Greetings. I have wondered why discussions about the Chanukah candles do not seem to point out that the basic mitzvah is simply to light one candle every night. Why do discussions focus on halachas of the hiddur of increasing the candles every night without emphasizing that this is purely a hiddur? And why do we apply the debate between Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai when their debate did not relate to lighting at home with more than one candle as a hiddur, but only how it was done in the Temple? Many poskim have accepted that the mitzvah of lighting at home only started after the chorban. Thanks.
David Goldman, USA
The Gemara starts by saying that the minimum requirement is one candle per night, but then discusses the mehadrin custom. Rambam also quotes the Gemara's minimum requirement (Hilchos Chanukah 4:1) and so does the Shulchan Arukh (671:2). So I'm not quite sure why you feel that only the mehadrin is discussed. If you are referring to other discussions, they may center on mehadrin due to the dispute between the poskim as to how to perform the Mehadrin min ha'mehadrin- see Shulchan Arukh ibid.
The Beis Halevi offers an explanation why in this Mitzvah the mehadrin is the central factor, since the miracle came about due to mehadrin. He argues that when they lacked oil they could have made the wicks thinner and used an eighth of the oil, but they wished to do a hiddur and merited a special miracle.
Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel may argue about how it was done in the Temple, but the rabbis endeavored to establish the lighting at home based on the temple practices, so their argument has ramifications for us as well. (Beis Halevi finds cases where the argument is applicable nowadays.)