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Thought for the Day: Chanuka Havdala -- A Little More Shabbos Vs. More Frequent Takes Precedence

This is not late for Chanuka 5744, it is early for Chanuka 5775; so there.

The headline of Shulchan Aruch OC 681 advertises the siman as explaining one last detail in the halacha that one may not make any use of Chanuka candles: it is forbidden to use the light of the Chanuka candles even for the havdala ceremony.  The lighting of the havdala candle is to demonstrate that we can now do malacha, but the bracha on the candle cannot be made until we benefit from the light; which, of course, runs afoul of the issur of benefiting from the Chanuka lights.  On the other hand, we could make havdala, then put out the candle and repurpose it into a Chanuka light.  That brings a nice benefit; namely, taking a candle that was already used for one mitzvah (havdala) and now using it for a second mitzvah (Chanuka).  That's when the trouble starts.

While it's always nice, all other things being equal, to use an object for an additional mitzvah; all other things are not usually equal.  In this case we have two competing halachic principles.  On the one hand we have "tadir v'eino tadir, tadir kodem"/when the opportunity arises that two mitzvos need to be done, that mitzvah that is done more frequently goes first.  That would dictate that havdala, which occurs 52 times per year, should precede the Chanuka ceremony, which only occurs once each year.  On the other hand, we have the mitzvah of "mosif min ha'chol al ha'kodesh"/to extend the k'dusha of Shabbos into the week.

You may be wondering how you have extended the k'dusha of Shabbos into the week even though your lighting of the Chanuka lights clearly shows that we certainly aren't in Shabbos anymore, Toto.  The Eliyahu Raba explains that a "rei'ach k'dushas nishmas ha'shabbos"/an aroma of the holiness of the soul of Shabbos persists until one drinks the havdala wine.  R' Moshe Feinstein explains that it is rather an issue of kavod Shabbos; delaying havdala demonstrates a heightened level of respect and importance in one's Shabbos observance.

Regarding what to do at home, the Mishna Brura cannot find a compelling argument to tip the scales and therefore paskens that whatever you do is good; d'avid k'mar avid, u'd'avid k'mar avid.  In shul, however, the Mishna Brura follows the p'sak of the Shulchan Aruch to light Chanuka candles first and then havdala.  You may be wondering why it is different.


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