By Rabbi Yair Hoffman
Recently, a new sefer, titled Siach Chaim, by Rav Yitzchok OhevTzion was published containing letters between the author and Rav Chaim Kanievsky, shlita. What distinguishes this work from that of many others of the same genre is that this two-volume work contains an approbation from Rav Kanievsky. Many of the halachos found in the work that pertain to hilchos Chanukah are discussed below.
Q. The Mishnah Berurah in 671:9 writes that a woman does not light Chanukah candles because “ishto k’gufo”—a man’s wife is like his own self. Yet in 675:9 he cites the Olas Shmuel that if she desires to light, she recites a berachah.
A. She is like his own self—if she so desires to be.
Q. I once heard in the name of a certain gadol that it is preferable for a kollel member who is learning Torah in the beis ha’midrash not to stop his learning, and his wife should light at home in his stead. Should one conduct himself in such a manner?
A. One should not conduct himself as such. [For more about this question, see the Halachic Musings article in last week’s issue of the 5TJT. –YH]
Q. On Shabbos Chanukah when it is already 30 minutes after tzeis ha’kochavim, is it permitted to utilize and benefit from the Chanukah lights? Or do we say that since it was muktzeh during bein ha’shmashos one cannot benefit?
A. One may not benefit.
Q. What was the custom of the Chazon Ish’s house on motzaei Shabbos Chanukah? Did Havdallah come first or did he light first?
A. He did Havdallah first and then he lit.
Q. According to the custom of those who light first and then do Havdallah, should the wife also recite Baruch HaMavdil before her husband’s lighting?
A. It is worthwhile that she do so.
Q; May one light the Chanukah lights with oil that is Shevi’is?
A. It is forbidden.
Q. Is there any inyan to light the Chanukah candles with edible oil?
A. Some say that there is.
Q. It has been publicized in the name of Rav Chaim that if a person is in the hospital during Chanukah, Rachmanah litzlan, and he wishes to light Chanukah candles where he is, but the hospital policy is to forbid it, that he light with a battery-operated flashlight. Is this statement accurate that one can do so with a battery-operated electric flashlight?
A. This is what they say in the name of the Chazon Ish, zt’l.
Q. Regarding the new floating wicks that exist in our times—the wick is covered with wax—does this lower the quality of the lighting with olive oil, since when the wicks are lit it is fueled by the wax, and only afterward is it fueled by the olive oil—and the essence is during the time of the lighting? Or is there no concern here.
A. It does not lower the lighting quality.
Q. Why is the mitzvah of Chanukah different from other mitzvos, where there are different levels of observance, such as mehadrin min ha’mehadrin—something we do not find regarding the other mitzvos?
A. It is because the entire miracle happened because of a hiddur—a higher level of observance—since tumah is permitted for a public use. [In other words, the Maccabees technically could have used the flask of impure oil; they just wanted to go the extra yard, since they were setting things up for the first time after a long period of disuse. In such circumstances, everyone is looking and observing. The Chashmonaim taught us not to settle for things that are impure, but to perform the service in the best possible manner. This is a lesson in chinuch, too, to teach that one should always strive for the highest level. So, explains Rav Chaim, the mitzvos of Chanukah were established in that manner as well. –YH]
Q. The Gemara tells us in Shabbos 23b: Rav Huna says that a person who is ragil b’ner will have children who are Torah scholars. Yet we see many good and proper people who are careful in every aspect of the laws of Chanukah and even do mehadrin min ha’mehadrin, and yet they do not merit sons who are talmidei chachamim!
A. The person should have exerted more oversight of his child’s chinuch than he did. He is himself [a bit] at fault.
Q. In the matter of giving Chanukah gelt, it is said that the Steipler, zt’l (Rav Chaim Kanievsky’s father) only gave it on a certain day of Chanukah. Is this true? What day was it and why did he do so?
A. He gave it on the fifth day of Chanukah. The reason is that it never falls on Shabbos.
Q. Is there an inyan for one to study and to teach his children on the days of Chanukah the miracles and marvelous events that happened to our forefathers in the times of the Maccabees, which are recorded in the book of Yosifun, etc., or should one continue in his normal method of learning?
A. We learn the halachos of Chanukah.
Q. In the chassidishe sefarim, the custom is discussed of playing dreidel during these times. Is it proper to do so with one’s children or should one refrain from doing so?
A. Whoever does so, does so. v
The author can be reached at Yairhoffman2@gmail.com.
By Rabbi Yair Hoffman