Light Like a Gaon

Question: Regarding Hilchos Chanukah, you are probably familiar with the Biur HaGra in OC 671 who rules like the Rambam vs. Tosfos regarding lighting candles for every member of the family, since the gemara seems to go with the reason of "ma'alin b'kodesh" rather than "k'neged yamim" in bringing the opinions of the 2 zekainim.  I was wondering if you had a defense of Tosfos' opinion, in light of the fact that the Gemara brings the 2 zekainim.


The Gra has a beautiful thesis that makes you think that everyone, including Tosfos, would agree with his assumption that according to the opinion of ma'alin bekodesh there is no aspect of heker yomim.

But really the Gra's perspective is quite novel, perhaps too much of a chiddush to accept. If you think about it, according to the Gra the two reasons offered are reasons why there should be a change in the number of candles altogether, from day to day. Ma'alin bekodesh is the cause requiring a change. That does not have to be the simple pshat. Tosfos assumes that ma'alin bekodesh explains which direction to go after I know from some other source that a change needs to be made.

The same goes for parei hachag. Is that a reason to make a change (Gra) or is it an indication to decide which way to go after I know a change needs to be made (Tosfos).

Personally, I think Tosfos's assumption is more logical.

What I am driving at is this. Tosfos said to himself, parei hachag and maalin bekodesh can only be indications of direction, but what is the mechayev to make a change in the first place? It must be keneged yomim hanichnasim or yomim hayotzim i.e. heker yomim. That means that all opinions accept that yesod for the cause of a change in the number of candles every day, just the reason of maalin bekodesh explains why Beis shamai chose keneged yomim hanichnosim and why Beis Hillel chose keneged yomim hayotzim.

If that is the case, then even after we accept the story of the zekainim as showing us the reason why we count up instead of down, but we still need a valid reason why we don't just light the same number every night. The reason for that is still because of heker of days – to distinguish the number of days from one another. Thus, even lemaskana, heker yomim is essential. Therefore Tosfos will still have his issues lemaskana.

This even seems more palatable than the Gra's pshat.

The Gra possibly rejected this because the Gemara uses the word pligi –stating that the two Amoraim argue. According to this interpretation of Tosfos, there isn't all that much that they argue about.

BookID: 1 Chapter: 671

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