By Moishe Dovid Lebovits: On Chanukah, we insert Al Hanissim into our davening and bentching. It is very practical for us to discuss all the halachos that apply to this. Some questions we will discuss are:
Why is it said? Is there a difference between saying it in davening and bentching? What happens if you forget to say it? We will also discuss the concept of davening for miracles.
The Gemara suggests that since Chanukah is d’rabbanan in nature there is no need to mention Al Hanissim in bentching (since there is no obligation to eat a meal on Chanukah, there is no obligation to recite Al Hanissim in bentching). The Gemara concludes that if one wishes to mention it he may do so in the brachah of thanks, which is Nodeh. Al Hanissim is recited in davening before V’al Kulam, which is the brachah of thanks.
As mentioned above, we say Al Hanissim in davening before V’al Kulam, since Chanukah is all about thanks. This is mandatory, and there never was a question regarding this obligation. One reason is that since there is chazaras hashatz there is pirsumei nisa by saying Al Hanissim (it is said in tefillos without chazaras hashatz as well).
We say Al Hanissim in Mussaf of Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh, even though there is no Mussaf the rest of Chanukah. However, if one forgot, there is no need to go back to the beginning of Shemoneh Esrei.
There is no need to repeat Shemoneh Esrei if one forgot to say Al Hanissim.
Al Hanissim is recited on the first night of Chanukah, even if one davens Ma’ariv before he lights.
One should not skip Al Hanissim in order to answer Kedushah with the shatz.
It is permitted to say Al Hanissim on the last day of Chanukah, even if one davened Minchah after nightfall. This is also true if on the last day of Chanukah one said Al Hanissim in Ma’ariv.
If One Forgot
We mentioned above that if one forgot to mention Al Hanissim he does not have to go back. If he has not yet finished Shemoneh Esrei, the following rules apply:
Didn’t step back yet from Shemoneh Esrei – Some would say it then but the custom is not like this.
Didn’t finish brachah yet – You can say it then even if you said baruch and not Atah at the end of the brachah.
Finished brachah – If one finished the brachah of V’al Kulam and he remembered he did not say Al Hanissim he does not go back to say it.
Said It in Wrong Place
If one said Al Hanissim in Retzei it is not a hefsek and he does not have to repeat it again.
Said Wrong Al Hanissim
If one said Al Hanissim and confused Chanukah with Purim, he does not have to go back if he remembered after he finished the brachah of hatov shimcha.
The custom is that we say Al Hanissim in the brachah of thanks (Nodeh), before V’al Hakol. The reason is that the theme of Chanukah is thanks.
Tosafos says the reason for the uncertainty in the Gemara regarding Birkas Hamazon and Al Hanissim is that it is said in the privacy of one’s home and there is not as great of a pirsumei nisa as in shul.
Based on the Gemara’s expression of “one wishes” it is apparent that there is no obligation to say Al Hanissim.
If one forgot Al Hanissim in bentching, he does not repeat bentching. This is true even if one forgot Al Hanissim in bentching on Shabbos where there is an obligation to eat, and if one misses out on a portion of bentching he normally would have to repeat bentching.
Nevertheless, if one remembers before he finished bentching and he is holding at the Harachamans he should (some mention can) add the following:
“Harachaman Hu ya’aseh nissim v’nifla’os k’shem she’asah l’avoseinu bayamim hahem b’zman hazeh,” and then start B’yemei Mattisyahu, etc. Some maintain that one can say this when he forgets Al Hanissim in davening as well, at the end of Shemoneh Esrei, before the first Yiheyu l’ratzon.
If one started a meal on Erev Chanukah and continued until nightfall he would say Al Hanissim in bentching if he ate a kezayis of bread after nightfall.
M’ein Shalosh – Al Hamichyah
When one recites Al Hamichyah during Chanukah one does not recite even a shorter version of Al Hanissim. Since there is no mention of thanks in Al Hamichyah, there is no need to recite Al Hanissim. Others explain that only Yamim Tovim mentioned in the Torah are mentioned in m’ein shalosh.
