The Real Miracle of Chanukah
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From Rabbi David
Most people think that the miracle of Chanukah is that the oil lasted for eight days. Sure - that must have been impressive if there had only been enough oil for one day, but is that really worth a full eight-day holiday?
Seems to me there has to be something more, something bigger. If you think about it, even that miracle is smaller than it seems. The miracle isn't that the oil lasted for eight full days. Remember, there was enough oil for one day. So the miracle was that the oil for one day lasted an additional seven days. Chanukah isn't even an eight day miracle - it's a seven day miracle, unless there's something special about that first day.
You won't be surprised to learn that I think that first day is actually more special than the other seven and that the real miracle of Chanukah happened on that first day when they had enough oil to light the menorah in the Temple.
The Jews of Jerusalem knew they wouldn't be able to complete the work of cleaning up the Temple and finding more oil by the end of the day so why even bother trying? Why light the menorah at all if it's just going to burn out at the end of the day, the job remaining unfinished? The real miracle was that they lit it at all.
Chanukah is as much about our faith in ourselves and the miracles we can bring about as it is about our faith in God and God's miracles. In fact, God's miracle of keeping the light of the menorah burning wouldn't have even happened without our miracle of having enough faith to light it in the first place.
For all of the times we have looked at the darkness in the world and wondered how God could allow pain and suffering, Chanukah reminds us that we are the kindlers of lights. It is only when we have faith that the light we bring into the world has the capacity to change the world that God picks up the torch, so to speak, and partners with us to expand our light so that we have the time to do the sacred work of tikkun olam - repairing our world.