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The Halachah Of The Future

Rabbi Dovid Sussman

How many candles do we light on the first night of Chanukah? Seems easy, right? Same for which blessing we recite first in Havdalah — the one on fire, or the one on besamim. In this fascinating look into the future, we find out that much of what we are used to doing will be subject to change with Mashiach’s arrival.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Shmuel’s grip tightened on the shopping bag in his hand as he raced through the teeming streets of Jerusalem. It was getting close to shkiyah, and he wasn’t entirely certain he would make it home in time to light the Chanukah candles. The plastic bottle of olive oil in the bag knocked against his leg repeatedly as he hurried down the street, mentally kicking himself for not having purchased enough oil beforehand. Now he might disappoint his family, who had been waiting eagerly for hadlakas neiros on the first night of Chanukah ever since their arrival in Eretz Yisrael only a few weeks earlier.

Breathing heavily, Shmuel rounded a corner and was relieved to spot his apartment building only a short distance away. Shmuel quickly covered the remaining distance to the building, then took the stairs two at a time and burst through his front door, gasping for breath. His wife greeted him with a smile and motioned to the gleaming silver menorah, which was standing gracefully beside the large window.

Shmuel swallowed a couple of times as he approached the menorah. What he was about to do felt so strange, but it was the halachah nonetheless. He had checked three times with his rav, who was still recovering from his own abrupt transition to Eretz Yisrael, but he had still been fairly clear about the psak.

Shmuel shook his head in wonder. Just a few weeks earlier, he had been living in a sprawling home in Monsey, practicing law during the day and struggling to keep up with Daf Yomi at night. Then everything had happened in a blur. Suddenly, Mashiach had come — for real! — and before he knew it, he was on his way to Eretz Yisrael, along with his family. They had been fortunate to secure an apartment in Jerusalem, within walking distance of the newly rebuilt Beis HaMikdash — and there they had begun an entirely new life, in an entirely new world.

It was the first Chanukah since Mashiach’s arrival, and that was the main reason that Shmuel had forgotten to purchase enough oil for the first night.

With another shake of his head, Shmuel quickly opened the bottle of olive oil and began filling the glass cups on the menorah as the sun dipped ever closer to the horizon. In accordance with the opinion of Beis Shammai, he filled all eight cups of the menorah, as well as the shamash. Tonight, the first night of Chanukah, they would light all eight lights, and on each successive night, they would subtract one light, so that they would be left lighting only a single cup of oil on the last night of Chanukah. Now that Mashiach had come, the halachah had begun to follow the rulings of Beis Shammai. Shmuel would simply have to adjust to the new reality.


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