Others mention a novel approach as to why there is no mention of Chanukah in Al Hamichyah. Generally, we are not allowed to pray for miracles (see below). Furthermore, we mentioned before that it is questionable whether to mention Al Hanissim during bentching, as it does not generate a great deal of pirsumei nisa. There is some pirsumei nisa, since it is recited in public when people eat together. Foods that warrant m’ein shalosh are generally eaten in private where there is no pirsumei nisa, so we don’t mention it.
The custom of many is to say V’al Hanissim (with a vav); however, the overwhelming custom is not like this. The correct nusach is b’zman hazeh.
Some maintain that in Al Hanissim one should say k’shem she’asisa – “so too, You should do nissim for us.” However, we are not allowed to make personal requests in the first and last three brachos of Shemoneh Esrei. Others permit it since it is a public need. Some explain that we are thanking Hashem for favors in the past, and saying k’shem is also for past occurrences. However, the custom is not to say it. Nevertheless, one may recite it if he wishes.
Davening in a Siddur
One should use a siddur at least the first time he recites Al Hanissim in davening since he is not used to saying it. Others are lenient and maintain that the additions for Chanukah are minute, and people remember them from year to year. Therefore, there is no need for a siddur.
Announcing Al Hanissim
At Ma’ariv on the first night, one should announce before Shemoneh Esrei to say Al Hanissim. Although one is not supposed to be mafsik then, this is considered a need for tefillah.
Anyone can make the announcement, but it is not proper that many people do it since it will confuse people.
Erev Shabbos – Shabbos
When the first night of Chanukah falls out on Shabbos and one lights Chanukah candles before Minchah, he does not say Al Hanissim in davening.
When Erev Chanukah falls out on Shabbos and one eats shalosh seudos after dark, he does not say Al Hanissim in bentching. Rather, one only says Retzei, since the beginning of the meal was not on Chanukah.
If one began eating on the last day of Chanukah, which was on Shabbos, and continued eating into the night, he says Al Hanissim and Retzei since we go according to the beginning of the meal.
If one forgot Retzei and mentioned Al Hanissim on Shabbos Chanukah, when he repeats bentching since he missed Retzei, he should say Al Hanissim as well.
Davening for Miracles
Earlier, we learned that if one forgot Al Hanissim in bentching and he is up to the Harachamans he should add a Harachaman about Al Hanissim. The language indicates that we are davening for a miracle, which is generally not allowed. One of the reasons we do not ask for Hashem for miracles is that we don’t want to diminish our merits. We do find that Leah davened that her child be a daughter (Dinah) and Hashem answered her prayer. Some maintain that the Imahos are different. The Mishnah says if one is expecting a child he should not daven that it be a boy since this is a tefillah in vain.
A number of answers are suggested for this.
•Some explain that in the Harachaman we are asking on behalf of the public.
•The war of the Chashmona’im was a natural occurrence, and the restriction is only to ask for unnatural events.
•A tzaddik may daven for miracles. The answer about the war is a bit difficult since the fact that we won the war was a huge miracle; therefore, some refer only to the first answer above.
•The Greeks wanted to destroy our spirituality. The aspect of not davening for a miracle applies to physical miracles, not spiritual miracles.
•One is allowed to ask for general miracles, as long as he does not request specific things. This explains why the Harachaman on Chanukah uses a language of “make miracles.” Indeed, many people can say that they had a miracle happen to them as they davened for general miracles for themselves.
•In the Harachaman we are asking for the world to be as it is supposed to be, the righteous over the wicked, so it is not a miracle we are asking for but for the nature of the world to go back to its correct manner.
•One can daven for a miracle which is done in public since the miracle will bring a kiddush Hashem into the world.
The Gemara says that if one has a sword on his throat he should not refrain from asking for mercy from Hashem. We see from here that when one is in danger he may daven for a miracle because he cannot be saved without it. Asking for a non-essential miracle, such as davening for a boy or girl after one’s wife is forty days into the pregnancy, is not allowed.
After Avraham Avinu fought the kings, he was worried that his merits were depleted by the miracle of winning the war. Hashem assured him that his merits were intact. The Yehoshuas Yaakov derives from here that normally when a miracle happens to a person his merits are lessened. Here, this miracle brought about a kiddush Hashem, and one may ask for such a miracle.
Benefit from a Miracle
It is not permitted to derive benefit from a miracle. One who does benefit from a miracle decreases his merits.
It is brought down that the Jews got rich through the makkah of Dam while in Mitzrayim, as they sold water to the Egyptians. Some claim that all the water was blood and when a Jew took it, the blood turned into water. Since one should not benefit from a miracle, Hashem caused that the miracle occurred in the hands of the Egyptians, when the blood turned into water for them after they bought the water from the Jews. Some also explain that the issue of benefiting from a miracle is for the one to whom the miracle happened, but the Jews gave the money to others and then they gave the money back to them. Others explain that when Hashem shows He wishes for one to have benefit from the miracle, it is allowed. Some mention that since the blood turned back to water, for the Jews it was not a miracle; it was just the water returning back to its state, so it was not considered benefiting from a miracle.
According to this, we can question how the Jews were allowed to benefit from the mann in the desert. Nevertheless, the Jews were allowed to eat the mann since the restriction is limited to an individual, not the public. Others suggest that they had nothing else to eat, so they were allowed to eat the mann.
Some question how it was possible for the Bnei Yisrael to use the oil they found in the Beis Hamikdash to light for Chanukah, if the oil which lasted for eight days was miracle oil, and we are not allowed to benefit from miracles. Since it was for the public, it was allowed.Others mention that the oil which was found in the Beis Hamikdash was the exact oil which lasted for the additional days and there was no new oil which was added to the existing oil.
If one davens and what he wishes for comes through, it is not considering deriving benefit from a miracle.
Moishe Dovid Lebovits
Halachically Speaking – Author
New Business Development – KOF-K Kosher
 Maseches Shabbos 24a. See Rosh, Shabbos 2:14.
 Refer to Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:3.
 Rif, Maseches Shabbos 10b.
 Maseches Shabbos 24a.
 Rambam, Hilchos Brachos 2:6; Tur 682; Beis Yosef 682; Shulchan Aruch 682:1; Levush 1; Chayei Adam 24:24.
 Levush 1; Aruch Hashulchan 1. See Tosafos, Maseches Shabbos 24a, “mazkir.”
 Taz 682:1; Mishnah Berurah 2.
 Ritva, Maseches Shabbos 24a.
 Rashi, Maseches Shabbos 24a, “mah”; Tosafos, Maseches Shabbos 24a, “mahu.” For more on this, see Rivevos Ephraim 6:359.
 Refer to Avnei Nezer, O.C. 507. Those who have the custom not to say a complete chazaras hashatz at Minchah do not do so on Chanukah and Purim so as not to avoid saying Al Hanissim in the repetition on chazaras hashatz (heard in the name of Harav Aharon Kotler zt”l).
 Maseches Shabbos 24a; Tur 682; Beis Yosef 682; Taz 2; Shulchan Aruch 2; Levush 2; Aruch Hashulchan 3.
 Shulchan Aruch 682:2; Magen Avraham 1; Mishnah Berurah 6.
 Tosefta, Maseches Brachos 3:10; Tosafos, Maseches Shabbos 24a, “d’tanya”; Pri Megadim, M.Z. 2. See Beis Yosef 682.
 Yerushalmi, Maseches Brachos 7:4; Ritva, Maseches Shabbos 24a; Tur 682; Rif, Maseches Shabbos 11a; Rosh 15; Beis Yosef 682; Bach, Shulchan Aruch 1; Pri Chadash 1; Chayei Adam 24:24.
 Yalkut Yosef, Tefillas Chanukah 1. If he said it at Minchah before Chanukah began, see Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:11 (opinion of Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l is to be lenient).
 Tzemach Tzedek, Milu’im 11; Pri Hasadeh 3:109; Levushei Mordechai, O.C. 3:59; Yechaveh Da’as 1:77; Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:7; Chayei Moshe 682.
 Eishel Avraham Butchatch 682:1.
 Ohr Yisrael 27:14.
 Shulchan Aruch 682:1; Mishnah Berurah 3; Aruch Hashulchan 3; Kaf Hachaim 7.
