web analytics
January 28, 2015 / 8 Shevat, 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.

Let us pray that this Chanukah our Jewish brethren, wherever they are found, will find peace, tranquility, and joy. May the lights of Chanukah usher in the light of Moshiach, speedily in our days.

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.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Netanyahu has been to Sderot numerous times. Here he surveys Gaza from the city, 2010.
Netanyahu Warns Northern Attackers, ‘Take a Look at Hamas in Gaza’
Latest Judaism Stories
Tissot_The_Waters_Are_Divided

Leading by example must be visible, regarding where, when and how-like Nachshon entering the Red Sea

Torah-Hakehillah-121914

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen, a Ram at Yeshivat Otniel, notes that the verse is suggesting that retelling the story of the Exodus is so important that Hashem is performing ever-greater miracles specifically so that parents can tell their stories to future generations.

Parshat Bo

Before performing the 10th plague God makes a fundamental argument about the ultimate nature of justice.

Daf-Yomi-logo

Life Before The Printed Word
‘A Revi’is Of Blood’
(Yevamos 114a-b)

How is it possible that the clothing was more valuable to them than gold or silver?

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)

“It means that the disqualification of relatives as witnesses is a procedural issue, not a question of honesty,” explained Rabbi Dayan.

Property ownership is an extremely important and fundamental right and principle according to the Torah.

The tenderest description of the husband/wife relationship is “re’im v’ahuvim/loving, kind friends”

And if a person can take steps to perform the mitzvah, he should do so (even if he won’t be held accountable for not performing it due to circumstances beyond his control).

Suddenly, she turns to me and says, “B’emet, I need to thank you, you made me excited to come back to Israel.”

Pesach is called “zikaron,” a Biblical term used describing an object eliciting a certain memory

Recouping $ and assets from Germans and Swiss for their Holocaust actions is rooted in the Exodus

Pharaoh perverted symbols of life (the Nile and midwives) into agents of death.

I think that we have to follow the approach of the Tannaim and Amoraim. They followed the latest scientific developments of their time.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
QuestionsandAnswers-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)

Vol. LXVI No. 3                           5775 New York City CANDLE LIGHTING TIME January 16, 2015–25 Teves 5775 4:36 p.m. NYC E.S.T.   Sabbath Ends: 5:40 p.m. NYC E.S.T. Sabbath Ends: Rabbenu Tam 6:08 p.m. NYC E.S.T. Weekly Reading: Va’era Weekly Haftara: Koh Amar Hashem (Ezekiel 28:25-29:21) Daf Yomi: Yevamos 104 Mishna Yomit: Kelim 17:2-3 Halacha Yomit: […]

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: 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: 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)

Vol. LXVI No. 1                           5775 New York City CANDLE LIGHTING TIME January 2, 2015 – 11 Teves 5775 4:22 p.m. NYC E.S.T.   Sabbath Ends: 5:27 p.m. NYC E.S.T. Sabbath Ends: Rabbenu Tam 5:54 p.m. NYC E.S.T. Weekly Reading: VaYechi Weekly Haftara: VaYikrevu Yemei Dovid (I Kings 2:1-12) Daf Yomi: Yevamos 90 Mishna Yomit: Kelim […]

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: