Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hadlakah/Hanacha Oseh Mitzveh

The gemara in Shabbos 23a discusses whether the lighting of ner chanukah is the mitzvah (hadlakah oseh mitzvah) or the placing of the neiros is the mitzvah (hanacha oseh mitzvah).

The gemara there comes out with an interesting distinction within the possibility that hanacha oseh mitzvah. If a cheresh, shoteh, v'katan were to light the menorah, then one could place the menorah down (hanacha) and fulfill the mitzvah. However, if the menorah has been lit all day one would have to extinguish, relight, and then place down the menorah to fulfill the mitzvah. Tosafos ask, why the distinction? Why in the second case must one relight the menorah if the mitzvah is really fulfilled by placement?

Tosafos answers that by an already lit menorah it was not clearly lit for Chanukah, whereas by a menorah lit by a cheresh, shoteh, v'katan it was clearly lit for Chanukah.

The question remains, what do Tosafos mean? If hanacha oseh mitzvah, what difference does the hadlakah make at all?

Perhaps Tosafos mean to say that even if one holds hanacha oseh mitzvah, the placement must be a placement of "ner chanukah" as opposed to a placement of "stam neiros". Although the cheresh, shoteh, v'katan cannot fulfill the mitzvah of ner chanukah, than can at least perform a hadlakah as a hechsher for the mitzvah. This lighting allows the lit candles to have a challos shem of "ner chanukah". According to the shitah that hanacha oseh mitzvah, one must only place these ner chanukah down properly to fulfill the mitzvah. By neiros that were already lit (not for chanukah), the neiros are considered stam neiros and their proper placement would not constitute a mitzvah.