 Tur 682; Beis Yosef 682.
 Tur 682; Shulchan Aruch 682:1; Aruch Hashulchan 3. See Mekor Chaim 682:1; Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:9.
 Bach 682; Yechaveh Da’as 5:49. Refer to Radvaz 1:561 which says he can say it there if he likes. Also see Piskei HaRosh, Maseches Brachos 4:17 which says going back when you don’t have to is a brachah in vain.
 Sha’ar Hatzion 2. See Chaim Shaul, O.C. 1:75:3; Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:10.
 Nesivos Hatefillah 18:10:footnote 13.
 Mishnah Berurah 208:59.
 Rambam, Hilchos Brachos 2:6; Tur 682; Beis Yosef 682; Shulchan Aruch 682:1; Levush 1; Aruch Hashulchan 1.
 Levush 1; Aruch Hashulchan 1.
 Beis Yosef 682; Mishnah Berurah 2; Kaf Hachaim 2.
 Maseches Shabbos 24a, “mahu.”
 Rashi, Maseches Shabbos “b’birchos”; Ritva, Maseches Shabbos 24a.
 Ritva, Maseches Shabbos 24a; Tur 682; Beis Yosef 682; Bach; Rif, Maseches Shabbos 11a; Rosh 15; Shulchan Aruch 682:1; Levush 1; Pri Chadash 1; Aruch Hashulchan 3; Likutei Maharich, Chanukah.
 Shulchan Aruch 188:7; Pri Chadash 682:1; Pri Megadim, M.Z. 2; Mishnah Berurah 3.
 Some mention to say this when one reaches the first Harachaman (see Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:6). Others say to say it when one reaches Harachaman Hu Yezakeinu (see Ohr Yisrael 27:footnote 1132). On Rosh Chodesh during Chanukah one should say it after the Harachaman for Rosh Chodesh (Mishnah Berurah 682:5; Kaf Hachaim 13).
 Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:6.
 This should be said after Harachaman Hu Yechadesh (Mishnah Berurah 682:5).
 Kol Bo 25; Shulchan Aruch 187:4; Beis Yosef 682; Rema 1; Levush 1; Aruch Hashulchan 3.
 Taz 3; Mishnah Berurah 3; Aruch Hashulchan 3.
 Pri Megadim, M.Z. 3.
 Mishnas Yosef 5:116:3; opinion of Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a, quoted in Ohr Yisrael 38:page 103:16.
 Elyah Rabbah 2; Ma’amar Mordechai 3; Machatzis Hashekel 1; Machzik Brachah 4; Mishnah Berurah 4.
 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:17.
 Shulchan Aruch 208:12; Elyah Rabbah 21; Levush 12; Gra 208:12; Mishnah Berurah 59; Elyah Rabbah 682:1; Machatzis Hashekel 1; Mishnah Berurah 2; Likutei Maharich, Chanukah; Moadim U’zmanim 8:2:148:page 36; Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:1, 4, 6:359; Tzitz Eliezer 9:33. For those who argue see Yufei L’lev 682:1; Ruach Chaim 1. Since we see an argument on whether we should say Al Hamichyah on Chanukah, some mention jokingly that this is why we eat potato latkes on Chanukah. In this way we will not bring ourselves to this dispute, by eating items that do not require a Mezonos, such as potato latkes (Moadim U’zmanim 8:2:148:page 36). Some ask why it is mentioned here when it is a halachah mentioned already in Shulchan Aruch 208:12 (see Birur Halachah 682).
 Levush 208:12; Elyah Rabbah 682:1; Machatzis Hashekel 1.
 Divrei Chamudos, Maseches Brachos 6:135.
 Nemukei Orach Chaim 682.
 Ibid.. See Gam Ani Odeicha 1:75.
 For different pronunciations of this tefillah, see Pri Chadash 1; Pri Megadim, M.Z. 1; Sha’arei Teshuvah 1; Elyah Rabbah 1; Pri Megadim Eishel Avraham 1; Ben Ish Chai, Vayeishev 1:25; Yufei L’lev 2:682:2; Moed L’chol Chai 27:68; Aruch Hashulchan 2; Kaf Hachaim 1; Yalkut Yosef, Tefillas Chanukah 9. The Rivevos Ephraim 6:399 says Al Hanissim on Chanukah is shorter than on Purim because there is no megillah read on Chanukah which tells of the miracle, so therefore we say a longer Al Hanissim. Refer to Mai Chanukah page 36:1 which mentions that maybe if one is in a hurry we only need to say Al Hanissim and not B’yemei…. In regard to the miracle of Chanukah and why we focus on the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days and not the winning of the war, see Nemukei Orach Chaim 670.
 Mishnah Berurah 1; Aruch Hashulchan 1; Yalkut Yosef, Tefillas Chanukah 1. Others say without a vav. For a detailed discussion on this, see Kovetz Beis Aharon V’Yisrael 74:pages 127-136 in great depth.
 Refer to Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:20.
 Taz 5; Elyah Rabbah 3; Birur Halachah 682. This is not like Levush 2.
 Tur 682; Beis Yosef 682; Shulchan Aruch 682:3.
 Maseches Brachos 34a.
 Tur 682; Beis Yosef 682; Magen Avraham 2; Mishnah Berurah 7; Aruch Hashulchan 2.
 Pri Chadash 3; Mishnah Berurah 7.
 Kaf Hachaim 17.
 Tur 682; Beis Yosef 682; Mishnah Berurah 8.
 Pri Chadash 100:1; Mishnah Berurah 100:1. See Be’er Moshe 3:13 which says one can walk during Shemoneh Esrei and get a siddur in order to recite Al Hanissim inside. However, it is preferable to hint to someone to pass you a siddur (ibid.).
 Sha’arei Teshuvah 100:2.
 Mishnah Berurah 236:7; Aruch Hashulchan 12; Birur Halachah 682. See Magen Avraham 1; Kaf Hachaim 236:15. Refer to Rivevos Ephraim 1:440:1.
 Aruch Hashulchan 236:12. See Igros Moshe, O.C. 4:16.
 Be’er Moshe 4:10.
 Sho’alin V’dorshin 5:60; Ashrei Ha’ish 3:pages 273-274, quoting the opinion of Harav Elyashiv zt”l. See Doleh U’mashkeh page 241:footnote 643. Also see Halichos Shlomo Moadim 2:17:7:footnote 17 which brings the opinion of Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l who argues. Refer to Ner Ish U’Beisah pages 275-279.
 Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 188:10; see Magen Avraham 18; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 44:17; Mishnah Berurah 34.
 Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 188:10; see Pri Megadim Eishel Avraham 18; Chayei Adam 118:4; Mishnah Berurah 33.
 Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 188:10; Be’er Heitiv 8. Refer to Ohr Yisrael 27:11. See Beis Yosef 188; Taz 7.
 Refer to Pri Megadim Eishel Avraham 188:13; Chayei Adam 154:39; Sha’ar Hatzion 188:21; Birur Halachah 682. See Rivevos Ephraim 1:445, 2:185:2. For a differing view see Magen Avraham 188:13; Shulchan Aruch 188:14; Kaf Hachaim 36; Be’er Sarim 6:53:2.
 Refer to Maseches Brachos 60a. See Maseches Ta’anis 24a; Bava Metzia 42a; Yerushalmi Maseches Brachos 9:3. Refer to Sefer Chassidim 974.
 Nemukei Orach Chaim 682. Refer to Baruch She’amar Tefillas Hashanah page 187, who explains based on the concept of a miracle minimizing your merits the answer we say to one who bentches gomel.
 Maseches Brachos 60a. See Maharsha, Maseches Niddah 31a, “v’eis.”
 Refer to Aruch Hashulchan 230:3.
 Maseches Brachos 60a; see Rambam, Hilchos Brachos 10:25; Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 230:1-2; Rav Akiva Eiger 230:1; Aruch Hashulchan 3; Rivevos Ephraim 2:185:15.
 Sha’arei Teshuvah 187:2, quoting the Bechor Shor in Maseches Shabbos 21b. See Minchas Hachag 1:6.
