‘Music of Halacha’ Category Archives


The Music of Halacha: Kashering

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Music of Halacha, Portion of the Week, What is the Reason?

Dear Rabbi Weinberg; I have heard you say on numerous occasions that the laws of Kashering are a guide to repairing spiritual damage. Since the laws of Kashering are in this week’s Parsha, Matos, “Everything that comes into fire, you shall pass through fire and it will be purified (Numbers 31:23),” I was wondering where you got such an idea that I never heard in Yeshiva or from my rabbeim. How can you teach an idea which has no Mesorah/Tradition? YG

Dear YG;

I do have a Mesorah as do you:

“It is a matter that is clear and revealed that the laws of impurities and purity are biblical decrees. They are not among the ideas that a person’s logic will derive. and they are included in the category of, “Chukim,” statutes, as are the laws of immersion to be purified; for impurity is not mud or waste that are removed by water, but a biblical decree, and the matter depends on one’s intention. Therefore our Sages taught that one who immerses in a Mikvah that lacks an established status as a Kosher mikvah, is considered to not have immersed.

Even so, there is a lesson hinted in these laws that one who has intention to purify himself is purified once he has immersed even though he did not affect any physical changes. So too, one who intends to purify his soul from spiritual impurities, such as wicked thoughts and destructive ideas; once he has committed himself to separate from such ideas and immerses himself in the purifying waters of pure knowledge, of him the verse says, ‘Then I will sprinkle pure water upon you, that you may become cleansed; I will cleanse you from all your contamination and from all your idols (Ezekiel 36:25)’ [Rambam: Conclusion of Hilchot Mikva’ot].”

Many commentators wonder why the Rambam only mentions Teshuvah from destructive thoughts and not the purification of Teshuvah from all sins, and why the Rambam does not address the idea of immersion in the pure waters of Torah as part of every Teshuva.

The Beit HaLevi (Lecture 15) teaches that beyond the punishment that results from the sin of violating the Divine Will, the sinner has damaged more than one level of his higher soul, and has dulled his heart as is taught in the Talmud (Yomah 39a).

He continues, “We find that the impurity of the sin follows him around as a dog follows his master (Avodah Zarah 5b), and, our Sages have taught that the sin clasps onto him and precedes him into the Heavenly Tribunal on the day of his final judgment, as Ezekiel says, ‘For their iniquities remain upon them (32:27).

“When the person comes to do Teshuvah, besides that he needs atonement to negate the punishment, he must purify himself and repair the spiritual damage he caused his soul. and remove the blocks he has placed over his heart, as the verse teaches, ‘You shall cut away the barrier of your heart (Devarim 10:16).’

“When he has gone through the tree steps of Teshuva, which are total regret over the past, resolving to not again sin in the future, and the Vidui, immediately the impurity of the sin is removed from the surface of his soul, and he remains as a vessel without anything non-kosher on the surface, but still has impurity absorbed into the inside of the vessel.

“This is true on two levels: One, the habit of sinning has changed the essence of his soul and makes it easier to again sin, and two, the impurity of the sin as like something non-kosher that has been absorbed into a pot and must be kashered as the same heat at which it absorbed the non-kosher. The pot must first be rinsed of any surface non-kosher before it is kashered at the appropriate temperature.

“This is the idea taught by the Talmud, ‘When the serpent came upon Eve he injected a lust into her (Shabbat 146a),’ the same lust for sin that is injected deep into our souls each time we sin; a lust that corrupts our soul and empowers our physical side to overcome our spiritual nature, without any negative external influence to sin. The next sin will come from within. This is what needs to be Kashered, as the verse says, ‘Everything that comes into fire, you shall pass through fire and it will be purified.’

Nothing Kashers as does Torah study, as the Mishna teaches, “Whoever engages in Torah study for its own sake…‘machsharto, it makes him fit to be righteous (Avot 6:1),’ ‘machsharto’ as in Kashers him, after Teshuvah to remove the impurities absorbed in his soul and the barriers to his heart (Beit HaLevi; Derush #15).”

This is why the Rambam focuses on ‘one who intends to purify his soul from spiritual impurities, such as wicked thoughts and destructive ideas,’ for it is such sins that are the most difficult to Kasher.

My father zt”l taught me that the heat/passion/intensity at which the negative influence was absorbed determines the necessary heat /passion/intensity to burn out the evil.

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Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


The Meaning of Fasting

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

(Kings II Chapter 25) “It happened in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia, he and his entire army, came to wage war against Jerusalem and encamped near it, and built a siege tower around it.”

