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Halacha Sources: Halachos of Chanukah pre-release

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Table of Contents

The complete text (222 pages)
Introduction (7 pages)
Translations of Central Quotations (more literally) (30 pages)
Glossaries (regular and 'Principles') (6 pages)
Bibliography (5 pages)
Subject Index (3 pages)

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Sample material from Halacha Sources: The Halachos of Birkas HaChamah
(some points are clarified further in the actual text)


As quoted earlier, the Shulchan Aruch ruled like the Rambam, who wrote that the bracha is said "in the morning". The most straightforward application of this would appear to be what it says in the Sefer HaMinhagim of the Maharilº, that on the night before the day of "Birkas HaChamah", the Maharil told the the "attendant" of the city to announce in the synagogue: "Tomorrow (by day), each person should be careful that when he sees the sunrise, he should then say the bracha." However, two issues can be raised: (1) Is it better to say the bracha slightly later, if that will make it possible to say it together with more people? (2) What is in fact the latest time to say the bracha?

Concerning saying it with more people, the Sha'arei Teshuvah cites the Chidaº: "A number of sources support the minhag of saying the bracha with a gathering of Jews, after Shacharis, because of [the concept] 'Glory of a king is in the multitude of the people' ('Berov am hadras melech'), and by arguing that if this is the minhag by Kiddush Levanah1 , then all the more so regarding this bracha which carries the preciousness of one who comes [only] at [special] intervals.2 [However,] I hold that someone who hurries to say the bracha when he sees the sunrise - it's better that he says the bracha alone than it is to postpone it until after the prayer [service] and to say the bracha with [a quorum of] ten. For that's only a minhag which recent authorities instituted in order to have a 'gathering', and it's clear from the Gemara (Rosh HaShanah 32b) that [the ideal of] 'hurrying' [Mitzvahs] outweighs having a 'gathering'." In practice, the Mishnah Berurah writes that "it's best" to follow the minhag of having a "multitude". (In the Sha'ar HaTziyun, he refers to a responsum of the Chasam Sofer, where he expresses this position, but also says that on a cloudy day, one should say the bracha - even if alone - as soon as one sees the sun.)

As for the latest time, the Magen Avrahamº says that the time-period [i.e. the Rambam's language of "in the morning"] ends after three hours, because afterwards "it [i.e. the sun] has already passed from this place." A number of authorities have struggled with this position, which is especially difficult because the sun's position on Wednesday morning should have nothing to do with Birkas HaChamah at all. (Remember, the Gemara made reference to the seven-hour cycle, and scheduled Birkas HaChamah for the day when the "tekufah" of Nissan begins at the first hour of Tuesday night.) The Mishnah Berurah rules like other authorities, who conclude that the most the Rambam could have intended to limit the time-period is that "the morning" means before Halachic noon (i.e. even if difficult circumstances force someone to delay until after three hours, he may nevertheless say the bracha - even with "Hashem's Name and Kingship" - until noon).

  1. If it is feasible, at least ten (or three) men should gather to say Kiddush Levanah (Bi'ur Halacha to 426:2).
  2. This sentence combines two parts, which the Chida cites from two separate sources: (1) An Ashkenazi responsum (from approximately the year 1600) which mentions the minhag of gathering after Shacharis, and (2) A commentary (from the 1700's) which compares our "precious" bracha to Kiddush Levanah.

º see Bibliography O.C. = volume Orach Chayim (of Shulchan Aruch, etc.)