Parshas Vayeitzei 5777
Candle Lighting Time: 4:17 pm
December 9, 2016
Volume 13 Issue 6
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Dvar Torah

Grateful For Everything
  By Rabbi Yedidya Kaganoff

"This time I will thank Hashem, therefore, she called him Yehuda."  Our matriarch, Leah, made this beautiful declaration in this week's Parsha on the birth of her fourth child, Yehuda. Our sages, in Gemora Brachos 7b, make a surprising observation on this verse. They comment that Leah was the first to thank Hashem. The Ksav Sofer asks the obvious question. Was Leah really the first one to thank Hashem for the good things that occurred to her? Our forefathers certainly brought countless sacrifices acknowledging and thanking Hashem for all the blessings He bestowed upon them!

This question can be answered with a Gemora in Shabbos 118b, which states, "One who says Hallel every day is as if he's cursing Hashem." Why should someone, who is praising Hashem every day be compared to one who is cursing Hashem?  The Ksav Sofer gives a beautiful explanation that teaches us a powerful lesson. Although we, as G-d fearing Jews, need to thank Hashem for the great miracles, we also need to thank Him for the myriad daily tasks that we are able to perform. Human nature is such that we tend to take the performance of all these daily tasks for granted. The basic functions of daily life, being able to walk, talk, and eat, are accomplishments that should never be considered ordinary. A blind man, who upon being gifted the ability to see, will be extremely appreciative and grateful for that gift. So, too, we are obligated to be grateful for our ability to function every moment of the day. Even though something may appear like "teva," a natural occurrence, it is only through Hashem giving us the ability to do this action that we can accomplish it. 

With this concept, we can now return and understand the Gemora in Shabbos. Of course, we are always encouraged to praise Hashem, a noteworthy endeavor.  However, Hallel was composed to sing praises to Hashem for His great miracles.  Reciting only Hallel every day is equivalent to praising Him specifically for His great miracles and excluding His due praise for the ongoing miracles which, in reality, occur through every breath of life. This concept is reiterated daily in Shacharis, when we say in Pesukei D'Zimra, "for every breath we praise You Hashem." Even for a mundane act such as breathing we constantly thank Hashem.

Leah, in naming her fourth child Yehuda, publicly declared her thanks to the Almighty for a seemingly natural occurrence like childbirth. Every time Leah said her son's name, she was constantly reminded that all blessings come from the Almighty, whether they are in the form of super natural miracles or every day miracles, like childbirth. This is what was extremely unique about Leah's expression of thanks. Our sages observe that Leah was the first to thank Hashem. Even though there were open miracles being performed by Hashem for Leah's generation, thanking Hashem for the seemingly ordinary occurrence of childbirth was a very worthy deed. May the lesson that Leah taught us serve as an inspiration to appreciate all the wonderful gifts and blessings that Hashem constantly showers on us.

Dvar Halacha
Laws of Chanuka
By Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi
If a candle extinguished unintentionally, one is not required to relight it, since the lighting is the fulfillment of the mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch 673:2).  However this is only true if the candle had the ability to stay lit for the proper amount of time [i.e. it was set up with enough oil and in a place where it was not likely it would blow out] (Shulchan Aruch 673:2 & 675:2 & Be'ur Halachah 673:2 s.v. im kuvtzu).  If one of the candles went out while one was in the middle of lighting, it is proper to relight it (Be'ur Halacha 673:2 s.v. im kuvtzu).  If one extinguished a candle intentionally, one is required to relight that candle [without a brachah] (Shaar HaTziyon 673:32).  If in the middle of lighting, one of the candles extinguished, one may relight it even though he has not completed lighting all the candles (Koveitz Halachos 5:9).
Beginning thirty minutes before the time to light the menorah, it is prohibited to be eat a seudah [which means eating either hamotzei or a k'beitzah of pas haba bekisnin], learn, or get involved in any melachah which can be very time consuming.  The reason being, Chazal were afraid that one may get distracted and forget to light in the proper time (Mishneh Berurah 672:10).  Additionally, one should not go to sleep (Koveitz Halachos 2:1).
There is a machlokes haposkim if women who are fulfilling their obligation with their husbands' lighting are prohibited from these activities.  Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt"l, holds that they are also prohibited (Halichos Shlomo Moadim vol. 1 16:3), however Harav Shmuel Wosner, zt"l (Shloshim Yom Kodem Hachag pg. 265 ftnt. 42) & ybl"c Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a (Koveitz Halachos 2:5) disagree.
Preferably one should not light neiros Chanukah while it is still day, since it is not as recognizable that he is lighting for the mitzvah.  If one is preoccupied [and he will not have any time to light later], then b'dieved one may light from plag haminchah (Shulchan Aruch 672:1).
The Gemara [Shabbos 21b] says that the preferred time to light neiros Chanukah is at "shkiyas hachamah", in order that the candles are lit at the time when people are still outside which creates more parsumei neisa (publicizing the miracle).  In halachah, there are different times that could be known as "shkiyas hachamah"  (see Gemara Shabbos 34b- 35a, Gemara Pesachim 94a and Tosfos Shabbos 35a s.v. trei there are different parts of shkiyah- beginning, end, etc.).  In regards to lighting Chanuka candles, there is a machlokes which time the Gemara is referring to.  The different opinions are; shkiyah (sunset)(Gr"a quoted in Mishneh Berurah 672:1), 15 minutes before tzais hakochavim (nightfall)(Mishneh Berurah 672:1), or tzais hakochavim (Shulchan Aruch 672:1).  In Chutz L'aretz there is no universally accepted minhag and there are differing opinions as what to do [i.e. what would be the best time to time to try to be yotzei all the opinions].  Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, held that one should light 10 minutes after shkiyah (Igros Moshe OC 4:101:6).  Harav Aharon Kotler, zt"l, held 25 minutes after shkiyah (Shu"T Az Nid'baru 7:70).  The opinion of Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a, is to light approximately 20-30 minutes after shkiyah (Koveitz Halachos 3:1 & ftnt. 2).
The Gemara [Shabbos 21b] writes that if someone for whatever reason [i.e. whether on purpose or by accident] did not light the menorah during the proper time, he may [preferably] light until the time of "ad shetichleh regel min hashuk" (that people are coming home- i.e. people are still commonly found outside), because this is still parsumei neisa.  As an aside, this means at the time that most people have finished coming home from work even if they plan on going out again later (Shu"T Teshuvos V'hanhagos 2:342:4).  The Shulchan Aruch [672:2] rules this is approximately 30 minutes after tzais hakochavim.  However according to the reasoning that the time of "ad shetichla regel min hashuk" is later, this would affect two halachos, both as a leniency and as stringency.  The leniency is that the preferred time to light is extended until people practically are returning home.  The stringency is, one is supposed to have enough oil to last until that time.  Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a, holds there is no obligation to have one's neiros lit until people are returning home, however it is parsumei neisa to have them lit for that long (Koveitz Halachos 3:2).  Therefore, if one is going out to a Chanukah party, as long as it was lit for 30 minutes, one may blow them out even though people are still coming home.

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