Jeremiah had been predicting the arrival of a storm from Babylon for years. No one listened. “It could never happen to Jerusalem!” No one wanted to listen, so they threw the prophet into a pit and jail. Babylon’s armies had already visited Jerusalem. Zedekiah was king only because his brother, Jehoiachin, was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar.

Zedekiah was not his real name. The 21 year old Mattaniah was renamed by the Babylonians ; they controlled everything, not only who was king, but even his name! And Jeremiah continued to warn the people how vulnerable they were, and how insecure their situation. But the people did not hear the prophet. They did not want to listen. “It could never happen to Jerusalem.” “It will never happen to me.”

The Babylonians were at the walls of the city and Jeremiah cried out to the people to listen to God’s message. Perhaps now they would listen to the man who spoke in God’s name. But the people did not pay attention to the prophet’s voice. They did not want to hear. They could have prevented the destruction of Jerusalem. They had ample opportunity to surrender to the Babylonians. But, they could not hear God’s voice in Jeremiah’s cries. They did not want to hear God’s message in their new circumstances, even as siege walls were being constructed around Jerusalem. They could hear the hammers banging away at the walls that would spell their doom, but they did not listen. They were not deaf. They chose not to hear.

They may have chosen to shut out God’s voice, Jeremiah’s cries, the sound of Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers marching, the noise of the construction and the loud and clear pronouncements of their political and military realities, but we can hear the sound of desperation and frustration in Jeremiah’s words.

We, the people of the Shema, “Hear O’ Israel”, so often choose not to hear. We shut out the warnings of Jeremiah. We ignored the warning signs of Hitler’s rise to power. We shut out the very clear message in Iran when Islamic radicals toppled the Shah. We, who repeatedly remind ourselves to hear and pay attention, simply slide into selective hearing. How can we hear the words of Shema as we should if we can so easily choose what not to hear? Either we hear the voices of God, the prophets and history, or we do not.

We remember the deafness of our ancestors in besieged Jerusalem and we “fast”! Would it not make more sense to dedicate the Tenth of Tevet, the Seventeenth of Tammuz, and the Ninth of Av, to learning how to listen? Why do we fast?

The Zohar (Volume 2, 20b) teaches us that we want God to pay attention to our fasting, just as He would pay attention to a sacrifice burning on His altar. We ask the Master of the Universe to pay attention, to hear us, to listen. We cannot accomplish anything with our fast if God does not take note of our feeble effort at fixing our mistakes. We cannot ask God to listen if we continue to shut our ears to Him. A fast is a prayer. A prayer must be heard. A prayer should begin a conversation.

A conversation cannot develop if either party does not hear the other. Jeremiah expresses this idea in a powerful verse (14:12): “If they fast, I will not listen to their call.”

The fast of the Ninth of Av is a prayer; a prayer that can only be effective if we remember to listen for God’s voice.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


The Music of Halachah: Kashrut: “Something Sharp” by Reb David Sacks N”Y

by admin in Music of Halacha

In Chullin 112b it discusses some of the halachas regarding a davar charif.  A radish is sharp — as is a beet.  They absorb the taste from the knife.  If the meat is basar the cut radish will become basar and you will not be able to eat it with dairy (kutach in the language of the Gemara).

Squash, says the Gemara is sweet.  As such, it doesn’t absorb the taste from the knife.

On Rosh Hashana we wish each other a sweet year.  Rosh Hashana is Yom HaDin.  The year is being shaped, or “cut”.  The nature of gevurah is that is gives form to something that had previous not had a definitive shape.  This is why women are gevurah.  They form the child, to give but one example.

When the knife cuts, it shapes.  But Hashem’s guidance (the cutting) does not have impart a “bad taste”.

From this you see, if someone is sweet they do not absorb the taste from the knife.  Meaning to say, they accept G-d’s hand and guidance and do not absorb negativity from events.

But we are all human beings with emotions.  So, the Gemara adds that the sweet squash still has to have the residue scraped off it, and then it can be eaten with milk.  In other words, even when life cuts, one still has to shake it off.  And allow themselves and others the space to do the same.

There is yet a higher level.  The Gemara goes on to discuss the turnip!  The turnip is SO sweet that it actually IMPARTS a sweet taste to the knife!  So much so, that if you now use the turnip knife to cut a beet (which is sharp) the beat will NOT absorb the taste from the meat knife — only the taste of the sweet turnip!

