Finding Our Jug of Oil
One of the two main miracles celebrated on Chanukah, is the discovery of the jug of oil that burned for eight days instead of just one (the other being the victory of the few over the many).
Like every aspect of Torah and our sacred tradition, this is not just a historic tale from the Temple era, but something that should inspire us even today, more than 2100 years after these events.
So I want to share something meaningful I learned that you may enjoy as well.
It starts with the Greeks. Their fight against the Jews wasn’t primarily one of military conquest. Nor was it only the attempt to stop the Jews from practicing their traditions. In fact, the Greeks were even fine if we studied Torah. But they wanted us to treat it as any human wisdom. Not G-d’s wisdom. They could even accept Jews lighting the Menorah. After all, every culture has its own unique practices. What they would not accept however, was our insistence that these were G-d given and sacred acts, and that the Menorah needed to be kindled with a special "holy" oil.
So the Greeks “defiled” the oil supplies in the Temple, and when the Jews returned to Jerusalem they couldn’t find any pure oil left. Finally after an exhaustive search, we uncovered one jug of oil that remained untouched, holy and pure. This was used to begin rekindling the Menorah.
In our personal lives too, we each have that one jug of oil that remains constantly pure. Despite the ups and downs of life, the spiritual, emotional and material challenges we face, and no matter how distant and despondent we may feel at times - we will always have that jug of oil, the essence of our soul, which remains holy, connected and sacred.
It's always there. Sometimes we just need to find it and ignite it. As soon as we do, we can rekindle our menorah, and begin shining brightly again.
Two of the most heartwarming letters I got for Chanukah really drove home this message for me, so I'll share some of them here: "...I also wanted to thank you for the Menorah. We lit it tonight. I haven't practiced in more than 30 years..." and "...this Hanukkah is very special, it’s the first one that my husband has ever observed. I can never get through the blessings without tears for speaking Hebrew moves me in a way that I can’t explain. Thank you Rabbi Alperowitz for helping us observe Hanukkah this year. You have blessed us in a way I can’t express."
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Rabbi Mendel Alperowitz Blog
Serving the spiritual needs of the South Dakota Jewish community. Based in Sioux Falls and travels the state.