RAV YOSEIF DOV SOLOVEITCHIK - HANEIROT HALALU
Taken from Nefesh HaRav by Rav Herschel Schachter
Masechet Soferim (20:6) States that when lighting candles on the first night of Chanukah, one should say the first bracha, followed by "HaNeirot Halalu," followed by the other two berachot. A simple reading of this statement seems to be very shocking - why would we interrupt the litany of blessings with the poem of HaNeirot Halalu? It seems that Masechet Soferim is basing its view on another law concerning Chanukah candles, namely the law that a person who sees the candles without himself having lit still has to say the latter two blessings. Unlike by most cases where we say a blessing on a mitzva, when the blessing is said before the performance of the mitzva, in this case the one who sees the candles does not make a blessing until after he has seen the candles. Furthermore, it appears that Masechet Soferim does not view HaNeirot Halalu as simply a poem, but rather as an essential part of the lighting qua its role as a conduit of publicizing the miracle (pirsumei nissa), similar to the recitation of the Hagaddah on Pesach and the reading of the Megilla on Purim. As such, HaNeirot Halalu has to be said immediately upon the lighting of the candle, while the latter two blessings can be said after is lit, in a manner similar to one who only sees the candles. Nevertheless, this view is opposed byMaharil, cited by Ramo, who claims that all three berachot are recited, and only afterwards does one say HaNeirot Halalu.
Rav Soloveitchik claimed, in the name of his father, that on the first night we have no recourse but to follow the view of Maharil. However, on the other nights there is a solution that will allow us to satisfy both opinions. How does one do this? One should say the initial bracha and then light the first candle. At that point, one should say the second bracha and then proceed to light the remaining candles. By doing so, a person fulfills the view of Maharil, who requires that both blessings be made before the candles are lit, as the second blessing is made before some of the candles are lit. At the same time, one fulfills the view of Masechet Soferim, which claims that the second bracha is made upon seeing the candles lit, as it is made after the first has been lit.
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