web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


Q & A: The Chanukah Candles And Danger


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Question: The Gemara in Shabbos states that one should ideally place one’s menorah by the side of one’s outside door. In a dangerous situation, one may place it on the table inside the house. If the dangerous situation the Gemara discusses, however, refers to potential anti-Semitic behavior by one’s neighbors, how does placing the menorah indoors help? Can’t non-Jews see the menorah through the window? Wouldn’t anti-Semites potentially search Jews’ houses? Is there any safe place to light in such circumstances?

Menachem
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: Though most of our readership reside in locales where there is relative calm and tranquility that enables the practice of our mitzvot, there still are places in the world, even today, where the authorities take a dim view of Jewish practice. In addition, there are lands where the government guarantees freedom of expression, but those living in close proximity to Jews are hostile. Open practice of our religion may still be a concern. From your letter, this is what I gather to be your concern.

The Gemara that you have cited is Shabbos 21b. The danger to which you have correctly referred in regard to the Chanukah lights is from hostile gentiles, or hostile elements of the local populace. Let us review the Gemara: “Our sages taught: It is incumbent to place the Chanukah lamp at the door of one’s house on the outside; however, if one dwells on an upper floor, one places it in the window that is closest [facing] the public domain. However, in time of danger, it suffices that one place it on one’s table.”

Rashi (ibid., s.v. “mib’chutz”) explains that one needs to place the lights outside in order to facilitate “pirsumei nissa – publicizing the miracle.” Thus, if one is on the second floor or higher, where it is obviously impossible to place the lights outside, the Gemara informs us that placing the menorah at the window compensates because it will still be seen by people on the street. The last option, to light on the table, is problematic because to do so means that the candles will not be seen outside.

This actually partially resolves your question. When the Gemara offers this last option to light on the table, the assumption is that it will not be seen outside (either because a curtain is drawn or because the menorah is lit in an interior room with no windows). Still, one must wonder what pirsumei nissa one has accomplished if one lights on a table hidden from view.

The Ri (Rabbenu Isaac Dampiere, Tosafot, ibid., s.v. “u’b’sha’at hasakana”) explains that our Gemara is talking about people known as “Chavri” who came to Babylonia. (Rashi refers to them as Persians who would persecute Jews for lighting Chanukah candles on their Persian festival when they themselves would light in their temples.) The Ri asks a question similar to yours: If we are worried about the anti-Jewish Chavri, how does lighting on one’s table help? Shouldn’t we be afraid that the Chavri will enter one’s house and remove the menorah? Tosafot answer that the Chavri would not go so far as to enter homes in search of Chanukah candles.

The Ran suggests that the Gemara is not talking specifically about the Chavri. Rather, it refers to any situation where an edict prevents Jews from properly fulfilling the mitzvot. In such a situation, one should light menorah on one’s table. Even if the anti-Semitic authorities see the menorah, one will still be safe because they will assume that the menorah on the table is simply an ordinary source of light to illuminate the house.

We can still ask, though: What about pirsumei nissa? Who will see a menorah lit on one’s table?

We can suggest two answers: First, perhaps the pirsum is for those in the house. Second, due to the danger, perhaps one is exempt entirely from the mitzvah. If so, why light? So that the mitzvah not be forgotten. Furthermore, although the pirsum aspect of the mitzvah is not fulfilled, at least the lighting itself is. Perhaps we can compare lighting on a table to counting sefirat ha’omer, which is only a zecher l’mikdash and a rabbinical mitzvah in our time (according to most authorities) since we have neither the omer sacrifice nor the Temple to which it is brought.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: The Chanukah Candles And Danger”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
US has no problem with Egypt's bombing hundreds of homes of Gaza civilians but can't stand to see Israel destroy a terrorist's home.
Gaza: Egypt Responsible For Weapons Shortage
Latest Judaism Stories
Hertzberg-041715

Lincoln was not a perfect man. But he rose above his imperfections to do what he thought was right not matter the obstacles.

Arch of Titus

Adon Olam: An Erev Shabbat Musical Interlude Courtesy of David Herman

Daf-Yomi-logo

Oh My, It’s Copper!
‘…And One Who Is A Coppersmith’
(Kethubboth 77a)

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

The omer sacrifice of loose barley flour was more fitting for animal consumption than human consumption and symbolizes the depths to which the Jewish slaves had sunk.

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

When Chazal call not eating treif food a chok, that refers to how it functions.

His mother called “Yoni, Yoni!” Her eyes, a moment earlier dark with pain, shone with joy and hope

Kashrut reminds us that in the end, God is the arbiter of right and wrong.

In a cab with Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach & Rav Elayshiv discussing if/when to say tefillas haderech

The successful student listens more than speaks out; wants his ideas critiqued, not just appreciated

Why would it not be sufficient to simply state lehoros from which we derive that in such a state one may not issue any psak?

What do we learn about overcoming loss from the argument between Moses and Aaron’s remaining 2 sons?

Each of the unique roles attributed to Moshe share the common theme that they require of and grant higher sanctity to the individual filling the role.

Because of the way the piece of my finger had been severed, the doctors at the hospital were not able to reattach it. They told me I’d have to see a specialist.

“The problem is that the sum total is listed is $17,000. However, when you add the sums mentioned, it is clear that the total of $17,000 is an error. Thus, Mr. Broyer owes me $18,000, not $17,000.”

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Q-A-Klass-logo

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Question: What if someone forgot to count sefirah Thursday evening but only realized after he finished davening Friday evening? The catch is that he accepted Shabbos early so that it is still light outside. Can he still count for Thursday evening and then count for Friday night with a berachah once it gets dark?

Pesach Bernstein
(Via E-Mail)

Question: What if a person counted the Omer but forgot to utter the blessing beforehand? Has he fulfilled his obligation? Incidentally, why do we recite a blessing for this counting but not for the “zayin nekiyim – seven clean days”?

M. Goldman
Miami Beach, FL

Question: Must one spend great sums of money and invest much effort in making one’s home kosher for Passover? Not all of us have such unlimited funds.

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-the-chanukah-candles-and-danger/2012/12/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: