, if not most, Shuls nowadays do not make a communal Havdalah), yet at home “d’avid k’mar avid, d’avid k’mar avid”, whichever shitta one decides to follow, he is acting correctly[16]. Accordingly, even if you have a minhag to light the Menorah first while your neighbor is busy making Havdalah first, both of you should realize that both are equally halachically valid opinions.

It is told that Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld[17] used to ask his wife to prepare his Menorah for him on Motzai Shabbos Chanuka outside his house (observing Minhag Yerushalayim) while he was still in Shul. This way, when he came home, he would not have to decide which opinion to follow, and rather immediately light the Menorah (before Havdalah) before actually entering his house, in order not to “pass over a Mitzvah”.

Don’t Mix and Match

The noted Melamed L’Hoyeel, Rav Dovid Tzvi Hoffman (late 1800s), wrote an interesting responsum (Shu”t Melamed L’Hoyeel vol. 1 - Orach Chaim, 122), relating a personal anecdote. Apparently, after following the Taz’s approach of making Havdalah first for twenty-five years in his role as the Rav of Berlin, one Motzai Shabbos Chanuka he decided that he was going to follow the Rema’s opinion and light the Menorah first, as it was getting late. As he was about to light, he suddenly remembered that he had uncharacteristically forgotten to say “Attah Chonantanu” in Maariv, and technically had not yet ended Shabbos. He realized that according to the Magen Avraham, he was now required to make Havdalah before lighting the Menorah[18]. He understood that he was receiving a Heavenly sign from Above. Thus, he concluded, as should we all, that although both positions might be officially correct, with many great halachic authorities through the generations to rely upon for whichever opinion one chooses to follow, nonetheless, it is improper for one to change his longstanding Minhag.

Whether we are contemplating the lights of Chanuka or the Havdalah candle, regardless which we ended up lighting first, let us internalize their message that Hashem’s hashgacha in this world, showing us that the triumph of light over darkness is eternal and everlasting.

Postscript: This final psak of“d’avid k’mar avid, d’avid k’mar avid”, regarding the kindling of Chanuka candles or the Havdalah candle first applies to Ashkenazic practice due to said dispute over the centuries. However, regarding Sefardic practice, it seems to be that they must make Havdalah before lighting the Menorah at home (as opposed to in Shul, which would be the opposite, as explained above, which was the Shulchan Aruch’s actuallypsak), as virtually all Sefardic Poskim, including the Pri Chodosh (ibid.), Chida (ibid.), Ben Ish Chai (ibid.), Kaf Hachaim (ibid.), Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Shu”t Yechaveh Daas ibid.), Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (Darchei Halacha glosses to Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 139, footnote 27), and the Yalkut Yosef (ibid.) ruled this way.

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This article was written L'iluy Nishmas the Ohr Somayach Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R' Yechezkel Shraga and l’zechus Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam v’chol yotzei chalatzeha for a yeshua sheleimah teikif u’miyad!

For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos / sources, please email the author: yspitz@ohr.edu.

Rabbi Yehuda Spitz, author of MiShulchan Yehuda on Inyanei Yoreh Deah, serves as the Sho’el U' Meishiv and Rosh Chabura of the Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel at Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim. He also currently writes a contemporary halacha column for the Ohr Somayach website titled “Insights Into Halacha”. http://ohr.edu/this_week/insights_into_halacha/.



[1] Although in his Beis Yosef (Orach Chaim 681, 1) he merely cites both sides of this debate, between the Abudraham (pg. 201, Seder Hadlakas Ner Chanuka), who advocated making Havdalah first and the Terumas HaDeshen (60), on the other hand, in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 681, 2), he rules definitively like the Terumas HaDeshen, that one should light Chanuka candles before Havdalah in Shul.

[2] Rema in Darchei Moshe (Orach Chaim 681, 1) quoting the Maharil (pg. 406, Hilchos Chanuka 6), Kol Bo (44, 3, 4th column), and Agur (1040). Also ruled definitively in his Glosses to Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 681, 2).