This means, if “bad” news comes down, and a person raises themselves to being on the the level of the sweetness of the turnip — then other people (even “beet” people who are sour/sharp) will only experience sweetness and not the taste from the knife.

How does one become sweet?  Through Torah.  As it says in Psalm 19 Your Torah is “sweeter than honey”.

May we all be blessed to live sweet lives and sweet years and allow the whole world to taste the sweetness of Hashem.


The Music of Halacha: Hachodesh: The Power of Chiddush

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha, Portion of the Week

“Understand the years of generation after generation (Deuteronomy 32:7).” In each generation, and in each age, there comes from Heaven a new understanding of Torah that speaks to that generation. The righteous of each generation understand how to teach Torah to their generation, and it is for this that we request on the High Holidays, “Write us in the Book of Life,” and it is written, “It is a Tree of Life for those who grasp it (Proverbs 3:18).” [Chiddushei ha-Rim, page 266)

The Torah speaks in a different voice to each generation. Torah is renewed for each age to communicate in an appropriate voice that will resonate with the generation. We tend to think of the power of Chiddush as the ability to come up with new ideas. The Chiddushei ha-Rim tells us that the true power of Chiddush is the ability to communicate the Torah’s teachings in a new voice.

There is an interesting Responum of Rashi (262) that offers an additional aspect of Chiddush: Rashi’s students noticed him raying without a belt. They did not understand their great master as the Talmud (Berachot 24b) teaches, “It is prohibited to pray without a belt so that the heart does not see the lower body.”

Rashi offers a simple answer: People in Talmudic times didn’t wear pants (Shabbat 120a lists 18 garments; no pants), but robes. There was no separation between the upper and lower body. However, we wear pants that separate, hence, there is no need for a belt!

Rashi examined the Halacha through the eyes of his generation. This too, is part of the power of Chiddush; to see an established law through new eyes.

Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi (1513 – 1586) a prominent student of Rav Yosef Karo and Rav Moshe Alshich writes: “Do not think that it is arrogance that allows me to raise my head among these lofty mountains, for whenever we speak of our belief in God, the Torah says, ‘For you to pass into the covenant of God, your lord,..not with you alone do I seal this covenant and this imprecation, but with whoever is here, standing with us today before God, our Lord, and with whoever is not here with us today (Deuteronomy 29:11-14).’ Everyone of us, our children and grandchildren until the end of Time, are part of this covenant, and are obligated to delve into the secrets of the Torah to fortify their faith. We accept the teachings of the earlier masters, but know that they did not write to insist that their’s was the absolute truth, and there is no other perspective. We gather opinions, consider on our own, and further our studies, applying their teachings in new ways. If we only accept what we have been taught and do not explore further on our own; we are sinning, lazy, failing in our Torah study (Ma’asei Hashem, Balak).”

Chiddush is demanded of us. The Covenant of Torah obligates us to be Mechadesh, to study and think and arrive at new approaches (consistent with what former generations have taught) and consider new ways to transmit the Torah’s wisdom. Rabbi Ashkenazi describes the Alshich as hesitant to write down his thoughts for fear that people would simply accept them without searching for their own insights and new ideas!

The Chidah (Birkei Yosef, Yoreh Deah 244) rules that in our times most scholars do not have the status of a Talmid Chacham in terms of the strict rules of honor and respect, except for one who is a Mechadeish!

Chiddush demands that after we have absorbed and reified our teacher’s Torah that we apply those ideas in new ways, search for new insights, and find ways to communicate those ideas in a way that will resonate with our generation.

The concepts of Hachodesh expand and apply to all areas of Torah: It demands Chiddush, a new perspective, a fresh outlook, a quest for even more meaning, and finding the right way to communicate those ideas to our children and students.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


Rav Chaim Vital on Ad d’lo Yada

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

A person is obligated to drink on Purim until he no longer knows the difference between “cursed Haman” and “blessed Mordechai.” (Megilla 7b)

That which our Rabbis, of blessed memory, have said, that a person is obligated to drink on Purim until he no longer knows the difference between “cursed Haman” and “blessed Mordekhai” – this means as follows: It is known that in every kelipa there is a spark of holiness that gives it life, and should it be removed, [the kelipa] will be left with no vitality and immediately it will totally disappear.

Now on this great day, when there is this great illumination, we want the vitality of this illumination to reach this spark as well, but not that it should reach so far to illuminate the kelipa. For this reason a person must get drunk on this day, to the point that he does not know the difference between “cursed Haman” and “blessed Mordekhai.” For he may err and give a blessing to that spark in the kelipa, and it too will be blessed, but its blessing will not have perfect intention, for if it would have, it would receive a great deal and the kelipa would also be blessed.

