Drinking on Hanukah

The newest episode for JewishDrinking.com: The Show is now up, featuring Rabbi Ben Shefter, wherein we discuss “Drinking on Hanukah”. Here is the podcast episode:

Here is the video episode:

Related to our discussion is this text in the Shulhan Arukh (OH 670:2):

ריבוי הסעודות שמרבים בהם הם סעודות הרשות שלא קבעום למשתה ושמחה

Increasing meals which we add on them are voluntary meals, since they did not establish them as for drinking and rejoicing.

And here is the addition of Rabbi Moshe Isserles thereon:

ויש אומרים שיש קצת מצוה בריבוי הסעודות משום דבאותן הימים היה חנוכת המזבח [מהר”א מפראג] ונוהגין לומר זמירות ושבחות בסעודות שמרבים בהם ואז הוי סעודת מצוה [מנהגים] י”א שיש לאכול גבינה בחנוכה לפי שהנס נעשה בחלב שהאכילה יהודית את האויב [כל בו ור”ן]

But there are those who say that there is somewhat of a mitzvah in adding meals, because during those days was the dedication of the altar (Abraham Kara of Prague). Some are accustomed to recite hymns and songs of praise during the feasts added on them, and then they are mitzvah meals (Book of Customs). Some say that cheese should be eaten during Hanukkah, because a miracle was done though milk which Yehudit fed the enemy. (Kol Bo and Nissim of Gerona).

Also relevant to our discussion is from the Kol Bo (section 44):

ויש מפרשים שעל ידי אשה אירע להם הנס הגדול ההוא ושמה יהודית כמו שמפורש באגדה בת היתה ליוחנן כהן גדול והיתה יפת תואר מאד ואמר המלך יון שתשכב עמו והאכילתו תבשיל של גבינה כדי שיצמא וישתה לרוב וישתכר וישכב וירדם ויהי לה כן וישכב וירדם ותקח חרבו וחתכה ראשו ותביאהו לירושלים וכראות החיל כי מת גבורם וינוסו, ועל כן נהגו לעשות תבשיל של גבינה בחנוכה

There are some who explain that it was through a woman that the miracle occured, and her name was Judith as in explained in the Aggada—Yohanan the High Priest had a very beautiful daughter and the Seleucid king sought to sleep with her, and she fed him a dish made with cheese so he would be thirsty and he drank too much and became drunk and lay down and slept and she took his sword and beheaded him and brought his head to Jerusalem and when the soldiers saw that their champion was dead they fled, and thus the custom is to make cheese dishes for Hanukka.

(English translation courtesy of Rabbi Dan Margulies)

A couple of other aspects referenced in the episode are Pirsumei Nisa in the Talmud and Considering the Phrase מעלין בקדש ולא מורידין.

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