[3] Taz (Orach Chaim 681, 1), and citing the Maharal M’Prague in his Ner Mitzva (pg. 28 -29). The Maharal adds another reason why Havdalah should be first. He says memah nafshach - If one already recited “Attah Chonantanu” in Maariv, then Shabbos is already officially over for him and there is no more inyan of ‘Afukei Yoma’, and if he did not, then he has not yet ended Shabbos and actually relies on Havdalah to end it for him, which needs to be done before he can light Chanuka candles. Therefore, he rules that Havdalah must precede lighting the Menorah.

[4] This klal is found throughout Shas, including Brachos 51b, Pesachim 114a, Sukka 54b & 56a, Megillah 29b, and Zevachim 90b - 91a.

[5] The Elya Rabba (Orach Chaim 681, 1) “answers up” this rhetorical question of the Taz and Pri Chodosh, explaining that until one actually makes Havdalah, even if he already ended Shabbos and started doing Melacha, remnants of the holiness of Shabbos remain.

[6] See footnotes 1 and 2 for the opinions of several Rishonim. Other Rishonim who wrote about this topic include the Meiri (Shabbos 23b s.v. af) who wrote that it was already debated in his time (13th century), yet ruled to light Chanuka candles first, as did the Sefer HaMinhagim of Rav Yitzchak Isaac Tyrnau (Tirna), while the Sefer HaEshkol (vol. 2, Hilchos Chanuka 6) and Ra’avad (Shu”t Tamim Da’im 174) ruled that Havdalah should be made first. See Biur Halacha (681 s.v. Madlikin).

[7] Levush (ad loc 1), Magen Avraham (ad loc, 1), Vilna Gaon (Biur HaGr”a ad loc 1, and Maaseh Rav 238), Elya Rabba (ad loc 1), and Chayei Adam (vol. 2, 154, 37). Others who ruled this way include the Maharika”sh (Erech Lechem, Orach Chaim 681, 1), Knesses HaGedolah (ad loc. 1), Beis Meir (ad loc.), Maamar Mordechai (ad loc. 1), Yeshuas Yaakov (ad loc. 1), and the Chemed Moshe (ad loc. 1). It is also reported (Shu”t Zichron Yehuda vol. 2, 242) that the Chasam Sofer, his son the Ksav Sofer, as well as his renowned talmid the Maharam Shick, all lit Chanuka candles before Havdalah. Another proof that several poskim cite is based on the Shulchan Aruch and Tur (Orach Chaim 681, 1) who rule like the Yerushalmi (which although quoted by many early sources, interestingly, is not found in our editions of the Yerushalmi), that one may not make Havdalah on the Neiros Chanuka. This, they say, shows that the Neiros Chanuka had to have already been lit in order for one to even think he may also make Havdalah on it, proving that the Menorah should be lit before Havdalah. For a hesber of themachlokes between the Gr”a and Taz, see Shu”t Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim vol. 4, 99, 1 s.v. tzibur).

[8] Pri Chodosh (Orach Chaim 681, 1), Chida (Morah B’Etzba 340), Ben Ish Chai (Year 1, Parshas Vayeishev 21), Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (139, 18), and Aruch Hashulchan (Orach Chaim 681, 2). Others who ruled this way include the Tosafos Yom Tov (Malbushei Yom Tov, 2), Chavos Yair (Mekor Chaim, Orach Chaim 681, 1), Derech HaChaim (Dinei Hadlakas Ner Chanuka B’Motza”Sh, 1), Beis David (474), Shulchan Aruch HaRav (Hosafos to Shu”A HaRav, Orach Chaim vol. 3, Minhagei Beis HaRav, Chanuka), Matteh Moshe (992), Ma’ohr VaShemesh (Parshas Mikeitz s.v. vayisa), and the Maharsha”g (Shu”t vol. 2, end 58). The Kaf Hachaim (Orach Chaim 681, 3) implies this way as well.