[Alternate reading: Therefore he must say “blessed Haman,” to draw light also to that spark, and therefore he must say it without intention, since he is drunk and has already lost his mind. For were it with intention, God forbid, it would also illuminate the kelipa.] (Peri Etz Chayyim, Sha’ar Rosh Chodesh, Chanuka U-Purim, ch. 6)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


The Music of Halacha: Hiding in Halacha

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Music of Halacha, Relationships

I become very uncomfortable when someone has justification, serious and valid halachic justification, for speaking negatively of someone else, known as Lishon Harah. I can’t argue with the justification. There are times when we are permitted to speak negatively of someone else. However, it makes me nervous. I feel as if it is a little too tempting to hide in halachah.

I recall a responsum of the Rashba, Rabbi Solomon Ibn Aderet (Volume II, #35) about just this sort of justification, what I have described as, hiding in halachah.

The city of Gerona in northern Spain was noted in the medieval period for its large Jewish community, as well as its great sages. Alongside the majority of pious and God fearing citizens of Gerona, there were also individuals in the community who did not lead exemplary lives. Jewish communities, unfortunately, have not been devoid of profligates and sinners, although we can say that such persons generally constituted a minority of a community devoted to God and His commandments.

It happened during the 13th century that one of the citizens of the community, whom we shall call Reuben, whose daughter had reached a marriageable age, a really managed a match for her with a certain Simeon, who apparently was a young man of dubious reputation. He was known to occasionally gamble, though not to access. A time was set for the wedding, and, as was customary at the time, it was agreed that penalties would be imposed upon the party that would violate the agreement. The documents were placed with a trustee who agreed to turn them over to the party that was willing to carry out the terms of the contract, so that the latter would be entitled to receive compensations if his demands were not met.

In the meanwhile, Simeon began to consort with people of unsavory reputation, openly flouted the accepted Jewish pattern of behavior, and became so unruly that he was actually placed under a religious ban. He devoted all his time to gambling which, in the course of time, became his sole occupation. When the time arrived for the wedding, Simeon insisted on going through with it. Rubin, however, refused to permit his daughter to marry the rascal. Although Rueben was aware that Simeon gambled, he could not have known before hand that his future son-in-law would turn out such a scrapegrace.

The would-be groom went to the trustee to obtain the document which entitled him to damages in case the contract was not fulfilled. Were he in possession of this document he felt that his case would be foolproof. The father, however, maintained that he owed Simeon nothing because his behavior had become so intolerable that he had to be placed under the ban. Simeon apparently, was not altogether ignorant of Jewish law and claimed that as long as he was not physically unbearable and thus subject to the Jewish law which compels him to grant a divorce (Ketubot 77a), he was entitled to marry his fiancée, because a woman is satisfied to marry anyone as long as he will be a husband to her (Kiddushin 7a). Besides, he maintained, the father already knew beforehand that he was a gambler.

The father, however, insisted that morally corrupt people are more dangerous than people suffering from foul diseases. The fact that Simeon was under the ban, he claimed, denied him the right of marrying (Moed Katan 15b).

This case was brought before the greatest Talmudic authority in Spain at the time, the Rabbi of Barcelona, the Rashba. In his responsum, the great Rabbi decided in favor of the father. He declared that the trustee was not obligated to give the documents to Simeon, since there was no clause included that the document be placed retro actively in the possession of the wronged party. Where this clause is missing, he explained, the law of asmachta, a non-binding consent to forfeiture on the part of the defendant if he does not carry out his agreement, is put in operation.

Moreover, since the fiancé is unwilling to marry the young man, the agreement of forfeiture is not binding: the father is in no position to make his daughter marry the man.

It is, in addition, a reasonable assumption that were the father to have known that the man would behave so notoriously, he would never have agreed to give him his daughter in marriage, anymore than she would have consented to marry him.

This reasonable assumption is grounded in the Talmud (Bava Batra 132a). Likewise, the argument that being under been he may not marry is supported by Rabbi Aderet.

In conclusion, even if the trustee had handed over the documents to Simeon, they would not have empowered him to collect compensation.

In this manner Jewish law protected a family from an unhappy marriage, and prevented a rascal from collecting compensation for his up noxious behavior and for making himself unacceptable as a husband.

