Thoughts from Kollel KLAL


The Gemara brings, the Bais Chashmona’im overpowered the Yevanim and they found one jug of oil which lit for eight nights. The Chachamim instituted a Yom Tov with hallel and hod’ah, with giving praise and thanks. Rashi explains hallel refers to saying whole hallel, and hod’ah refers to saying al hanisim. The reason why al hanisim is mentioned in shemonah esrey by the bracha of hoda’ah is because the entire essence of Chanukah was set up for giving thanks. In benching as weel al hanisim is said in the bracha of hoda’ah.

The Smag brings, if a bachelor travels on the road during Chanukah, and he won’t end up lighting himself, he should still make the berachos of שעשה נסים and שהחיינו when he sees another person’s Chanukah candles. However if a married person travels, since his wife lights for him, he does not make a bracha when he sees another person’s Chanukah candles. Avi Mori shlita asked b’shem the Bach, true, his wife lit for him, but that only exempts his monetary obligation on his house to publicize the miracle. However he should be obligated to make his own berachos as he still has an obligation on his body to give thanks and say שהחיינו. Therefore the Bach says, even a married person who travels is obligated to make these berachos if he does not light himself. We see that all the mitzvos of Chanukah, including saying al hanisim, hallel, and even lighting Chanukah candles are all for the purpose to give thanks and praise to Hashem.

The halacha is if one forgot to mention retzei in benching he must go back, however if one forgot to mention al hanisim in shemonah esray or in benching, he does not go back. Why is this? The Mishnah Berurah explains Shabbos is d’oraisa and retzei was added as part of the text of the beracha, so one is required to go back and mention the Shabbos day. Chanukah however is d’rabanan, therefore they did not instate al hanisim as part of the text of the beracha, and one does not go back.

Rashi brings b’shem Rebbi Yishmael, all the times the word אם is stated in the Torah, they are optional, aside for three times where it is a mitzvah. One example is bringing the omer offering by which it states ואם תקריב מנחת בכורים”.” Why does it state אם if, which seems optional, and not as an obligation? The Maharal brings b’shem the Midrash, Hashem brings up the clouds, and brings down rain and dew. He causes the ground to grow produce and fruits. We give Hashem the omer, the first of our cuttings, in order to express our appreciation for all that Hashem did. One needs to give thanks with his heart and feeling, not out of being forced. This is unlike a king of flesh and blood who forces people to accept his kingdom whether he wants to or not. A person needs to give thanks that everything is from Hashem Who gave him what he has. If he thanks out of force, only to fulfill the decree of the king, it is not appreciation. Therefore the Torah states אם, if, as though it is optional, even though it is actually an obligation.

Chazal instituted the saying of al hanisim in hoda’ah, in order to express our appreciation for the miracles of winning the war against the Yevanim. One must recognize and feel appreciation for the tremendous kindness Hashem performed for us, and express it in al hanisim. If one forgets al hanisim, Chazal did not make him go back to thank Hashem, as it would be as though he is thanking Hashem forcefully.

May we recognize and feel Hashem’s kindness and express our gratitude to Him.

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