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    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.