There are questions on the site which deal with saying Hallel on Channukah but my question seeks a more fundamental insight:

The Ramban writes on Devarim 4:2 that a violation of Bal Tosif is creating a new holiday (like Yeravam did in Melachim I 12:32-33). The Ramban goes on to explain that Purim does not violate Bal Tosif for there were 180 Neviim who instituted the holiday. The Ramban, however, does not mention the basis for Channukah. Why doesn't Channukah violate Bal Tosif?

2 Answers 2


First, a correction to the question. The Ramban does not say that Megillah is not a problem because it was instituted by nevi'im, rather he says that it is not a problem because a source was found within the Torah. See Ramban's hasagot to Sefer Hamitzvot, Shoresh 2:

וכבר אמרו(מגלה יד.) ״ארבעים ושמונה נביאים ושבע נביאות עמדו להם לישראל לא פיחתו ולא הותירו על מה שכתוב בתורה אפילו אות אחת חוץ ממקרא מגלה. מאי דרוש? א״ר חייא בר אבין משום ר' יהושע בן קרחה קל וחומר ומה מעבדות לחירות אמרו שירה, ממות לחיים לא כל שכן״. למדו אותנו בזה כי כל התקנות והגזירות אינן תוספת אבל הן גדר וסייג לתורה, אבל מקרא מגלה היא תוספת, לפי שנכתבה [ב]תורה, והוקבעה חובה לדורות, אלא שסמכו על חיובה בקל וחומר הזה ועל כתיבתה מן הרמז שמצאו כתוב זאת זכרון בספר.

According to the Ramban, megillah would have been an addition because it was written in the Torah (or like the Torah was written, depending on the girsa in the Ramban), and because it was established as a permanent mitzvah. R. Meir Dan Plotzki, in his Kli Chemdah to Devarim (p. 11) explains that megillah is a unique problem because it was established as an eternal holiday from the start. (See the Rambam at the end of Hilchot Megillah, 2:18.) This makes Megillah different from Chanukah. As for the writing of the Megillah, the Ramban seems to suggest that this is unique as well because it is a permanent part of the canon. See Rambam ibid., and Masat Hamelech al ha-Moadim, no. 48. Again, Chanukah does not share this problem at all.

Another approach, which is the approach of the Mabit in his Kiryat Sefer to Hilchot Chanukah as well as R. Chaim Volozhiner in his Nefesh HaChaim 1:22, explains that Chanukah is alluded to in the Torah as well, as the Ramban himself explains in the beginning of Parashat Beha'alotecha. If so, Chanukah is not a problematic addition for the same reason as Megillah, because both have allusions to their creation in the Torah itself.

For more about this question, see this article.


Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot explains that the Ramban is only bothered by Purim because it was an institution of the Nevi'im - prophets.

What does Rashi mean? A simple understanding of his words would seem to indicate that he doesn't believe that Chanuka presents a problem, since its source is not a takanat nevi'im. Only a mitzva which is introduced as falling under the category of divrei kabbala has the potential of conflicting with the principle of bal tosif. A mitzva instituted with ruach ha-kodesh, and included in the kitvei ha- kodesh, can "compete" - if we may use such an expression - with the status of the 613 mitzvot as a complete and unalterable unit. A regular mitzva de-rabanan could not and cannot present any such competition, since it lacks the characteristics of a 'mitzva on the same level as a de-oraita'. Hence Chazal only felt the need to solve the 'problem' of the bal tosif of Purim, while seeing no reason to raise the problem at all with regard to Chanuka.

If this is the case, then the first difference which we have discovered between Chanuka and Purim involves solving the problem of bal tosif. Purim, which falls under the category of divrei kabbala, requires a solution while Chanuka, which is a regular de-rabanan, requires no special heter for its institution and mitzvot.

  • Seems an appropriate day to quote a Torah from this particular yeshiva.
    – Yishai
    Apr 20, 2015 at 19:19
  • I'm still a little confused. What is it about Channukah that there is no problem?
    – Bochur613
    Apr 20, 2015 at 19:38
  • @Bochur613, because it is a regular Takkanas Chachamim. In other words, as long as there is no claim of special ruach Hakodesh involved, it isn't a problem.
    – Yishai
    Apr 20, 2015 at 20:05
  • +1 i remember seeing early sources (rishonim?) That the reason any gezeira dirabanan is not bal tosef is because it is known and obvious it is a dirabanan.
    – user6591
    Apr 20, 2015 at 20:17

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