Parshas Toldos 5777
Candle Lighting Time: 4:17 pm
December 2, 2016
Volume 13 Issue 5
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Dvar Torah

Growth Through Adversity
  By Rabbi Yakir Schechter

We are all familiar with the episode when Yaakov "steals" the berachos from Eisav. However, we may not be familiar with something quite curious.   Uncomfortable with the seemingly devious plan, Rashi tells us that Rivka comforted Yaakov by telling him that she was instructed by Hashem. But if one thinks about it, this seems odd.  The entire plan was in order that Yaakov receive the berachos.  Why did it need to through a scheme?  Moreover, we know that the outstanding trait of Yaakov was truth, as we say in the verse titein Emes L'Yaakov.  Why did it need to be Yaakov who needed to engage in untruthfulness?  Was there no other way for Hashem to arrange for Yaakov to receive the blessings other than "lying"?

Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky z"l explains that if we look back to the ten tests of Avraham, we notice something very interesting. Avraham's strongest trait was righteousness - titein emes l'Yaakov, chesed l'Avraham.  Through spreading the message of monotheism by showing that Hashem acts out of kindness, Avraham himself excelled in that quality. It is specifically for that reason why the tests that he faced were in direct conflict with those traits. For example, when Hashem told him to leave his land and leave his father, not being there for his family was undoubtedly tremendously painful. Similarly, when he was commanded to throw out Hagar their son, he was also tremendously pained because he couldn't be there for his family. And it need not be said that the commandment to sacrifice his son Yitzchak was the pinnacle of going against who he was. Only by overcoming those tests did he reach the heights that he did, to which Hashem said "atah yada'ti ki yirei Elokim atah."

And so it was with Yaakov. In order to reach the level of honesty, fairness and truthfulness that he did, he needed to overcome challenges that stood directly in the way of those traits.  Only once he stood up to the challenge did he become the Ish Emes - the man of truth.

It is always important to remember that when we feel that we are being challenged that it is Hashem who is testing us.  He is doing so in order to bring out the best in us and turn us into the best people that we can be.  With the help of Hashem, having this in mind will help us overcome any challenges that may come are way.

 
Dvar Halacha
Laws of Chanuka
By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
 
Brachos are recited before lighting the menorah (Rama 676:6). Each night two brachos [Lehadlik ner shel Chanukah and She'aseh neisim] are recited (Shulchan Aruch 676:2). The first night one lights, a third brachah [She'hecheeyanu] is also recited. If one forgot to recite the brachah of She'hecheeyanu on the first night he lit, he may recite it on the first night he remembers (Shulchan Aruch 676:1).  Additionally, one should be careful to light immediately [within toch k'dai dibbur (a few seconds)] of reciting the brachos.  The minimum mitzvas hadlakah is to light one candle on each night.  In halachah we have a concept that it is preferable that the one who starts a mitzvah completes it.  Therefore, the one who recited the brachos should light all the candles himself.  If he did not, as long as he lit at least one candle it is not a brachah l'vatalah (Mishneh Berurah 671:48-49).
 
After lighting the first candle the minhag is to recite Ha'neiros hallalu (Mishneh Berurah 676:8 & Aruch Hashulchan 676:8).  Others say, it should be said only after all the candles have been lit (Mishneh Berurah 676:8).  It is important to note, if one talked before lighting at least one candle, this is considered a hefsek (interruption) and he would be required to recite the brachah again before lighting.  Therefore, one has to be very careful not to start saying Ha'neiros hallalu until at least one candle was lit (Koveitz Halachos [Piskei Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a] 6:6).  If a person, after reciting his own brachah but before he lit one candle, answered amen to someone else's brachah on the menorah, this is not considered an interruption and is not required to recite another brachah (Koveitz Halachos 6:9).  As an aside, it is preferable to have in mind while lighting that he is lighting to give thanks and praise to Hashem on the miracle of the war [of the Chashmonaiyim] (Halichos Shlomo Moadim 1:16:9).
 
There are different opinions as to which direction one should light the neiros.  Whichever way one lights he has fulfilled the mitzvah; the difference of opinions is only which way is the most preferable (Mishneh Berurah 676:9 & Be'ur Halacha 676:5 s.v. k'day).   The Gemara [Pesachim 64b] teaches us "ain maveirin al hamitzvos" (we do not "pass over" mitzvos).  Therefore, if one is lighting starting from the left, one should stand towards the left side, as not to pass over candles on the right side (Mishneh Berurah 676:11).   Additionally, a lefty should light with his left hand (Koveitz Halachos 5:4).
 
It is prohibited to use any of the neiros Chanukah for personal use (Shulchan Aruch 673:1) in order that it should be recognizable that these are ner mitzvah (Mishneh Berurah 673:8).  Another reason suggested is that the neiros are lit as a remembrance to the miracle that was done with the menorah of the Bais Hamikdash which was prohibited to use for personal use (Mishneh Berurah 673:8).  In order to avoid using the light, the common custom is to light a shamash , so that if one accidentally does use the light we consider it as if he is using the light of the shamash and not of the mitzvah candles (Shulchan Aruch 673:1).  It is preferable that the shamash be higher than the other candles (Rama 673:1).  One should preferably not use the shamash when it is together with the other candles, for it appears as if he is using the mitzvah candles (Mishneh Berurah 673:15).  It is prohibited to use the neiros starting from the time that they are lit through the time of the mitzvas hadlakah [ad shetichleh regel min hashuk] (Mishneh Berurah 673:21).  It is also prohibited to light other things from the neiros Chanukah (Shulchan Aruch 674:1). One may light other Chanukah candles from the shamash, because since it is the same mitzvah it is not considered a "disgrace" for the mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch 674:1). It is still prohibited to light other neiros shel mitzvah [for example, Shabbos candles] (Mishneh Berurah 674:9).

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