Shabbat Parashat Miketz| 5765
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Obligation to Say Hallel and Light Candles on Chanuka - Excerpts from Eretz Hemdah I, 4
[In analyzing the halachic precedents on the question of instituting the saying of Hallel on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Rav Yisraeli examined the institutions of Purim and Chanuka.]
The gemara in Megilla (14a) says: “48 prophets prophesied … and did not detract from the Torah, nor did they add to it except for the reading of the Megilla [on Purim]. What was their source [for adding the Megilla]? If upon going from slavery to freedom they sang, upon going from death to life all the more so.” If not for this idea, it would have been forbidden to add on to the Torah in such a manner (Maharsha, ad loc.).
Rashi (ad loc.) asks that the gemara should have mentioned the “new” mitzva of Chanuka lights. He answers that the institution of Chanuka was done after the period of the prophets. So how was it permitted? The Maharsha (ad loc.) explains that Chanuka too was based on derivations, from p’sukim in Parashat B’ha’alotcha. One should note that Rashi asked about the Chanuka lights, while the aforementioned source about Purim refers only to the saying of songs of praise. Thus, a different source was needed.
The questions beg. What is the source for being able to say a full Hallel on Chanuka, and why did Rashi refer specifically to the Chanuka lights, not the Hallel? One can also ask about the gemara’s kal vachomer. The base of the derivation is from the singing of praise upon leaving the bondage of Egypt, which itself was a decision of the prophets of that time (Turei Even). So who authorized the prophets of Moshe’s time to institute it? One can deduce from the language of the prohibition against adding on to the Torah that it began only with the giving of the Torah, seven weeks after the Exodus and its songs of praise. As the Torah left unchallenged the institution to sing those songs, the concept of doing so in equivalent situations was confirmed. But if the practice was confirmed by the Torah, then why did the gemara consider it an addition of the prophets?
This question brings us precisely to the answer to our previous questions. We asked why Rashi only raised the question of the Chanuka lights, not Hallel and what the source is for Hallel. Indeed, the saying of Hallel on Chanuka is a direct application of the songs of praise of Pesach. [We will have to forgo Rav Yisraeli’s discussion on the question if that refers to Hallel on the first night of Pesach or Hallel or “Az Yashir” at the splitting of the sea.] But the reading of the Megilla on Purim, although sharing a conceptual basis with Hallel, was a new institution, which the prophets needed to derive. So too, lighting the Chanuka candles is a form of praising Hashem for the miracles he bestowed upon us. However, as it was a new form of accomplishing this goal, it required its own derivation. The Ritva explains that just as the earlier prophets applied the concept of Hallel and extended it to the reading of the Megilla, so too the later Rabbis created the Chanuka lights as an application of the concept of praising Hashem for His miracles.
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