 Sha’arei Teshuvah ibid. See Yalkut Yosef, Tefillas Chanukah 7.
 Sha’arei Teshuvah ibid.
 Nemukei Orach Chaim 682.
 Moadim U’zmanim 2:148.
 Tuv Ta’am Vada’as 3:2:198:pages 167-168. See Tiferes Shmuel, Chanukah pages 101-102.
 Baruch She’amar Tefillas Hashanah page 214.
 Maseches Brachos 10a.
 Einayim L’mishpat, Maseches Brachos 60a, “ein.” Refer to Torah Sheb’al Peh 37:pages 87-97.
 Magen Avraham 230:1; Machatzis Hashekel 1; Mishnah Berurah 1; Aruch Hashulchan 3.
 Maseches Brachos 60; Rambam, Hilchos Brachos 10:22; Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 230:1.
 Birchos Refael, Chanukah 67; see Even Pinah 2:80.
 Rashi, Maseches Ta’anis 24a “eleh.” This is rabbinic in nature (Pardes Yosef on Shemos 7:page 51). There is a Rashi in Maseches Ta’anis 24b “omar,” which says “one should further himself” from benefiting from a miracle. Some explain that Rashi is referring to when it is a public situation. The Sedei Chemed Mareches Ha’alef Pe’as Hasadeh 87 brings opinions on this. For a discussion on the Bnei Yisrael enjoying the water from the well of Miriam, see Umkah D’parshah 5772.
 Maseches Ta’anis 20b.
 Shemos Rabbah 9:1.
 Ibin Ezra, Shemos 7:24.
 Some explain that the water turning into blood in the hands of the Egyptians was the miracle since the ocean water is usually water and not blood, and it was not having enjoyment from a miracle when the Jews sold water to them because the miracle was not for the Jews (Siach HaPesach page 92, quoting the opinion of Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a).
 For a discussion on this, see Pardes Yosef on Shemos 7:page 51.
 This is the case with the mann (see below), as well as the Gemara which mentions that a man was able to feed his child just as a woman (Maseches Shabbos 53b, see Maharsha, Maseches Shabbos ibid.). This idea is expressed in Toras Chaim page 240:9 (Harav Sonnenfeld zt”l).
 Umkah D’parshah 5771.
 Shemos 16:4-15. Refer to Pardes Yosef, Shemos page 121. See Birchas Yitzchak 2:pages 234-235.
Some mention since the mishnah in Maseches Avos 5:6 says that mann was created during twilight on Erev Shabbos during the six days of Creation, then the mann is part of nature and not a miracle (Tiv Haparshah, Shemos page 134). In regard to the mann and its brachah, see Pardes Yosef ibid.
 Nachal Kedumim, Shemos 15:17; Mitzpeh Eisan, Maseches Ta’anis 24b; Sedei Chemed Mareches Ha’alef Klalim 380; Machaneh Chaim, C.M. 19; Even Pinah 2:80; Pardes Yosef ibid.; Kochvei Yitzchak 1:6:12.
 Nachal Kedumim ibid. The same is true for the food which Rav Shimon bar Yochai and his son ate (Maseches Shabbos 33b). For more on this, see Tiv Haparshah, Shemos ibid.
 Sefer Hachaim, O.C. 670; Yemei Shemonah page 412:9. Based on this question some mention that this is why there is no mitzvah to have a seudah on Chanukah (Bnei Yissaschar 4:Hallel V’Hodah 124).
 Mikra’ei Kodesh (Hadras Kodesh), Chanukah 7:2. For a discussion on this, see Kovetz Beis Aharon V’Yisrael 117:page 153; Menuchas Shalom 11:11:page 38. Some suggest that since this issue is rabbinic in nature it did not apply in the Beis Hamikdash (Kovetz ibid:page 154).
 Yitziv Pisgam Chanukah page 13. For more on this, see Madanei Osher (journal) 200, Parshas Vayishlach. Refer to Machzik Brachah 677:3; Minchas Osher, Chanukah page 12; She’eilas Chemdas Tzvi 4:24.
 Maharsha, Maseches Kiddushin 29b.