Monday, December 14, 2009

Shabbos Chanukah and Selling a Beis Kur

By: Meoros Hadaf Hayomi

An ancient, anonymous song for Shabbos Chanukah, Ichlu Mashmanim, appears in siddurim and is chanted in some communities. The whole composition sings the praises of food, meals, meat dishes, wine and miscellaneous culinary delights to be consumed on that Shabbos and the line ending each stanza goes: “A beis kur sell or lease; rent a beis kur for Shabbos Chanukah!”

In his Responsa (137), Mahari of Bruna, a pupil of the Terumas HaDeshen, remarks that no Torah scholar could have written the song as a Chanukah meal is not defined as a se’udas mitzvah. Others even stress that only foolhardy people could have composed it, as evident from its contents (Orchos Chayim, 670:8). On the other hand, some rebbes, such as Rebbe Pinchas of Koritz zt”l, sang it on Shabbos Chanukah and a few scholars attribute it to Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra as the initial letters of its lines form Avraham. Those favoring the song were somehow able to lend its contents a spiritual connotation and some surmise that beis kur is used as a pun: In Old French a yard for raising and fattening poultry was called a bas court (“low courtyard” – the final s was then, as in certain dialects today, pronounced). The message, then, is “Sell your beis kur” – your field – and rent a bas court for Shabbos Chanukah.