2. Ad She-tikhleh Regel Min Ha-shuk: Ad De-kalya Rigla De-tarmoda'i
The gemara interprets the mishna: "[The ner Chanukah must be relit] until there is no wayfarer in the street - until when is that? Rabba Bar Bar Chana said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: until the feet of the Tarmodeans have disappeared."
Who are the Tarmodeans, and what connection do they have to the period for which the ner Chanukah must remain lit?
On the peshat level, as Rashi explains, Tarmodeans refer to sellers of firewood, who are usually the last to leave the marketplace; but what is the meaning the term Tarmoda'i?
The term "Tarmodean"77 appears rarely in rabbinic literature; there is a discussion of their status with regard to yuchsin in several tractates, and a "Miriam the Tarmodean" appears in Tractate Nazir. The aggada, however, is somewhat more rich with regard to Tarmod. The midrash writes, "'For your offspring shall conquer 'the gate' of its enemies' - Rebbi states, this is Tarmod; happy are all who see in the downfall of Tarmod, for it was a partner in the two destructions. Rabbi Yudan and Rabbi Chanina issued statements in this regard. One said, in the destruction of Bayit Rishon, Tarmod contributed [to the enemy] 80,000 archers, and in the destruction of Bayit Sheini, they contributed 8,000 archers; the other said, in the destruction of Bayit Rishon, Tarmod contributed [to the enemy] 40,000 archers, and in the destruction of Bayit Sheini, they contributed 2,000 archers."78 Tarmod was a chief participant in the churban and is seen as the leader of the enemies to be conquered.
This future conquest is described in more detail in Midrash Shir Ha-shirim. Its description of the conquests of the melekh ha-mashiach in the aftermath of Milchemet Gog U-Magog culminates in the battle of the Jews with the kings of the east in Tarmod.79 Tarmod represents the culmination of the eschatological apocalypse; the light of the ner Chanukah, representing the ongoing eschatological struggle, must burn until then.
The circle is complete. Simchat beit ha-sho'eva is the celebration on Sukkot (the festival of the eschatological apocalypse), in the place representing Shem Hashem (the cause of the eschatological apocalypse), by the Chasidim (who would give their lives to be redeemed in the eschatological apocalypse),80 with fire (the manifestation of the Shekhina in the eschatological apocalypse), while singing Hallel (the praise for the eschatological apocalypse). Chanukah is the beginning of the implementation of the eschatological apocalypse, as is clear in the rabbinic portrayal of its events; it is quite appropriate that its mitzvot precisely mirror the former.
Each of the sugyot in the continuation of the gemara fit into and build upon these themes.
3. Mehadrin Min Ha-mehadrin: Machloket Beit Shammai U-beit Hillel
Once the gemara has established the halakha as per the opinion of Rav, that the Chanukah lights parallel those of the simchat beit ha-sho'eva, its next step must be to clarify to which lights of simchat beit ha-sho'eva it refers; for the mishna on Sukka 51a clearly delineates two:
A. The menorot shel zahav, the candelabrums of gold in the courtyard of the Ezrat Nashim, whose light would spread to every courtyard in Yerushalayim, and
B. Avukot shel or, torches of fire in the hands of the Chasidim ve-anshei ma'aseh, the pious and men of deeds.
It seems that both are reflected in the halakhic development of the requirement of ner Chanukah:
1. Ner ish u-beito, the light for each household, listed as the base requirement on Shabbat 21b, appears to parallel the menorot shel zahav. Each house must have a light, and, as the gemara develops subsequently, that light must be visible - it must be within 20 cubits from the ground to allow visibility (22a), and a house that has two entrances needs two lamps (23a), to ensure that the light be perceivable by those outside the house. As we explained above, the idea of the menorot shel zahav is the expression of Divine presence upon the general world.
2. Mehadrin: ner le-kol echad ve-echad, the "zealous" provide a light for each individual. The "zealous" are those who perform hiddur mitzva, beautification in the performance of a precept, a concept which, incidentally, finds its origin in the commandment to take the four species on Sukkot (Vayikra 23:40 - pri etz hadar, the fruit of a beautiful tree). This appears to parallel the avukot shel or, the torches borne by the individual pious and "zealots" at the beit ha-sho'eva festivities; perhaps the notion of the avukot shel or reflects the favorable expression of Divine presence upon the Jewish people, who bear lights for themselves and use them in their dance and praise to God. The parallel to the four species may strengthen this idea - as mentioned above, the midrash points to the species as emblems of the victory of the Jewish people. This also might explain the minimum requirement listed by the gemara in times of danger - meinicho al shulchano ve-dayo - he places it upon his table and it suffices for him; at least he accomplishes bearing his personal lamp and the reflection of Divine presence within the Jewish people, if not its dispersion to all the nations.
