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For the week ending 30 November 2002 / 25 Kislev 5763

Revenge for Simcha; Why Chanuka 8 Days

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Revenge for Simcha

Question: I received an invitation to the Bar Mitzvah celebration of the son of an acquaintance. Not too long ago I invited this acquaintance to the Bar Mitzvah celebration of my son. He failed to turn up and didn’t offer any apology for his absence. Is it proper for me to "repay" this behavior by refusing to attend his simcha (festive celebration)?

Answer: The Torah forbids a Jew to take revenge for some hurt he has suffered. Although the classic example of revenge cited in the Talmud deals with monetary matters ("I refuse to lend you the tool you request because you refused to lend me your tool when I requested it of you") the mainstream view of halachic authorities is that the prohibition against revenge applies to all matters of human relations. Even if you go to that Bar Mitzvah but can’t resist telling the host that you came despite his not coming to your simcha you are guilty of violating the Torah prohibition against harboring a hatred for the person who offended you.

All of this applies, however, to someone who ordinarily attends any simcha to which he is invited. If, however, you are a very busy person who finds it difficult to even attend every simcha of friends and relatives, but feels an obligation of gratitude to attend the celebrations of those who participated in the ones you hosted, the decision to absent yourself from the simcha of one who did not make that gesture cannot be considered a forbidden act of vengeance.

Although this is the halachic norm you should be very careful to search your soul to ascertain that you are not acting out of the slightest motive of vengeance and even then try your utmost to go beyond the letter of the law by attending your acquaintance’s simcha so that there should not remain any trace of retaliation.

(Based on the Responsa of Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, Rabbi of Ramat Elchanan Community in Bnei Brak, Israel)

Why is Chanuka 8 Days? 8 Answers…

The Chanuka miracle: A flask with one night's oil burned for 8 nights. But being that there was oil for one night, the miracle actually lasted only 7 nights. So why is Chanuka 8 nights?

Here are 8 approaches to answer this question:

They divided one night's oil into eight portions. Miraculously, each portion lasted an entire night.

Beit Yosef, Orach Chaim 670


The Greeks ransacked the Temple many days in search of oil to defile. Despite their strength and numbers, they overlooked one flask. A few weak, battle-weary Jews found it immediately.

HaMeiri in Lehodot U'lehallel; Sefer HaEshkol, Chanuka 6:13


Wanting the oil to last, they made the wicks one-eighth of the normal thickness. Nevertheless, the flames burned just as brightly as if the wicks had been the normal thickness.

Chidushei HaRim


The golden Menorah was ritually impure. So were all the Jewish soldiers, having come in contact with death on the battlefield. Therefore, they were forced to make a temporary earthenware Menorah, because earthenware is more resistant to impurity. But earthenware is porous, and when it's new it absorbs a small but significant part of any oil put in it. Therefore, one night's oil for a gold Menorah was not sufficient for an earthenware menorah because some of the oil is lost to absorption.

Bava Metzia 40a & Maharsha Chullin 55


In one account, the text reads "and there wasn't enough (oil) it to burn even one day..."

Sheiltot DeRav Achai Gaon, Parshat Vayishlach
found in footnote to Megillat Antiochucus in Siddur Otzar Hatefilot


Seven days commemorate the miracle of the oil, and one day commemorates the miracle that a few weak Jewish soldiers defeated the mighty Greek legions.

Kedushat Levi


Chanuka occurred in the year 3622 (139 BCE). Calendar calculations and other historical sources indicate that the 25th of Kislev, the first day of Chanuka, fell on Shabbat that year. Therefore, they needed to light the menorah before sunset Friday night, and consequently needed a little more than a night's-worth of oil.

Atzei Zayit


The commandment to light the Menorah with pure oil is written in the Torah (Vayikra, chapters 23 and 24) immediately after the commandment to observe the Succot festival for 8 days (7 days of Succot followed by Shemini Atzeret). The Sages saw this as a Divine hint that Chanuka should be for 8 days.

Bnei Yisaschar in the name of the Rokeach

Research based on Sefer Ner Lemeah, Rabbi Yerachmiel Zeltzer

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