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When we light the chanukiyah we say "she'asah nissim...b'yamim hahem bizman hazeh", with a past-tense "asah". While the miracles worked in the past (b'yamim hahem) are in the past (tautology alert!), this also talks about today (zman hazeh). Miracles are ongoing all the time but we use only the past tense? Did the rabbis not include both past and present tenses because that would be cumbersome, or am I misunderstanding the grammar and this covers present too, or is there a reason to specifically focus on the past only?

I'm not sure if this is a grammar question or a theology question.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think the phrase "bizman hazeh" means "at this time of the year."

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This is one of those funny instances, where a person puts an ... to remove only a single word, and that single word is the key to understanding the sentence.

The english of this bracha is "Who performed miracles for our forfathers, in those days at this time."

"Who performs miracles for our forfathers, in those days, at this time" would not make sense and would raise even more questions!

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I wasn't suggesting that you could merely change the tense; you'd need to do more. And I've never seen internal punctuation in a bracha so commas are speculative, yes? –  Monica Cellio Dec 22 '11 at 20:18
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What @avi seems to be pointing out is that the phrase "for our forefathers" makes it clear that "at this time" cannot mean "nowadays." –  Dave Dec 23 '11 at 2:14
    
@Dave, ah, I see. I thought it was a sequence -- our forefathers then, us now. –  Monica Cellio Dec 23 '11 at 3:04

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