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Friday, December 11, 2009

When to Make Havdala on Chanukah

Coming into Shabbos Chanukah, one must first light the menorah, and then Shabbos candles. The logic is straightforward – once you have accepted Shabbos you can no longer light the Chanukah candles. It would seem sensible that on Motzai Shabbos the order would be reversed. First make Havdalah and close out Shabbos and then light the menorah. This is however not so simple, as we shall see.

Counter intuitively; the Shulchan Aruch (OC 681:2) simply states that in shul the menorah should be lit before Havdalah is made. The Rema adds that at home one should definitely do so because he has already made Havdalah, and thus ended Shabbos, in Shul. Concurring with the Rema is the Elyah Rabbah, Magen Avrohom, Vilna Gaon, Chemed Moshe, Beis Meir (who brings a proof from the Yerushalmi), and the Yaavetz. In fact the Yaavetz quotes his father, the Chacham Tzvi, as having laughed at those who lit Chanukah candles before Havdalah. He writes that his personal conclusion was that one should indeed light the Menorah first, and in his responsa he refutes the opposing proofs.

The Mishna Berura explains:  Although there is a general principle that when presented with two mitzvos one should do the more frequent one first, when it comes to leaving Shabbos we want to delay it as much as possible. The Beis Shearim (OC 396) contrasts this with the idea of ‘zrizim makdimim l’mitzvos’ that one should rush to do a mitzvah to show how beloved it is, so too one should be hesitant to end Shabbos thus showing how precious it is.
The Maharal writes that one should make Havdala first, out of concern that he may forget to say Havdalah earlier (in the Amidah, or by saying Baruch Hamavdil Bein Kodesh Lchol). He will then wind up lighting the Menorah before he has personally ended Shabbos. Thus, to be safe, one should make Havdalah first. This is also the opinion of the Taz, Malbushei Yom Tov, Pri Chadash and Derech Chaim.  Although the Maharal extends his line of reasoning to the Shul lighting as well, the others who concur with him limit it to lighting at home (thereby only arguing with the Rema and not with the Shulchan Aruch).

In response to the Mishna Berura’s explanation that we want to delay leaving the Shabbos the Pri Chadash writes: As soon as one does Melocha such as lighting candles he has de facto ushered out Shabbos and therefore may as well have made Havdala. The Elyah Rabba responds, that until one makes Havdala over wine, even if they have recited ‘Boruch Hamavdil’ and done Melocha, there are still remnants of the holiness of Shabbos.

There is an additional rationale to lighting the Menorah first. In theory one can make Havdala all night, but the Menorah ideally must be lit right when it gets dark. Once the hour is such that people are no longer found in the street, one may very possibly have forfeited the mitzvah to light the Menorah. Therefore, say the Avnei Nezer and the Yaavetz, one should immediately light the menorah before Havdala.

The Mishna Berura concludes that in Shul one should follow the Shulchon Aruch and light the Menorah first, at home there is Halachic legitimacy to both sides of the argument and either way is alright.

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Posted on 12/11 at 07:51 AM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaberRabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber spent his childhood globetrotting with his family. His pioneering spirit first surfaced in Melbourne, Australia, where he was excited to be a member of the opening class of Mesivta Bnei Torah. From Australia the Haber family settled down in Monsey, NY. Ever the maverick, Tzvi promptly left home to study in Yeshiva Ohr Hameir in Peekskill, where he became a mainstay of the Yeshiva, and inspired his younger brothers as well as several friends from the Mesivta in Melbourne to follow him. He then joined his chaburah in Jerusalem, first at the Mir Yeshiva and then at the Bais Medrash of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a senior scion of the famed Brisk dynasty. As his globetrotting family returned to Jerusalem, Tzvi returned to the US, to freeze in the famed, yet comparatively chilled Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.

 In 2004 he met his wife, Suzanne Schor, a native of the warmer Los Angeles climate, and the couple settled in Lakewood, where he focused his pioneering and independent strengths on the study of Halacha, or Jewish law. His innovative spirit and innate ability to help others seeking to clarify the finer points of Judaism and integrate them into their daily lives inspired his decision to commute daily from Lakewood to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in order to bask in the day to day exposure to the world renowned Posek, HaRav David Feinstein. The daily commute was more than compensated for when he received Semicha from Rav Feinstien and the Kollel L’Torah U’lhorah (a division of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem) in Tamuz 5768, June 2008.

In August 2009, the Habers moved west, heading toward Los Angeles where Rabbi Haber joined the LINK-LA Kollel. After being an active member of the Kollel for several years, he joined the business world, however he is still actively involved in teaching and learning in LA.

Actively involved in all aspects of TorahLab, Tzvi has taken upon himself a quasi-role as administrator of quality control and has effectively improved and upgraded many of the smaller yet vital details involved in our site. His advice is eagerly sought and gracefully given.

Rabbi Haber is now living in the La Brea section of Los Angeles with his wonderful family. He can be contacted at tzvi@torahlab.org