The Gemara Yoma 28b says that Avraham Avinu kept the whole Torah including Eruv Tavshilin. We see that Avraham kept the Rabbinic laws. Does this mean he lit the Menorah as well?

אמר (רב) ואיתימא רב אשי קיים אברהם אבינו אפילו עירובי תבשילין שנאמר תורותי אחת תורה שבכתב ואחת תורה שבעל פה

Rav said, and some say Rav Ashi said: Abraham our Patriarch fulfilled the entire Torah, even the mitzva of the Eruv Tavshilin, a rabbinic ordinance instituted later, as it is stated: MyTorahs. Since the term is in the plural, it indicates that Abraham kept two Torahs; one, the Written Torah, and one, the Oral Torah.parameters included therein.

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    Based on your emphasis on Rabbinic laws, I assume you mean Menorah of Chanukah, and I’ve retagged your question accordingly. Please feel free to edit back if I misunderstood. More to the point of your question: Why do you think Menorah should be different that he didn’t do it?
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 4:50
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    @DonielF - While I disagree, I still understand the question: On a surface level, it is easier to understand the keeping of rabbinic enactments which are not intrinsically bound to time even before they were enacted; it's harder to understand keeping an enactment that was bound to a specific event before that event took place. In other words - maybe they only kept Rabbinic enactments where the reason was already relevant?
    – chortkov2
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 7:06
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    Some versions of the Gemara have Eruv Techumin which is a biblical rule (at least for some cases / some opinions).
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 12:42
  • I meant chanuka. The reason why chanuka would be different is perhaps theres no pursumei nisa if neis didnt happen. Or he only kept eruv tavshilin since thats part of shabbos. But these type of mitzvos which are rabbinic and based on an event , maybe are different. Also it just sounds funny that they lit the menorah.
    – Shlomy
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 19:21
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    @DoubleAA Vote to reopen - The linked question doesn't appear to ask about Rabbinic commandments (nor do the answers there that I skimmed appear to address the passage regarding eruv tavshilin).
    – Loewian
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 2:10

3 Answers 3


The Talmud in Avoda Zara 8a tells this interesting story

ת"ר: לפי שראה אדם הראשון יום שמתמעט והולך, אמר: אוי לי, שמא בשביל שסרחתי עולם חשוך בעדי וחוזר לתוהו ובוהו, וזו היא מיתה שנקנסה עלי מן השמים, עמד וישב ח' ימים בתענית [ובתפלה]. כיון שראה תקופת טבת וראה יום שמאריך והולך, אמר: מנהגו של עולם הוא, הלך ועשה שמונה ימים טובים. לשנה האחרת עשאן לאלו ולאלו ימים טובים – הוא קבעם לשם שמים, והם קבעום לשם עבודת כוכבים.‏

Our Rabbis taught: When primitive Adam saw the day getting gradually shorter, he said, 'Woe is me, perhaps because I have sinned, the world around me is being darkened and returning to its state of chaos and confusion; this then is the kind of death to which I have been sentenced from Heaven!' So he began keeping an eight days' fast. But as he observed the winter equinox and noted the day getting increasingly longer, he said, 'This is the world's course', and he set forth to keep an eight days' festivity. In the following year he appointed both15 as festivals. Now, he fixed them for the sake of Heaven, but the [heathens] appointed them for the sake of idolatry.

According to this, an 8 day holiday when days become longer predates Avraham.

It seems logical to assume he kept this tradition. If he did it by lighting candles? hard to say.

  • Please add translation: halakhah.com/zarah/zarah_8.html Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 10:26
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    The day after the days start getting longer is roughly eight to ten days before New Years. The timing of Chanukah has nothing to do with the winter solstice. Also the gemara you quote states this was turned into Avoda Zara, not Chanuka.
    – user6591
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 15:40
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    This has nothing to do with Chanukah.
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 17:36
  • Sounds like 16 days to me.
    – LN6595
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 22:35
  • @LN6595 The Gemara indicates that it’s two separate eight-day holidays side-by-side. It’s a great Gemara to go through, but it has nothing to do with the topic at hand.
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 18:24

It would seem from the Chidushei Agadata of the Maharsha on this section that Avraham Avinu only kept those Rabbinical Mitzvot that have some Asmachta - some hint or basis - in the Torah.

Since Chanuka was instituted solely on a historical victory, it is not hinted to in the Torah and thus has no meaning before the victory took place.

Which would mean that Avraham Avinu did not light Chanuka candles.

  • What about the geonim who count chanukah in the 613 mitzvos? I heard an explanation that they found an asmachta to chanukah (Rav Yerucham Fishel Perlow).
    – robev
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 13:21
  • @robev - according to them, maybe he did "keep Chanuka" - but I'd be curious to see these Geonim inside - I've never heard of this. You realize it means that for the first +/- millennium there were only 612 Mitzvot. That means that at no time in history was it possible for all 613 Mitzvot to be done (even collectively). Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 13:26
  • See Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvos Shoresh 1. It's entirely about this topic. The fact that the geonim count it isn't new, the fact that it's an asmachta is a novel idea. Bli neder I'll look it up later where he says it
    – robev
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 13:31
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    There is a hint, right after sukkos in the Torah shemen zayis zuch is mentioned
    – sam
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 14:53
  • Define asmachta in this context. I mean, the Gemara in Beitzah gives a whole slew of “sources” for Eruv Tavshilin in the Torah, but there’s later sources for Chanukah in the Torah as well. As @sam references, Machzor Vitri finds a source for Chanukah and Purim in Parshas Emor.
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 17:38

The Maharal MiPrague (Netzach Yisrael 46) understands the text allegorically (as is generally the case with medrash). The Maharal explains that the rabbinic commandment of eruv tavshilin represents that we merit the ability to acquire merit for our positive choices in good times (corresponding to preparing for Shabbath on a preceding yom tov - which represent, respectively, the final merit of the world to come and the preceding messianic era) by demonstrating that we also make positive choices when times are hard - i.e. in this world, in exile (corresponding to preparing for Shabbath on the day before Yom Tov).

The Maharal suggests that this is the reason the Talmud mentions that Abraham kept specifically this mitzva. The passage is highlighting that, even though later in his life Abraham had it easy, so one might be tempted to think he was not so merit-worthy for his positive actions, he had already demonstrated his merit-worthiness during the many trials and tribulations of his younger years, and thus even his choices in easy times were also merit-worthy.

According to this allegorical interpretation, there's no reason to assume that Abraham kept commandments that had not yet been received or enacted.

  • I assume the question was according to those who take it literally
    – robev
    Commented Dec 18, 2019 at 23:35

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