Parshas Chayei Sara 5777
Candle Lighting Time: 4:20 pm
November 24, 2016
Volume 13 Issue 4
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Dvar Torah

Better With Age
  By Rabbi Eliyahu Breiner

In this week's Parsha we find a very interesting verse: "And Avraham was old, well along in his days." This description of our Forefather Avraham sounds almost derogatory. How can the Torah call Avraham an "old man"?

We find in the Gemarah Bava Metziah, that until Avraham, the concept of aging did not exist. The Maharsha explains that although people grew older in years, there were no physical signs of aging such as hair turning white. This posed a problem for Avraham. Since he and his son Yitzchok greatly resembled each other, people would confuse them. Therefore Avraham prayed to Hashem to make him look older so that people could tell them apart.

This is surprising! Who among us wouldn't want to look young our whole lives? In today's society, youthful appearance is prized and sought after. Whole industries thrive on this ambition. Why would Avraham want to bring old age upon humanity?
To really understand this, we must first properly understand the tendency among us to glorify youth. Being young is all about potential. A young person has their whole life ahead to accomplish whatever they choose. The elderly, who have lived out most of their life, don't have so much time left or the strength they once had. Elders may look back with regret on the way they lived and think about what could have been. There could be an element of envy of the young and a strong desire to reverse the clock.

This is true mainly if a person has not lived his life to the fullest, and hasn't become the great person God intended him to be. Avraham Avinu, however, was a great Tzaddik - every day was used to grow and perfect himself, to grow closer to his Creator. Every minute was seen as an opportunity for growth, to build on his accomplishments and climb ever higher on the spiritual ladder.

When life is lived in this manner, old age is not an empty time full of regrets. To the contrary, it is glorious, a time to look back on a life well lived, and say, "Look at what I've been able to accomplish. Look at what I have been able to become!" There are no doubts, only the satisfaction of knowing you have fulfilled the purpose of life.

Further, R' Shimshon Pinkus explains, every day a person ages, his avodah is that much greater because he is building on the previous day of growth. When Avraham was 100+ years old, his prayer was an act perfected over a century. Every act of kindness and Torah learning was a culmination of over a hundred years of growth and character perfection. Of this Avraham was proud. Growing old was nothing to run away from, but rather, a badge of honor that marked his many accomplishments. Avraham appreciated that he had used all the life that was now behind him to get where he was that day.

May we all merit to make the most out of each and every day, so that we may grow older with no regrets, and have the satisfaction of knowing that we are living life to its fullest.



 
Dvar Halacha
Laws of Chanuka
By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
 
The Shulchan Aruch [671:1] writes that one must be very careful with lighting neiros Chanukah.  The Gemara [Shabbos 23b] says that anyone who is carefulwith lighting candles will merit children who are talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars).  Rashi [ibid] explains that the candles the Gemara is referring to is both ner Shabbos and ner Chanukah, because by observing these mitzvos one brings the light of Torah into the world.
 
The minimal obligation is that there should be one candle per house, each night.  However, it is "mehadrin min ha'mehadrin"(highest level of mitzvah observance) for each person to light his own menorah with enough candles for each night (Gemara Shabbos 21b & Be'ur Halachah 672:2 s.v. b'lailah).   Practically speaking, if there are two [males] living in one house, each one would individually light their own menorah, with one candle for each night (i.e. each would light one candle on the first night, two candles on the second night, etc.).
 
Both men and women are obligated to light Chanukah candles (Shulchan Aruch 675:3).  The reason women are obligated even though it is a mitzvas asei shehasman grama (time bound positive commandment), is that they too were involved in the neis (miracle) (Mishneh Berurah 675:10).  The minhag is that women fulfill their obligation with the men's lighting (Mishneh Berurah 675:9).  Some Poskim hold that a husband may only fulfill his wife's obligation to light if he is home, or even if he is traveling as long as he is together with her (Harav Eliyashiv zt"l & ybl"c Harav Chaim Kaneivsky, shlit"a quoted in Sefer Shloshim Yom Kodem Hachag pg. 262 ftnt. 27).  If a woman would want to light herself [even if she is together with her husband] she may do so with a brachah [according to Ashkenazic custom] (Shu"T Minchas Shlomo 2:58:2:3 s.v. u'v'misheh brurah [pg. 166]).  There is a machlokes whether a katan shehegiah l'chinuch (child of educational age- approximately 6 years old) is obligated (Shulchan Aruch & Rama 675:3).  The Mishneh Berurah [675:14] rules that regarding a minor it would suffice to light one candle per night.
 
It is permitted to use any type of oil or wicks (Shulchan Aruch 673:1).  However, it is considered mitzvah min hamuvchar (preferable) to use olive oil since it lights better (Rama 673:1).  It is important to note, the mitzvah min hamuvchar is exclusively with olive oil, not other types of oils. Therefore, if one does not have olive oil there is no hiddur with oil over candles (Koveitz Halachos [Piskei Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a] 1:1).  All the neiros should be of the same material [i.e. all candles or all oil] (Mishneh Berurah 673:2).  The shamash may be different than the others (Koveitz Halachos 1:10).  If ready-made neiros light better than neiros one makes oneself, it ispreferable to light the ready-made (Koveitz Halachos 1:ftnt.1).
 
There are various halachos that were established to ensure that it is clear that the reason why one is lighting the menorah is l'sheim mitzvah and not because of personal use, (see Rama 672:2).
 
For example, the Gemara [Shabbos 21b] says one should light at the entranceway to his house.  The reason is because it can be easily seen by people passing by and also shows that it is not for personal use.  The Gemara continues that b'shas hasakana (in times of danger [when people's lives were in danger if they practiced their Judaism]) it is permissible to light the menorah inside on the table [i.e. in a place where it was shielded from public view].  Nowadays, in Chutz La'aretz the minhag is to light inside, however it is still proper to light in front of a window [because there will be parsumei neisa to the people outside] (Mishneh Berurah 671:38).  Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l holds that when lighting inside it is preferable to light by the window or the place there will be the most parsumei neisa, ratherthan to place the menorah within the above mentioned areas (Igros Moshe OC 4:125).  If one is lighting inside, and lives higher than 20 amos from ground level [e.g. in an apartment a few stories up], if there are other buildings that are around the same height in close proximity, one should light by the window (Koveitz Halachos 9:3 ftnt. 3).  If there are no other buildings at that height one does not need to light by the window (Koveitz Halachos 9:3).

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