Rabosai, can anyone explain something to me:
How can a braisa in Shabbos 23 claim that lighting MORE CANDLES on every night of Chanukah is a hidur on the mitzvah itself? The "mitzvah" is to light a candle. There is no extra benefit to lighting more candles. A hidur would apply to THE THING ITSELF. Like a hiddur on an esrog is to have a pitom. Or a hiddur on the lulav is to have it closed. Or a hiddur on hadasim to have the tops touch the bottoms of the next leaves. A hiddur for the candles would be using the purest olive oil which of course would cost more money. Or perhaps MORE olive oil for the candle, but MORE CANDLES is not a hiddur......
PLUS, how could Masechtes Taanis claim that Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel argued over the lighting of candles if the mitzva of lighting candles every night according to the hiddur only began AFTER the chorban since Bais Shammai and Bais Hillel didn't exist after the chorban....
And regarding hiddur, how often are we told that we must perform the mitzvah MEHUDAR lechatchila and not simply the basic mitzvah!?! Isn't it correct for poskim to say like the braisa itself: "A person should light one candle a night. Those who like hiddurim add more" but that this is not obligatory."
One could not say that a Jew who only lights one candle is not fulfilling the obligation. Saying so would be bal tosif.
And since the concept of "pirsum haness" is only Rashi's position and not stated even by a braisa, then presumably Jews who cannot fulfill that requirement are exempt or oyness, which would involve many many Jews throughout history, unless this interpretation of Rashi is abandoned (which it apparently was because of the view that "social circumstances have changed.....")
David Goldman, USA
1) The Beraisa on 21a tells us that the basic Mitzvah of Chanukah is that every house should have one candle alight in it on every night. Then the Beraisa starts teling us about the Din of Mehadrin: Every member of the house lights one candle every night. So if there are, for example, six people living in the house, there will be six candles alight every evening in a Mehadrin household.
I think it is possible to understand why this is a Hidur. The six people in the house could have left it to the head of the family to light a candle every night. Instead, the six decided that they want a more active part in the Mitzvah, so they each decided to light themselves. This shows a greater love for the Mitzvah.
2) The miracles of the Chashmona'im defeating the Greeks, and of the oil lasting for eight days, occurred in the time of the second Beis ha'Mikdash. Shamai and Hillel also lived in the time of the second Beis ha'Mikdash. However, the Chashmona'im's revolt took place between 167 and 160 before the common era, while Hillel was born 103 years before the common era. In other words, the Chashmona'im miracles took place about 60 years before Hillel was born.
3) One must conceed that there is something special about Chanukah where everyone seems to do the Hidur Mitzvah of adding a candle every night, even though they are not actually required to so.
Some explain that the reason everyone is so eager to do Hidur on Chanukah is because, right from the beginning, there was an element of Hidur in the story. When they found that all of the oil had been defiled by the Greeks, they could have employed the Halachah that if the majority of the people have become Tamei then we say "Tum'ah Hutrah b'Tzibur" -- Tumah gets a special Heter when the entire community is Tamei. So they could have lighted the Tamei oil. Instead, they tried to be Mehadrin, to do more than they were required, and they went looking for pure oil. Hash-m rewarded them with a miracle. In return for this, many Jews decide to do on Chanukah more than they are actually required to do.
4) Rashi is not the first one to mention Pirsum ha'Nes. The Gemara below (23b) mentioned it when we had the question concerning the person who only has enough money either to buy wine for Kidush on Shabbos Chanukah, or oil for the Chanukah candles. Which is more important? The Gemara concluded that the Mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah candles is preferable because of Pirsumei Nisa.
5) I argue that any Jew nowadays can fulfill the requirement of Pirsum ha'Nes. He does this by going to a synagogue where they light Chanukah candles. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 771:7) states that one lights in the synagogue with a Beracha because of Pirsumei Nisa. My argument is that it is not only the Gabai of the shul (who lights the candles) who fulfills the Mitzvah of Pirsumei Nisa. Rather, everyone in the community fulfills Pirsum ha'Nes, because if every individual would not attend shul, they would not be able to light in shul. Every member is fulfilling Pirsumei Nisa by being part of the community which lights.