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On Chanuka, we thank God in the amida (sh'mone esre) and grace after meals

ועל הנסים ועל הפרקן ועל הגבורות ועל התשועות ועל הנפלאות ועל הנחמות ועל המלחמות שעשית לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה

for the miracles, rescue, strengths, salvations, wonders, consolations, and battles You effected for our fathers in those days at this time.

When lighting the Chanuka lights, we mention that we do so

על הנסים ועל הנפלאות ועל התשועות ועל המלחמות שעשית לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה

for the miracles, wonders, salvations, and battles You effected for our fathers in those days at this time.

(Versions vary, but those are the ones I see in most nusach "S'farad" prayer books.)

  1. Why is the list of things God did for our fathers different in the two prayers?
  2. Of the things listed in both prayers, their order differs between the two prayers. Why?
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  • According to Wikipedia he.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/… the Sefardi version of Al hanisim and haneiros halalu have the same words in the same order
    – Lo ani
    Dec 8, 2023 at 12:20

3 Answers 3

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Disclaimer: this is completely unsourced, and for all I know the real reason for the differences is just girsa changes.

I don't have an answer for the different things mentioned, but as for the different order, this might be the reason:

Both Al Hanisim and Haneiros Halalu mention four things (in the version mentioned in the question)

נסים, תשועות, נפלאות, מלחמות

(This is the order in Al Hanisim, in Haneiros Halalu the order is 1,3,2,4 relative to the above order).

In Al hanisim our main focus is to thank HaShem (this is why it is said in modim and nodeh lechah), and there are two things to thank HaShem for: the miracles he performed (i.e. HaShem's objective actions), and the actual salvation (I.e. HaShem's action as they pertain to B'nei Yisrael). For this reason we switch off been the two - we first thank HaShem for the miracles, then the salvations, then the wonders, then the battles (separate question why we thank HaShem for battles at all...) This back and forth works even when we include all of the 'additional' words which are only mentioned in Al hanisim.

However, in Haneiros Halalu, we are talking about the candles, which are mainly supposed to signify and advertise the miracle. Therefore, we first mention the things that show that: the miracles and the wonders, and only afterwards we mention the salvations and the battles, which are secondary when it comes to the candles.

Note that while the orders do switch around, 'miracles' comes before 'wonders' and 'salvations' comes before 'battles' in both cases, which might show some sort of inner hierarchy.

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It's hard to offer a satisfactory explanation when there are so many variations, but I'll focus on the terms נסים, תשועות, נפלאות that seem to be common across many of them. Likkutei Sichos 15, in answering a similar question about Chabad's version of Haneiros Halalu, explains that the miracles of Chanukah can be broken down into 3 corresponding categories:

  1. תשועות implies salvation from an adversary of comparable strength, where the victory can be chalked up to natural causes. In context of the Chanukah story, this refers to the minor battles fought by the Chashmonaim, starting with the uprising in Modi'in and the subsequent skirmishes.

  2. נסים are miraculous events that are clearly supernatural. This includes the ultimate victory in battle against Antiochus' army, where the Jews were completely outmatched, as well the miracle of the oil burning for 8 days.

  3. נפלאות are wondrous events that signify divine intervention but are not supernatural on their face. This refers to the discovery of the single cruse of undefiled oil, something that could be written off as sheer luck but was extraordinary under the circumstances.

Based on this, perhaps we can say that each tefilla prioritizes different words to highlight different events. Al Hanisim is primarily a prayer of thanks for our triumph against the wicked Greeks and Hellenists, therefore it prioritizes נסים and תשועות in reference to the military victories. Haneiros Halalu, on the other hand, is a song about the menorah lights, so it emphasizes נסים and נפלאות in reference to the discovery of the oil and its longevity.

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They're basically the same, both are four, just the first list doubles each of the first three expressions in praise and in kabbalistic style.

Both sequence of four like most fours, such as the Holy Name, are the aspect of Abba Imma Zeir Nuqba.

I would guess that the first one in the Amida is the paradigm but the second one is another paradigm. Relative to the first one the second one swaps the word(s) that occur in Imma and Zeir.

For the second one you have a nice mnemonic ננת"מ Nana Tam (Grandma finished). This may allude to the move of Imma to third position as Zeir matures up to her Intellect or something like that.

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    if you are going to bring Kabbalistic-based answers you have to make them understandable. For the record I did not downvote, but you are mentioning concepts with the assumption that everyone knows what you're talking about. If you take the time to explain your answer better, it will perform better.
    – Dov
    Dec 8, 2023 at 12:54

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