By: Steve Kirschenbaum
The beginning of the Parsha contains the lighting of the Menorah. The Rambam in Hilchos Bi’as
HaMikdash 9:7 (which is in the Avodah section) teaches הטיב אם לפיכך בזרים כשירה הנרות הדלקת וכן
להדליקן לזר מותר לחוץ והוציאן הנרות את הכהן that if a Zar (a non-Kohen) lights the Menorah, it’s
Kasher. This is based on the Gemara Yoma 24b that teaches that היא עבודה לאו הדלקה, lighting the
Menorah is not an Avodah of the Beis HaMikdash. Based on this, the Rambam rules it’s Kasher
B’zar. The Raavad argues with the Rambam that it says in our Behaaloscha 8:2 that the Kohen
must light the Menorah. While it might be true that B’dieved the lighting by a Yisrael is Kasher,
but certainly to say L’chatchila, as the Rambam says, that anybody is allowed to light the
Menorah, the Raavad disagrees with this notion.
Reb Chaim Brisker comes to explain the source of the Rambam’s Chiddush that even L’chatchila
a non-Kohen is permitted to perform the lighting of the Menorah. To do that, we need to be
Makdim with different Machlokes.
The lighting of the Menorah. When is it a Mitzvah to light the Menorah? The Ramban holds that
every day the Menorah was lit and whenever it extinguished, that’s when it went out. You light
the Menorah, it burned for a period of time, and it would then burn out. Then, at the appropriate
time the following day again, according to the Seder HaYom, there was a lighting of the
Menorah. This is the way the Ramban learns, and this is the way most understand it.
According to the Ramban, the obligation of ‘Lifnei HaShem Tamid,’ which is brought down in
Vayikra 24:4, that there must always be a Menorah lit in the Beis HaMikdash on a permanent
basis, ‘Tamid’ – always — means every single day. The Rambam in Hilchos Temidim U’musafin
3:12 (which is also in the Avodah section) disagrees. The Rambam learns that the Menorah in
the Beis HaMikdash must be lit Tamid Mamesh; the flames of the Menorah must be burning on a
constant basis. Not just the Ner HaMaravi, but every single flame had to constantly be burning.
If and when one of the flames would become extinguished, the Kohen would have a Mitzvah at
that moment to go and rekindle it; in theory, it was possible to light the Menorah many times a
day. If for whatever reason a flame became extinguished, it was a Mitzvah to rekindle it. Lifnei
HaShem Tamid means it must be lit at all times according to the Rambam.
Reb Chaim explains the Machlokes between the Ramban and Rambam. The Ramban holds that
the Mitzvah is to light the Menorah. Behaaloscha Es HaNeiros. Since the Mitzvah is to light the
Menorah, so it’s a defined Mitzvah. When do you light it? Once a day every day. The Rambam
on the other hand understands that the Mitzvah is not the act of lighting the Menorah, but rather
there is a Mitzvah to see to it that the Menorah be lit in the Beis HaMikdash; the Mitzvah is the
Toeles, the outcome of the lighting. The act of lighting according to the Rambam is only a
Hechsher Mitzvah, a preparation for the Mitzvah. The Mitzvah is the outcome that the Menorah
be lit in the Mikdash. So, the Ramban holds that the Maiseh Hadlaka is the Mitzvah and the
Rambam holds that the Mitzvah is the outcome, that the Menorah should be lit in the Mikdash.
Once it’s lit, that outcome is the Mitzvah. Of course, the Rambam will learn that that’s the Pshat
in the Gemara Yoma 24b that says that היא עבודה לאו הדלקה, lighting the Menorah is not an
Avodah; why is it not an Avodah? The reason is there’s no obligation to light the Menorah per
se; the obligation is to have a lit Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash. The obligation is to ensure that
it’s lit. Therefore, the Rambam holds that the flame must be burning on a constant basis.
Says Reb Chaim, this explains why the Rambam holds that the lighting of the Menorah is Kasher
B’zar; it can be done by a non-Kohen and not only that, but it’s Kasher B’chutz. If the Menorah
was lit outside the Mishkan, and it gets carried in and is then placed in the Mishkan, that is
Kasher as well. For this reason according to the Rambam, the lighting of the Menorah has no set
time. Whenever you light, that’s acceptable.
In sum, the Rambam holds that the lighting is not a Maiseh Mitzvah and therefore, it can be done
at any time and at any place by any person. The Mitzvah is only to ensure that it be lit at the
place where it is. Ad Kan Divrei Reb Chaim.
Of course, Reb Chaim is saying a tremendous Chiddush because on Chanukah we say Hadlakah
Oseh Mitzvah, that the act of lighting is the Mitzvah. Whenever it becomes extinguished is
irrelevant. However here, we’re saying according to the Rambam, imagine that the original
Menorah in the Beis HaMikdash was Ein Hadlakah Oseh Mitzvah, but rather Hanacha Oseh
Mitzvah, the fact that it’s there is the Mitzvah. It’s a novel Shitta of the Rambam, but a beautiful
Reb Chaim in tying together the different Nikudos of the Shittas HaRambam regarding the
lighting of the Menorah.