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Version of the Blessings on the 'Hanuka Lights

Some have the custom to say “lehadlik ner 'Hanuka,” (1) although it is likely that the original custom of Morocco was to say “lehadlik ner shel 'Hanuka.” (2)

In the blessing of She’asa Nisim, it is customary to say “She’asa nisim la-abotenu bayamim hahem bazéman hazé” and not “Ubazéman hazé.” (3)

After kindling the lights, one sings Hanerot Halalu as follows: (4)

Hanerot halalu anu madlikin, ‘al hanisim, ve’al hapurkan ve’al hageburot ve’al hateshu’ot, ve’al hanifla-ot, ve’al hane'hamot, she’asita la-abotenu bayamim hahem bazéman hazé, ‘al yedé kohanekha hakedoshim. Bekhol shemonat yemé 'Hanuka, hanerot halalu kodesh hem, ve-en lanu reshut lehishtamesh bahem, ela lir-otam bilbad, kedé lehodot lishmekha, ‘al nisekha ve’al nifle-otekha ve’al yeshu’otekha.

This is followed by the Mizmor Ha'Hag, (Tehilim 30) “Mizmor shir 'hanukat habayit leDavid…,” and some continue with the verse (Tehilim 90:17) “Vihi no’am” seven times and the mizmor (ibid. 91) “Yosheb beseter ‘elyon…” once. (5)

In some places, after saying the Mizmor Ha'Hag they are accustomed to say the verse, “Vayifrekenu misarenu, ki le’olam 'hasdo — And He broke us away from our pains because His kindness is forever” (ibid. 136:24). (6)

Hareré Kodesh:

(1) This is the version mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud (Suka 3:4), Shul'han ‘Arukh (676:1), Peri 'Hadash, Maran Ha'Hida (Birké Yosef, §676), and Yalkut Yosef (Mo’adim, vol. 5, 'Hanuka, p. 225). Maran Ha'Hida (Ma'hazik Berakha, 676:1) explains that the reason why shel is said in the blessing on the Shabat lights (lehadlik ner shel Shabat) and not in the blessing for 'Hanuka is because on Shabat the lights are only one of the many misvot of the day. On 'Hanuka, since the lights are its only misva, the word “shel” should not be said, rather “lehadlik ner 'Hanuka.” Ribi ‘Amram Assayag s”t also rules that one should say “lehadlik ner 'Hanuka.” Ribi Barukh Toledano (Kisur Shul'han ‘Arukh, §617:2) also writes that one should not say “shel,” but this is presumably because he copied what Kaf Ha'Hayim (676:1) wrote, as he explains in his introduction that most of his halakhot originate from there.

Maran Ha'Hida further explains (ibid.) that only regarding Shabat lights do we say “shel” (lehadlik ner shel Shabat) since we are encouraged and permitted to derive benefit from the Shabat lights. However, we are prohibited from deriving benefit from the 'Hanuka lights, therefore, “ner 'Hanuka” is said.

Arizal (Sha’ar HaKavanot, p. 108, column 4) writes that one should recite the blessing without “shel” in order to arrive at the acronym formed by the letters “Nun, 'Het, and Lamed” from the words “Lehadlik Ner 'Hanuka” — spelling “Na'haL,” one of the holy Names of God derived from the verse “noser 'hesed la-alafim.”

(2) The version with “shel” is the one found in the Talmud (Shabat 23a), Rambam ('Hanuka, 3:4), Shu”t Rosh (Soferim 20:4 and Shabat 2:8), Seder Rab ‘Amram Gaon (p. 99), Tur (§676), Ma'hzor Vitry (Horowis Edition, vol. 1, p. 199), Rif (Shabat 10a), Halakhot Gedolot ('Hanuka), Sidur Rashi (Freiman Edition, p. 149), Sefer HaOra (p. 62), Midrash Yalkut Shim’oni (Shofetim, §911), Shibolé HaLeket (§185), Abudarham (p. 199), and 'Hidushé HaRan (Shabat 23a). The Ashkenazim and Temanim also use this version. Ribi Yosef Messas (Ner Misva, p. 31 in the 2nd ed.) says to say “shel” based on the Rishonim, as not one of them writes to omit it. Nevertheless, he ends off that one who omits “shel” still fulfills his obligation with that blessing. The custom of Marrakech is to say “shel,” as confirmed by Ribi Refael Ohayon.

(3) See Kisur Shul'han ‘Arukh (Toledano, §617:4). See further Minhagé Ha'Hida (vol. 2, 48:6), Darké David (§59), Dibré Shalom VeEmet (p. 114), and Ner Misva (p. 30) by Ribi Yosef Messas.

(4) This version is said because 'Hanuka was a great salvation for the Jews, as explained by Rambam ('Hanuka, chapter 1). This version contains fifty-one words, which is the gematria of the word “Na,” as in the phrase “Ana Ado-nai hoshi’a na” (Please God, save me, please). This is the version found in the old sidurim. See Libi ‘Er (p. 197), Mayim 'Hayim (§271), Kisur Shul'han ‘Arukh (Toledano, 617:14), and Ner Misva (p. 62).

(5) This chapter of Tehilim was written by Moshé Rabenu and is a segula for protection, specifically at this auspicious time (‘et rason) when the entire word is “lit up” (i.e., by the 'Hanuka lights). See Kisur Shul'han ‘Arukh (Toledano, §617:15), Or HaMa’arab (vol. 9, p. 49), and Ner Misva (p. 62).

(6) This is said to emphasize our gratitude to God, blessed is He, for having saved us from the hands of the evil Syrian-Greeks who wanted to make us forget His Tora and deviate from His Will. See Nahagu Ha’Am ('Hanuka, §2, p. 143) by Ribi David ‘Obadia, in the name of his father, Ribi Yisma”h ‘Obadia.

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