Chanukah is called the festival of lights, but sometimes light in Judaism is not only speaking about literal light but also understanding. HaShem did the miracle that He did in the Temple with the menorah for a specific reason. In actuality the miracle of the oil lasting eight days instead of just one is not the real miracle of Chanukah. The real miracle was the victory of a small group of men over the Greek Empire.
The Greek Empire demanded that all people become Hellenized. They outlawed Torah observance and demanded that Jewish individuals assimilate and become like gentiles. For the majority of Jewish people this was not a problem. Scholars estimate however, that nearly half did not want to stop being culturally Jewish. Here is the important issue. A high percentage of those Jewish individuals that did not want to Hellenize felt this way, not because of an allegiance to G-d, but because they did not want to stop being Jewish.
Today in Israel and throughout Jewish communities abroad, many Jewish individuals live culturally Jewish, but are not interested in serving G-d and basing their lives on the Word of G-d. Although they embrace certain aspects of Torah—they circumcise their sons, acknowledge in some manner the Jewish holidays, and keep other traditions related to Judaism—they do not have a faith in the G-d of Israel and even deny that G-d exists.
Many of these same types of individuals nearly 2,200 years ago joined with the Priestly family called the Maccabians to fight the Greek army. Whereas the Maccabians and others did so in faithfulness to HaShem, others did so to simply preserve culturally “Jewish” people.
One should know that the term “Jew” comes from the name Judah, which Leah named her forth child. It is clear from the context (see Genesis 29:35) the term “Jew” or “Judah” means “to give thanks”, “to confess”, and “to praise” G-d. Hence a Jewish person is one who acknowledges the G-d of Israel and worships Him in a spirit of thanksgiving. It is this behavior that G-d has called our people to lead the world in doing.
Due to the faith of the Maccabians and other Jewish individuals that fought the Greeks out of their desire to serve / worship the G-d of Israel, G-d moved in a supernatural way to bring victory to Israel. It was the military victory that was the miracle of Chanukah.
The miracle of the one flask of oil that was only enough for one day, but lasted for eight days, occurred to confirm that the military victory was from the hand of G-d. One must ask the question why the oil and the menorah and why not some other miracle? The menorah has an inherent relationship to the “kaporet” in the Holy of Holies. The “kaporet” is the covering (lid) for the Ark of the Covenant. The “kaporet” was made out of solid gold like that of the menorah. Scripture tells us that G-d use to dwell in the Holy of Holies above the “kaporet” (see Numbers 7:89). The menorah was lit each day at the being of the evening. It burned to remind the people that
G-d was with them (in the Holy of Holies).
The miracle of the oil and menorah reminded the people that HaShem was with them in the war with the Greeks and He was the cause of the victory. It also showed that
G-d uses faithful people that trust in Him to bring about His presence and blessing into this world.
One of the main things that a person should grasp from the message of Chanukah is this: That G-d will do miracles to call people back to Him and away from a lifestyle that is devoid of His will and blessings.
Chanukah Semeach (Happy Holiday)!
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