[9] Shu”t Avnei Nezer (Orach Chaim 499), and Shu”t Chedvas Yaakov (Tinyana 129). Several others did so as well. For example, the Yeshuos Yaakov and Chemed Moshe (ibid.) debated the Taz’s rationales, while the Shevet Halevi (Shu”t vol. 6, 85) later “returned the favor” to the Chemed Moshe, disregarding his proofs. Similarly, Rav Akiva Eiger (Glosses to Orach Chaim 681) points out that although the Bartenura (Zevachim Ch. 10, end Mishna 6) writes that the principle of ‘Tadir Kodem’ has priority over that of ‘Afukei Yoma’, conversely, the Rambam (Hilchos Tamidin U’Musafin Ch. 9, 20) writes that one has the right to choose which Talmudic rule to follow. On the other hand, Rav Shlomo Kluger (Haghos Chochmas Shlomo ad loc.) writes extensively to disprove any correlation of this statement of the Rambam to Motzai Shabbos Chanuka.

[10]Briefly in Shu”t Sheilas Ya’avetz (vol. 1, 52), and at length in Mor U’Ketzia (681). There are few other inyanim where the Ya’avetz takes a differing halachic position to his father, the Chacham Tzvi. In fact, regarding smoking on Yom Tov, the Ya’avetz’s biggest proof is his father’s personal actions! See Mor U’Ketziah (Orach Chaim 511 at length), and previous article titled ‘Smoking and Halacha: A Historical Perspective. A better known issue where Rav Yaakov Emden argues on his father is about whether the issur of Mevattel Issur applies by making an item pagum. See Shu”t Chacham Tzvi(101), Shu”t Sheilas Ya’avetz (vol. 2, 131) and Yad Efraim (Y”D 99, 5), who takes the Ya’avetz to task for arguing on his father. An additional interesting, albeit obscure issue is whether a Golem can count for a minyan. Although the Chacham Tzvi (Shu”t 93) at first remained undecided, the Ya’avetz (Shu”t She’elas Ya’avetz vol. 2, 82) ruled unequivocally that it would not count for a minyan! What is lesser known (and actually unknown to many later authorities, including the Mishna Berura) is that posthumously the Chacham Tzvi’s other son Rav Meshulem (Shu”t Divrei HaRav Meshulem vol. 1, 10 s.v. shayach) printed a later teshuva from his father; in it he retracted his position and ruled strictly as well. On this fascinating topic see also Birkei Yosef (Orach Chaim 55, 4 s.v. u'lmai), Ikrei HaDat (Ikrei Dinim Orach Chaim 3, 15), Rav Tzadok HaKohen M’Lublin’s Kuntress Divrei Chalomos (6), Shu”t Yehuda Ya’aleh (vol. 1, 26 s.v. v’da), Mishna Berura (55, 4), Chazon Ish (Yoreh Deah 116, 1), and Kaf HaChaim (Orach Chaim 55, 12). This was addressed at length in a previous article titled ‘Of Elul, L’Dovid, and Golems’.

[11] See the Tukachinsky Luach Eretz Yisrael (Chodesh Kislev, Motzai Shabbos Chanuka), and Halichos Shlomo, (Moadim vol. 1, Hilchos Chanuka Ch. 16, footnote 29). Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv also ruled this way, that one must light the Menorah at the “earliest possible minute on Motzai Shabbos Chanuka”, even before Havdalah (heard from his talmid Rav Nochum Eisenstein, as well as several eyewitnesses to Rav Elyashiv’s personal hanhaga, and not as quoted in Ashrei HaIsh - Orach Chaim vol. 3, pg. 255, 11). Interestingly, there are those who opine (see Rav Eliyahu Schlessinger of Gilo’s classic sefer Mitzvos Ner Ish U’Baiso, vol. 1, Ch. 10, footnote 20) that this difference of opinion is dependent on the locale. In Yerushalayim, where the common custom is to light Neiros Chanuka outdoors, the inyan of Pirsumai Nissa of passersby still exists. Ergo, the delay in lighting while making Havdalah might somewhat lessen the potential Pirsumai Nissa. That is why many Yerushalayim-based poskim maintained preference for lighting before Havdalah, while other poskim, from Bnei Brak and Chutz La’aretz, where the custom is to light indoors, did not feel this pressing need to mandate lighting Chanuka licht at the earliest possible moment, while there still is the Mitzvah of Havdalah to perform. Certainly an interesting theory.