3. Mehadrin min ha-mehadrin, the performance by the "extremely zealous," is understood in two ways; the two opinions, that of Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel appear to reflect the two above models for the light of the beit ha-sho'eva.
A. Beit Shammai opine that the lights parallel parei ha-chag, the seventy sacrificial heifers which continually decrease. The gemara in Sukka 55b clarifies, as discussed above, that the heifers represent the nations of the world who decrease when they lose the atonement of the mizbe'ach and are exposed to the eschatological fires of Divine revelation; hence, mehadrin min ha-mehadrin is built upon the base requirement of ner ish u-beito, the concept of menorot shel zahav which caused light to emanate from the Mikdash to all the nations.
B. Beit Hillel opine that the lights increase in consonance with the halakhic concept of ma'alin ba-kodesh ve-ein moridin, that we promote in matters of sanctity but do not reduce. This concept is reflected in various laws in the Talmud;81 none of the instances relate the source of the halakha. However, one midrashic text does ascribe a source. Midrash Kohelet writes, "...and I have heard that we promote in matters of sanctity and do not reduce from that which is stated here - '[ascribe a portion for seven] and also for eight (Kohelet 11:2);' 'on the eighth day, there shall be an atzeret. (Bemidbar 29:35)'"82 The entire maxim is derived from the separate treatment and mention of Shemini Atzeret, to which is ascribed a loftier level of holiness.
The same gemara (Sukkot 55b) which deals with the parei ha-chag addresses Shemini Atzeret. The lone heifer of the eighth day is seen as parallel to the uma yechida, the lone nation - i.e., Yisrael; the eighth is the day upon which God "tells His beloved, 'Prepare a small meal so that I may benefit from you.'" It would seem that according to Beit Hillel, mehadrin min ha-mehadrin, like mehadrin, reflects the beneficent Divine revelation specific to the Jewish people, the avukot shel or in the hands of the pious.
The halakha follows Beit Hillel. Chanukah, like simchat beit ha-sho'eva, contains both concepts. There is the basis, Divine revelation upon the world, the u-lekha asita shem gadol ve-kadosh be-olamekha, which expresses itself in nissim, gevurot and milchamot, God's retribution to the nations. But above the substratum of ner ish u-beito, and as an outgrowth thereof, stands the level of mehadrin min ha-mehadrin, the u-le'amekha Yisrael asita teshu'a u-purkan ka-yom ha-zeh, the expression of Divine revelation in purkan and teshu'ot, redemption and reward for His righteous nation, Yisrael.
From the sources, it is evident that from the rabbinic perspective, both Chanukah and Sukkot share the theme of gilui Shekhina. Thematically, the former particularly mirrors its most extreme expression, the eschatological apocalypse, as is clearly expressed in rabbinic literature and liturgy; hence, the parameters of the rabbinically mandated ordinances of Chanukah parallel those of the Sukkot ritual whose purpose is to reflect the eschatological apocalypse - i.e., the simchat beit ha-sho'eva.
In our analysis of Shabbat 21a, we have seen that the gemara establishes three possible paradigms for ner Chanukah - ner Shabbat, the menorah of the Mikdash, and the lights of the simchat beit ha-sho'eva, and that each possibility carries with it halakhic implications. We have seen that the latter possibility, the simchat beit ha-sho'eva, which was accepted in the gemara's conclusion, epitomizes the concept of the expression of the Divine presence in the eschatological apocalypse, a theme which runs through all the practices of the holiday of Sukkot, the period of its (the simchat beit ha-sho'eva's) celebration. We identified two characteristic elements of the eschatological apocalypse - the destruction of the oppressor nations and the salvation of the Jewish people - which express themselves prominently in both simchat beit ha-sho'eva and apocalyptic writings as well as in works reflecting the rabbinic perspective of Chanukah - namely, Megillat Antiochus, Al Ha-nissim, and our gemara, in its reference to ריגלא דתרמודאי . We then proceeded to demonstrate how these themes are expressed in the ensuing discussion regarding the halakhic performance of hadlakat ner Chanuka, the light of Divine revelation to light our path until the end of the eschatological era, when all the world will be filled by the Divine light.
והיה ה' למלך ...על כל הארץ ביום ההוא יהיה ה' אחד ושמו אחד (זכריה יד:ט)