This week we ushered in the holiday of Hanukkah. Each year on Hanukkah I am reminded of a nagging question. We are told we celebrate Hanukkah for eight days because there was only enough kosher oil to last for one day and it lasted for eight. If there was enough oil to last for one day, then perhaps we should only celebrate Hanukkah for seven days. The miracle did not kick in until the second day.
I read recently that someone has a list of over one hundred possible answers to this question. One of the answers I like best comes from Rabbi Michael Strassfeld’s book, Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary. There he writes:
“To my mind, the answer that comes closest to the meaning of the Hanukkah is that the miracle the first day was the deep faith that it took to light the menorah, knowing there was not enough oil for eight days. The same faith led the Maccabees to revolt against impossible odds, to strike like hammers and scatter sparks of revolt to the hills of Judea. They believed they would prevail “not by strength, or by power, but through My spirit-says the Lord.” This faith allowed them to light the menorah, and it is the faith that made it burn for eight days. It is the miracle of faith despite darkness, and of belief in the growth of light in the depths of winter.”
Finding faith in times of adversity is truly a miracle. This year as we light our Hanukkah candles, may we find the faith of the Maccabees to help guide us through darkness. May the light of the candles give us warmth of spirit and remind us of preciousness of freedom.
Hag Urim Samayach