There are many strategies to introduce newcomers to the excitement, meaning and depth of Chanukah. One approach is by teaching the Talmudic discussions addressing the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah menorah. Learning Gemara with newcomers to Judaism is a vital step to help empower them to become active participants in the Mesorah.
The NLE Thinking Gemara shiur on Chanukah can assist rabbis, educators and outreach professionals to engage students with little Jewish background in Gemara study. The shiur poses a series of cases addressed by a guided presentation of the sugiya by Gemaras, Rishonim and Achronim using English – Hebrew (menukad) sources.
The Gemara shiur examines the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles through the three levels of its performance: 1) the core mitzvah, 2) Mehadrin and 3) Mehadrin Min Hamehadrin. Through studying commentaries on the passage, we will uncover two major conceptual discussions that began in the twelfth century and continue to the present day.
Aside from analyzing the three levels on which the mitzvah of lighting candles can be performed, we will also examine the difference in custom between Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.
This shiur will address the following questions:
- Who is obligated in the mitzvah of Chanukah candles?
- What is the practical difference between how Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews light Chanukah candles?
- What are the sources in Talmudic literature for this difference, and what are its conceptual roots?
- Why do we add an extra candle every day of Chanukah – as opposed to lighting just one every day, eight every day, or starting with eight and finishing with one?