[12] See Orchos Rabbeinu (vol. 3, pg. 30 - 31; new edition - 5775 vol. 3, pg. 125 - 127, 12 - 15) and Ma’aseh Ish (vol. 4, pg. 130, footnote 7).

[13] Shu”t Igros Moshe (Orach Chaim vol. 2, 62 s.v. v’chein), Mo’adim U’Zmanim (vol. 2, 155), Shu”t Yabea Omer (vol. 2, Orach Chaim 21), Yalkut Yosef (Moadim pg. 237 and Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 681, 3). Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin implies this way as well, in his Ezras Torah Luach and in his posthumously published Shu”t Gevuros Eliyahu (vol. 1, 166 s.v. Motzai).

[14] Shu”t Teshuvos V’Hanhagos (vol. 2, 343, 6) and Shu”t Emek HaTeshuva (vol. 2, 62, s.v. v’ode). This author has seen a similar ruling by the Avnei Yashpei, Rav Yisroel Pesach Feinhandler zt”l, in an unpublished teshuva.

[15] As in Shul there would be a greater ‘Pirsumei Nissa’ and only one person effectively has to end Shabbos in order to light the Shul’s Menorah; therefore the dissenting opinions would not preclude lighting the Menorah before making Havdalah in Shul.

[16] Mishna Berura (681, 3 and Biur Halacha ad loc s.v. Madlikin). The Machatzis HaShekel (Orach Chaim 681, end 1) advocated this approach as well. The Pri Megadim (ad loc. Mishbetzos Zahav 1; also citing his father) and the Chida (Birkei Yosef ad loc. 1), although both personally made Havdalah before lighting the Menorah, nevertheless wrote that both opinions are halachically acceptable. See also Rav Yosef Eliyahu Henkin’s Ezras Torah Luach, and in Shu”t Gevuros Eliyahu (ibid.) and Shu”t Videbarta Bam (ibid. citing Rav Dovid Feinstein explaining his father, Rav Moshe zt”l’s, personal actions) who write similarly, that both shittos are valid and every one should follow his own minhag. However, he concludes that he personally feels that it is preferable to make Havdalah first.

[17] Cited in Toras Chaim – Shu”t Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld (vol. 2, Hanhagos U’Psakim, Chanuka, pg. 100, Psakim 6, & Biurim 4). He held that “Ain Ma’avirin al Hamitzvos” (See Gemara Yoma 33a and Tosafos ad loc. s.v. ain) trumps either opinion and would inform us which Mitzva takes precedence in this situation. This would imply that if he would get home and find Havdalah prepared, and not the Menorah, then he would make Havdalah first.

[18] Magen Avraham (681, 1). The Maharal M’Prague (Ner Mitzva ibid.) also ruled this way. However, the Mishna Berura (681, 2) writes that according to those who hold that Neiros Chanuka precedes Havdalah, if one realized as he was about to light his Menorah that he forgot to say “Attah Chonantanu” in Maariv, then he should say “Hamavdil Bein Kodesh l’Chol” - effectively ending Shabbos, then light Chanuka candles, and only afterwards make Havdalah, and not like Magen Avraham’s psak. The Tukachinsky Luach (ibid.) rules this way as well.

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