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Hanukah // Not Enough Oil

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The miracle of Hanukkah involved both a military victory against a super-power and a miracle of the little jug of oil. The oil used in the Temple was spiritually and ritually pure olive oil. During the period when the Syrian-Greeks occupied the Holy City and the Temple they intentionally defiled the pure oil in order to prevent the Jewish people from performing their service to G-d in the way prescribed by the Torah. When the Temple was recaptured, the Hashmonaim family of Kohanim (Priests) cleaned up the Temple environs and rededicated the Temple. The little flask of oil, which was enough for one day, lasted 8 days attesting to the miraculous providence Hashem provides to His chosen people.  One might ask, "Why a miracle with oil? Why a miracle of light?"


   We can learn a lot from the nature of oil. It is derived through a process of pressing olives, while the wicks used to light the oil are made by beating flax. The light that is produced represents the wisdom of the Torah. Success in Torah does not come easy. It requires a struggle against one's baser, pleasure-seeking nature. To create "light" one needs to "crush" and "beat" the baser instincts.


    The day the Hashmonaim discovered the oil they faced a dilemma. They wanted to resume perfect service to G-d and yet they did not have enough oil to complete the task at hand. Yet they poured in the oil and lit the wicks. Miraculously, G-d provided the energy to keep the flames burning for eight days until additional oil could be delivered. Many people feel that they don't have enough of what it takes to succeed in the spiritual realm of Torah and Misvot. They see libraries full of books packed with knowledge that cannot be learned in a lifetime. They see others who are quicker than them in grasping difficult religious concepts. They see others who have the background from childhood that they feel they lack. "How can I ever do it?" they ask.


    The trick is to try. The Hanukkah miracle came about through the blind faith and devotion of a group of people who did not stop to ask how. They didn't measure the potential for victory in a logical or sensible way. They started the fight and prayed to G-d that they would be successful. Every year as we commemorate the victory of the weak over the strong and the few over the many we must integrate into our psyches the ability to discard logic and start to tackle a task that seems insurmountable. If we do --G-d will do the rest as He did time and time again in our history. It only takes a minute to commit to attempt the impossible --but it is that commitment that creates heavenly assistance and success.




DID YOU KNOW THAT


The misvah of the lighting is accomplished when the flame rises from the wick. Therefore, should the flame extinguish, even before the required time of hour after nightfall, the lights do not have to be re-lit. Even if the lights go out before the onset of the Shabbat on a Friday afternoon, a person is not required to re-light the flame. If a person would like to be stringent, then one may relight the lights. A person must be careful, however, to place enough oil in the Menorah before lighting in order to last the required time of hour after nightfall. For these purposes,


nightfall is estimated at about twenty minutes after sunset. [Source, Shulhan Arukh, Siman 673:2]



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