The fact that this question was sent from Gerona to Barcelona, to the greatest rabbi of the generation, means that local rabbis did not know how to argue with the Halachic arguments of the gambler. He knew enough law to justify his claims. He had just enough knowledge to argue his case, and confuse all but the greatest sage of the generation. It’s dangerous when we use halachah to justify our behavior, when we, as we said, hide in halachah.

The next time we want to justify speaking negatively of someone else, let’s remember that when dealing with serious laws, those that protect someone’s reputation and life, it is not enough to ask just anyone, we have to ask a true expert, a real sage. The awareness that we have to ask, and the additional awareness that we must make an extra effort to find a true expert, will help us hesitate before we jump to a conclusion that we may see speak as we wish, and it will also allow us an opportunity to practice Yirat Shamaim, Awe of Heaven.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


The Music of Halacha: Shabbat: The Creativity of Restriction

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Music of Halacha

Every time I walk into a store to begin my Pesach shopping, I feel a slight twang of nostalgia for the Pesach of my youth. Everything had to be prepared by hand, at home. There were very few Kosher for Passover products available. Every year there would be one new product, especially treasured and appreciated if it was a new type of Pesach Candy, which was so exciting. Nowadays, we simply walk into a store and buy everything that we need for Pesach, and end up not missing very much at all. It just doesn’t feel the same as the pace of my youth. I guess my perspective was that the Pesach restrictions were an essential part of its special feeling. I think I was wrong.

One of the biggest thrills of my life is to watch as my wife creates new spectacular recipes that are gluten-free. I remember when the doctor in Germany told me that I have Celiac Disease, that my heart sank. My favorite food was bread. No more bread for me. We found gluten-free matzo, but it tastes like cardboard. Then, one of my daughters found gluten-free challah. “Oh joy! Oh heaven!” It was even edible, especially if you heat ed it and added some honey. The menu continues to expand. I can now have pancakes, pretzels, pasta, brownies, blondies, scones, muffins, fantastic cakes, and things just keep on coming.

All of the restrictions of a gluten-free diet inspired my wife to achieve new heights of creativity. I remarked on this, this morning, and Debbie looked at me and said, “of course! Just think about Shabbat! The point of restriction is to encourage creativity and thought. Isn’t that why you write “The Music of Halachah?”

She’s right! I always hated when people emphasize the restrictions, and the rules, rather then the creativity demanded by the restrictions. I always celebrate Debbie’s resourcefulness as she figures out how to use what’s available, no matter how limited, to create the most fabulous things. Every time I face one of the Shabbat restrictions, I have an opportunity to review the complex laws of Shabbat to see if there is any way I can do a specific action with in the Shabbat guidelines. The restrictions encourage creativity.

I was wrong about Pesach. Yes, I do miss the involved work of making all the Pesach food rather than simply walking into a supermarket. However, every time I now look upon the thousands of Pesach products available, I can celebrate how our natural response to restriction is creativity.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


The Music of Halacha: Purim: Being Invisible

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

They are two very different experiences. There are some mornings when I prepare a cup of coffee for my wife, bring it upstairs, and sit with her as she wakes up. I am there to give the coffee to. Other mornings, I will prepare the coffee, bring it upstairs, and just leave it on her night table with or without a little note saying, “Good morning.”

I can be there to present the coffee, or I can just leave it there for her, letting her know that I was there. She has told me that they are two very different experiences for her. The laws of Purim made me realize that they are two different experiences for me as well.

We are encouraged to send our Mishloach Manot, our gifts of ready to eat food for our friends’ Purim Seudah, through a third party, a messenger. Although this is commonly understood as involving more people in the joy of giving our gifts, perhaps we are re-creating the morning coffee left on the night table with a small note.

I know a couple that have two very distinct ways of presenting a gift. One is entirely focused on the gift. This spouse will spend hours preparing the gift, and then simply present it, focusing on the gift itself. There is no production or emphasis on the giving of the gift. The other spouse will also spend a great deal of time in preparing the gift, and dedicates a tremendous amount of thought and care in choosing the perfect gift. But, this spouse loves to make a huge production for the actual presentation of the gift. This spouse stresses the giving, not the gift. This spouse insists that the stress should be on, “See how much I care for you.”

The one who is focused on the “giving,” is the one who is present in the room to offer the coffee. The one who cares only about the gift, is the one who makes the coffee and lease it with a little note.

Purim Mishloach Manot emphasizes the gift, not the giver. The giver is almost, but not quite, invisible. It is not about the giver, but the gift. It is to create a sense of, “Wow! Look how much someone cares for me.”

