Saturday, December 11, 2004

Some Torah for Chanukah:

The miracle of the flask of oil raises many questions. If we follow virtually all commentators and understand that the problem of finding oil involved tum'ah in the conventional sense (and not a more general category of defilement involving idolatry), the following problems arise:

1. It should not have been necessary to use oil that was tahor due to the rule that tum'ah hutra be-zibbur.

2. Oil found in the heichal could have been presumed to be tahor since the heichal is a reshus harabim and safek tum'ah birshus harabim is tahor.

3. If the kohanim were prevented from preparing new oil because all of them were tamei, then they would also have been prevented from using the found flask since it is forbidden to be metamei kodshim be-yadayim.

4. The seal of the kohen gadol could not serve as proof that the flask remained tahor since even a sealed earthenware flask can become tamei (tumas midras).

There is a single answer to all these questions. The usual version of the miracle has got it all backwards. They could have used a tamei flask since tum'ah hutrah be-zibbur but they could not have used a tahor flask due to the problem of being metamei kodshim be-yadayim. But it was very difficult to find a flask that was tamei because of the rule that safek tum'ah birshus harabim is tahor. They were fortunate to find a single flask that had the seal of the kohen gadol verifying that it was certainly tamei and this flask burned for eight days until the kohanim could again use oil that was tahor.

PS The above is a joke. I made it up myself. Please don't take it seriously. And don't mention it to Hirhurim, who will take it seriously and explain why it's wrong.


Blogger anonymous said...

"And don't mention it to Hirhurim, who will take it seriously and explain why it's wrong."

It's chanuka not purim.

4:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recall hearing this joke years ago from Moshe Koppel, when he was stil living in the U.S. But you can't be Moshe Koppel, since you comment on his work. Unless. . .

1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish someone would explain to me why it is wrong.

5:04 PM  
Blogger פרעה נכה said...

I guess it does not make any sense for the High Priest to seal off a contaminated falask of oil, the Rabbinical law requiers that defiled Kodoshim, be burnt immediately, so as not to be Nichshal in consuming it.

10:59 PM  
Anonymous blockhead said...

The rambam puts hilchos chanuka and hilchos purim in the same halachos (hilchos chanuka starts from the 4th perek of hilchos purim), that's because chanuka is also a time of purim...

3:24 AM  

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