When describing the miracle of Chanukah, the Talmud in Maseches Shabbos, speaks primarily of the miraculous oil that burned for eight days. The Talmud does not make mention of what most would consider a more significant miracle, the military and spiritual victory of the Chashmona’im. They not only defeated the mighty Syrian-Greek Empire, but they restored a Torah way of life for thousands of Jews who had assimilated into Greek culture and society. The obvious question to be asked is: Why are our Sages choosing to highlight the miracle of the oil over the miraculous military victory? Why all the emphasis on the oil miracle?
Rav Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook (1865-1935) provides a beautiful explanation:
“Within every single Jew exists an aspect of priesthood because, collectively, the Jewish People are a priestly nation and a holy people, and they are joined by the inner desire for a life of holiness and to know the secrets of the Torah. This quality remains safely hidden deep within the heart of each and every Jew. This small container, the hidden inner eternal holiness, which is sealed with the seal of the high priest, this inner holiness could not be contaminated by the Syrian-Greeks!”
The miracle of the pach shemen, the cruse of oil, as understood by Rav Kook, contains a much deeper message. It is not in the extended flammability of a small cruse of actual olive oil, but rather the sudden awareness of the flame that burns inside of each of us as Jews, which can never be extinguished. This is the deeper message of the oil miracle and the reason it is the centerpiece of the Chanukah experience. Each of us is a personal Beis HaMikdash, a Temple, in a state of disrepair (the extent of disrepair differs from person to person), and it is on Chanukah that we follow in the footsteps of our ancestors. We sift through the life debris and find our jug of pure, holy, and luminescent spiritual potential. There are times in life when we look in the mirror and can barely see the spark of G-d inside of us. On the Yom Tov of Chanukah, we look within ourselves. No matter how badly I falter in life, there is still a beautiful holiness inside of me. I must have the courage to look for it and, once I find it, the strength to ignite it.
May the lights of our Chanukah inspire us to tap into the inner light, the tucked-away jar of pure oil that burns within each of our hearts.
List of People Who Need a r’fuah sh’leimah (a complete recovery)
Please recite Psalms 20, 30, 88, 121, and 130.
Shmaryahu ben Raizel Shoshanah Miriam
Yisrael ben Raizel Shoshanah Miriam
Eliyahu ben Rachel
Yosef Yechiyeh ben Devorah
Yitzchak ben Dafna
Moshe Shlomo HaLevi ben Hinda
Gavriel ben Yael
Tziporah bas Fruma
Tovah Yocheved bas Esther Bukas
Ruchama Perel Malkah Leah bas Chanah Serel
Esther Hadassah bas Devorah
Shanaz bas Sarah
Moran Zohara bas Guila
Ethel Golda bas Sheindel Gitel
Blima bas Lozah
Leah bas Beila