Vol 10.23 - Chanukah Spanish French Audio Video
Rambam-Chanukah Megillat Taanit
View of Rambam (Hil. Chanukah 3:3) that the days of Chanukah are days of happiness
1. It states in tractate Shabbat: “What is [the reason of] Chanukah? For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they made search and found only one cruse of oil which lay with the seal of the High Priest, but which contained sufficient for one day's lighting only; yet a miracle was wrought therein and they lit [the lamp] therewith for eight days. The following year these [days] were appointed a Festival with [the recital of] Hallel and thanksgiving”
The Tur writes ( in the name if R’ Meir of Rothenbug) “that the many festive meals (seudot) that we increase in are non-obligatory meals (Seudot Reshus) for they only established Chanukah for Hallel and thanksgiving and not for drinking and happiness”
But Rambam states: “the Sages of that generation ordained that these eight days, which begin from the twenty-fifth of Kislev, should be commemorated to be days of happiness and praise [of G-d]”
And as the Maharshal (Yam shel Shlomo, Bava Kama 7:37), explains that according to the Rambam - in contrast to the rulings of the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 670:2) - the festive meals customarily served on Chanukah can be considered to be feasts associated with a mitzvah.
It is seemingly questionable: for in the Talmud it states that they were established . . . with Hallel and thanksgiving”, Yet Rambam writes that they are (also) days of happiness?
2. There is another difference in Rambam that is not in Talmud:
In tractate Shabbat: it states: “What is [the reason of] Chanukah? . . they found only one cruse of oil . . . yet a miracle was wrought therein and they lit [the lamp] therewith for eight days. The following year these [days] were appointed a Festival etc”. In other words, the [days] of Chanukah were appointed a Festival due to the cruse of oil and not for the victory of the war;
Yet Rambam explains as a reason and rationale that: “the Sages of that generation ordained that these eight days, . . .should be commemorated to be days of happiness and praise [of G-d]” - because of the salvation of the Jewish people and their deliverance from the hands of the Greeks , and the return of sovereignty to Israel , and (afterwards - states) the miracle of the cruse of oil
3. This can be understood by prefacing the well known question: Since the “main miracle was the victory of the war, [delivering] the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few etc”, why does the Talmud state that the days of Chanukah were appointed
[not because of the miracle of the victory of the war and the deliverance of the Jewish people from the hands of the Greeks , but rather]
because of the miracle of one cruse of oil etc.?
How, seemingly could they make the ancillary, the primary cause of the Festival?
And because of this critical question, Rambam holds that the intent of Talmud in asking “What is [the reason of] Chanukah?” is not to determine what specific miracle [caused them] to establish the festival, but rather to give a reason why they established it with Hallel and thanksgiving.
In other words, even without the miracle of one cruse of oil, they would have established the day of victory of the war as a festival (a day of happiness);
But the statement: “What is [the reason of] Chanukah? . . .they found only one cruse of oil” is relevant to the specific aspect of “Hallel and thanksgiving “ – for the reason that they established and appointed these [days] a Festival with [the recital of] Hallel and thanksgiving” is because of the miracle that took place with the oil.
And therefore after Rambam explains at length , the events of Chanukah, he concludes: “ And because of this, the Sages of that generation ordained that these eight days, . . .should be commemorated to be days of happiness and praise [of G-d]”.
In other words, because of the two types of events and miracles that are mentioned previously, they - ordained two things - “days of happiness” and “days of Hallel”.
“Days of happiness” because G-d “delivered them from their hand, and saved them . . . and sovereignty was returned to the Jewish people”; and
“days of Hallel”. – Primarily because of the miracle of the cruse of oil that “they lit the arrangement of candles from it for eight days"
Accordingly, it is also clear why Rambam divides these two events into two Halachot (laws)
[for even the division of the Halachot in Rambam is exact]
To show that from these two events evolved two Halachot (laws):
From the first event – the law of “Days of happiness” and from the second event – the law of “days of Hallel”. ( and the law that we “light the candles etc”)
It is simple to understand that Rambam would not innovate by himself a reason for the establishment of Chanukah and its foundation – from the “V'al Hanissim” prayer and from sayings of the sages.
And it is possible that he also possessed the Midrash Chanukah - for then it is understood simply, how he writes here many specifics: “issued decrees” etc etc
4. The reason for this division - that because G-d “delivered them from their hand, and saved them” they ordained “Days of happiness”; and because of the miracle of the cruse of oil they ordained “days of Hallel” is:
Happiness pertains to things that have a connection with the body [(as it states:) there is no simcha except with meat and there is no simcha except with wine]
However the aspect of Hallel pertains to Avodah of the heart, to the soul
The salvation of the Jewish people and their deliverance from the hands of the Greeks, where they “extended their hands against their property etc and oppressed them greatly” and similarly that which “sovereignty was returned to the Jewish people” – is a salvation and deliverance that pertains (also) to the body. Therefore the enactment also pertains to the body: “Days of happiness”
However, since the miracle of the cruse of oil, that “they lit the arrangement of candles from it for eight days”, was a spiritual salvation, they enacted, because of it “days of Hallel”
5. The previous explanation of “What is [the reason of] Chanukah? . . a cruse of oil” – that the miracle of the cruse of oil is not a reason for the entire concept of Chanukah, but rather, a specific pertaining to Hallel and thanksgiving – is also conclusive according to the Mordechai (full version). He states:
“And in Megillat Taanit they say that they ordained the festival because of the dedication of the Altar and so write the Or Zarua (?) and Kesef Mishnah(?) in the Midrash Rabbati parshat Ba’alotecha, and here it says that they ordained the festival because of the miracle of the cruse of oil (of the lights). And one could say that because of this, they enacted feasting and happiness, but Hallel and thanksgiving was enacted because of the miracle.
But according to the Mordechai – that which they enacted feasting and happiness was because of the dedication of the Altar; However Rambam – states that they enacted “days ofhappiness” was because “the G-d of our ancestors had mercy upon them, and saved them”, as above
And since from the three pillars of law . . . The Rif, Rambam and Rosh Z”L and two of them agree as one view” and they only cite that which is brought in the Talmud – The Beit Yosef decide the Halacha like them, according to what is written is the preface to Beit Yosef. (that he decides matters based on the majority of these three pillars of law)
M’Sichas Motzai Zot Chanukah
And Shabbat Parshat Vayigash 5734)
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