Hillel's approach for Chanukah and for couples

I was going to wait until closer to Chanukah to post this, but because a question came up in the guest http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2009/11/guest-post-on-gifts.html, I decided to share it early.
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 In Made in Heaven: A Jewish Wedding Guide, (Moznaim Publishing, 1983 p. 32), Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan brings up the issue of squandering money on lavish weddings that should be put to better use in providing the couple with necessities. He recalls an illustration offered by his friend, Rabbi Shmuel Mendelson. Hillel and Shamai had different views about the order in which Chanukah candles should be lit. As we know, we follow the opinion of Beis Hillel, which is to begin with one and add on a candle each successive night. However, Beis Shamai’s view was that the candles should parallel the cows offered during Sukkos, which began with the full number but went down one each day.

Rabbi Mendelson observed that Beis Shamai’s approach is followed by those who believe they must start out married life with everything. They are the ones who would register for the expensive china and silver sets, buy full suites of Italian furniture, and set it all up in a home they cannot afford to keep up. “When they begin, they have everything.” But when reality sets in and their income cannot keep up with their expenses, “they find their lives diminishing.”

Then there are couples who see the wisdom of Beis Hillel’s approach in their own life. “They can start off with one candle – with very little.” These are the ones who make do with a modest apartment furnished with second-hand pieces and dishes that are priced by the set rather than the place setting. So they do not begin in a blaze of glory. “But for the rest of their life they are adding.”


Chaim B. said…
I would add that those extra candles are hidur mitzvah but not part of the essential obligation. When one moves out of the one bedroom apartment into more lavish quarters and is mosif b'gashmiyus in other ways one should not forget the distinction between what is essential and necessary and what is merely hidur, for beauty and comfort.
Orthonomics said…
Can I use this as a guest post? Thanks.
Ariella said…
Of course. I think it's a brilliant analogy and wonder why I haven't seen it quoted outside Rabbi Kaplan's book.
Very interesting point and I should say that I do agree. At the same time everyone should use their own brain where to draw the line. There couldn't be one measure for everyone
Ariella said…
That's the beauty of the analogy, Dude. It doesn't prescribe exactly what to start with only to not start in a blaze that cannot be sustained down the road.
Orthonomics said…
The post is up. I decided to save it for Chanukah time so readers can share the thought during the holiday if they so please. I really love this thought and I always look forward to the 8th day where the lights are going strong. Around the last days of Chanukah is when we tend to pack everyone into the car for a drive around the neighborhood to see everything at its brightest point.
Ariella said…
thanks for the update, SL. A good Chanukah and shavua tov to you. I hope your readers enjoy the post!
It's not a question of "much or little," which cannot be defined. It boils down to "more or less than other people at your stage of life in your circle."

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