Friday, May 28, 2010

Lighting the menorah - whose mitzva?

The possuk in this week’s sedrah says:
וַיְדַבֵּר ה' אֶל מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר. דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה יָאִירוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרוֹת.
Hashem said to Moshe to say; Speak to Aharon and tell him, “When you light the lights [of the menora] you should make them shine towards the centre of the menorah.”

 The possuk seems to say that a cohen, in this case Aharon, should light the menora. The Rambam, however (הלכות ביאת מקדש, פרק תשיעי, הלכה ז'),  says that a non-cohen is allowed to light the menora:
וכן הדלקת הנרות כשירה בזרים לפיכך אם הטיב הכהן את הנרות והוציאן לחוץ מותר לזר להדליקן
“Lighting the lamps is kosher with a non-cohen therefore if the cohen prepared the lamps [in the heichal] and brought the menora into the azara (where a non-cohen is allowed to be) it is mutar for a non-cohen to light them.”

The Ra’avad asks on the Rambam:
אמר אברהם הפליג כשאמר מותר לזר להדליקן אלא שאם הדליקן כשירות
“The Rambam is exagerating when he says that a non-cohen can light them [le’chatchiloh]. Rather the halacha is that if a non-cohen lit them be’dieved then it is kosher.”

 Reb Chaim Soloveitchik z”l (הל' ביאת מקדש פרק ט) explains the Ra’avad’s question as follows:
 Lighting the menora is not an avodah like zerikas hadam. Therefore if a non-cohen lit the menora he would not be chayav misoh as he would be if he did an avodah in the beis hamikdosh.

Nonetheless it is still appropriate for a cohen to light the menora because the passuk says that it should be lit by a cohen:
In this week’s sedrah:
דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ...

At the beginning of parshas tezaveh:
יַעֲרֹךְ אֹתוֹ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו מֵעֶרֶב עַד בֹּקֶר לִפְנֵי ה'...

At the end of parshas tezaveh:
וּבְהַעֲלֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַנֵּרֹת בֵּין הָעֲרְבַּיִם יַקְטִירֶנָּה...

The ra’vaad’s question is; how can the Rambam say that it is le’chatchilah for a non-cohen to light it because it is not an avodah. This does not fit in with the way the mitzva is commanded in the pessukim?

Hatavas ha’neros
In addition to lighting the menora – the Torah at the end of Parshas Tezaveh also says that the cohanim should do hatovas haneros:
וְהִקְטִיר עָלָיו אַהֲרֹן קְטֹרֶת סַמִּים בַּבֹּקֶר בַּבֹּקֶר בְּהֵיטִיבוֹ אֶת הַנֵּרֹת יַקְטִירֶנָּה. וּבְהַעֲלֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַנֵּרֹת בֵּין הָעֲרְבַּיִם יַקְטִירֶנָּה...

“Aharon should burn the ketores on the mizbeach hazahav every morning, when he takes care of the lamps he should burn it.  And when Aharon lights the lamps in the evening he should burn it…”

 The cohen would do hatovas haneros in the morning and light the menora in the evening.There is a machlokess what hatavas haneros means:
Most of the mephorshim (rashi, the rashba and unkelos) say that hatavas haneros means making the lamps ready to be lit again. The cohen would remove the old wick and the remaining oil, clean the lamp and then fill the lamp with half a log of oil and put the new wick in place.
 The Rambam (הל' תמידין ומוספין ג׃י"ב), on the other hand, says that hatavas ha’neros means lighting the menora:
מהו דישון המנורה. כל נר שכבה מסיר הפתילה וכל השמן שבנר ומקנחו ונותן בו פתילה אחרת ושמן אחר ...ומדליק נר שכבה. והדלקת הנרות היא הטבתם...
“What is dishun ha’menora? For any lamp that went out the cohen would remove the wick and all the oil in the lamp and clean it and put in a new wick and oil…and he would light the lamp that had extinguished. Lighting the lamps is hatavas haneros.”

The opinion of the Rambam is a chiddush, according to the Rambam, the menorah burnt the whole day and the whole night. According to rashi, unkelos and the rashba, the menora was only lit at night and not by day.

Reb Chaim z”l asks; How can the Rambam say that ha'tavas haneros means that the menora was lit? The Rambam says (hilchos bias mikdash above):
וכן הדלקת הנרות כשירה בזרים לפיכך אם הטיב הכהן את הנרות והוציאן לחוץ מותר לזר להדליקן
“Lighting the lamps is kosher with a non-cohen therefore if the cohen prepared the lamps (hatavas haneros) in the heichal and brought the menora into the azara it is mutar for a non-cohen to light them.”

You see clearly in this Rambam that hatavas ha’neros is not the same thing as lighting the menora? Hatavas ha’neros has to be done by a cohen in the heichal – lighting the menora can be done by a non-cohen in the azara?

What is the mitzvah of lighting the menora?
Reb Chaim explains that, according to the Rambam, the mitzva of the menora is not to light it but rather to make sure that it is lit. This is not the same as the menora on chanuka. On chanuka the halacha is that hadlaka oseh mitzva – the mitzva is to light the menora. Therefore im kavsah ein zakuk loh – if the menora went out, the person who lit it does not need to relight it because they have already done the mitzva by lighting it. For the same reason, if the menora was lit inside and brought outside the person lighting it has not done the mitzva because the main mitzva is lighting it and it was lit it was in the wrong place.

Reb Chaim explains that according to the Rambam the halachos of lighting the menora in the beis ha’mikdash are the other way around. Because the mitzva is that it should burn, if a non-cohen lit the menora in the azara and a cohen brought it into the heichal – the cohen has done the mitzva by bringing it in to the heichal. That is why the Rambam says that lechatchila a non-cohen can light the menora.

This is also the reason that the Rambam can say that hatavas ha'neros means lighting the menora although hatavas ha'neros has to be done by a cohen and lighting the menora (according to the rambam himself) can be done by a non-cohen. When the Rambam says that hatavas ha'neros means lighting the menora he means that hatavas ha'neros means causing the menora to be lit. As long as the cohen is the one who ensures that the menora burns he has done the mitzva of hatavas ha’neros – a yisroel can light the menora because this is not the mitzva.

How does the Rambam read the pessukim?
All of the pessukim in the Torah that refer to lighting the menora do not actually say that the cohen should light the menora:
דַּבֵּר אֶל אַהֲרֹן וְאָמַרְתָּ אֵלָיו בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ...
"Speak to Aharon and tell him when you cause the lights to go up..."

יַעֲרֹךְ אֹתוֹ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו מֵעֶרֶב עַד בֹּקֶר לִפְנֵי ה'...
"Aharon and his sons should arrange it..."

וּבְהַעֲלֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַנֵּרֹת בֵּין הָעֲרְבַּיִם יַקְטִירֶנָּה
"When Aharon raises the lights in the evening..."

All of these pessukim imply that the cohen is responsible for the continued burning of the menorah ("the lights should go up" or "the lights should be arranged") but they do not instruct the cohen to light the menora. The Rambam transalates the pessukim as they are written - the mitzva is that the lights should go up and they should be arranged - but lighting the menora initially is not the mitzva.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Table of Contents