People spend a great deal of time thinking of creative ways to present their Mishloach Manot. I often feel that the creativity is more important than the message. When that happens it becomes about the giver and not about the gift.

I suggest that we prepare our Mishloach Manot emphasizing, not us, the givers, but on making sure that the recipients will experience a sense of being very cared for by a friend.

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah.


The Music of Halacha: Lighting the Chanukah Candles Part Two

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

The first mention I can find of the order for lighting the Chanukah candles is in Sefer Tashbetz (Rabbi Shimshon bar Tzadok) where he describes how his Rebbi, the Maharahm (Rabbi Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg 13th Century) lit his Menorah: The Maharam first lit the far left (His left) candle – the fulfillment of the basic Mitzvah  and then turned to the (his) right as the Talmud (Yoma 15b, Sotah 15b, & Zevachim 62b) teaches, “All turns should be to the right.” (This rule applies each Friday night when we turn around for “Bo’i B’Shalom;” we should always turn right.)

The Tashbetz is describing his Rebbi as lighting the Chanukah candles based on a Talmudic concept about the Avodah in the Beit Hamikdash, in other words, the Maharam lit the Menorah “as if” he were lighting the Menorah in the Beit Hamikdash He is also teaching us how we must light our candles: We do not simply light Chanukah candles, but we are to see ourselves as if we are performing part of the Service in the Beit Hamikdash.

See “The Music of Halacha: Lighting The Chanukah Candles Part One“)

Author Info:
Learn & discover the Divine prophecies with Rabbi Simcha Weinberg from the holy Torah, Jewish Law, Mysticism, Kabbalah and Jewish Prophecies. The Foundation Stone™ is the ultimate resource for Jews, Judaism, Jewish Education, Jewish Spirituality & the holy Torah


The Music of Halacha: Chanukah: Law & Custom

by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Holidays, Music of Halacha

The majesty and music of Halacha is evident in every detail of the Chanukah laws. The laws designed by the sages afford us insight into their understanding of the Chanukah battles, victories and miracles. We should begin by clarifying what is law and what is custom.

“Our sages taught that the basic Mitzvah of Chanukah is one candle for each household. Those who want to beautify the law light one candle for each person. Those who want to add even more beauty: The House of Shammai taught that he should light eight candles, decreasing each night of the holiday until he lights only one candle on the eighth night. The House of Hillel taught he should light one candle the first night, adding one candle each night, until he lights eight candles on the final night of Chanukah.” (Shabbat 22b) The Mitzvah of the Chanukah menorah is fulfilled with a single candle and any additional candles are simply to count the days.

We mark the miracle with the Menorah in the Temple with our menorah and yet, rather than light seven candles, as they did in the Temple, we light only one. The sages went to great lengths to create parallels between the Chanukah menorah and that of the Temple. (Ran, Shabbat, Chapter 2) Yet, we do not make any attempt to recreate the Menorah with the number of candles. We are remembering a solitary candle, not a single jar of oil, but a single candle, perhaps a particular candle.

There was a distinct candle on the Temple menorah. The “Ner Ma’aravi”, or the westernmost candle was different from the other six candles of the menorah. The Torah refers to this candle as “Ner Tamid”, or the “Eternal Light”. The Kohanim would relight only this candle in the morning if it went out after burning all night. The other six candles only had to burn through the night. The Ner Tamid was constant. The other six were not. The Chanukah candle is to remember this specific candle.

The Temple candles were understood not only as a symbol of God’s light, but also as an actual source of light in the world. The light of the six candles was considered the source of prophecy. Prophecy was present in the world as long as the light of the six candles burned bright. Samuel could receive his first prophecy only as long as the light of the menorah was still burning.

There was another source of light on the menorah, the Ner Tamid. This light was more constant and more permanent than the other light. This light was the light that is granted to the wise. It is the source of perception and insight. It is illumination that goes far beyond any wisdom. It is the ability to see the essence of the world, the light of clarity that was present only at the beginning of Creation. This light is constant. It did not disappear with the destruction of the Temple and the loss of the menorah. (Zohar, volume 2, 6b)

The Chanukah candle recreates the light of wisdom, not the light of prophecy, so we light only the one, our celebration of the Eternal Light of the Temple menorah.

The Chanukah laws teach us that we celebrate the gift of wisdom on Chanukah. It is not enough to light the candle; our festival must be a celebration of the wisdom we have been granted in the Torah. The candles point us in the direction of wisdom and the light we can discover and apply from within the wisdom of the Torah.

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