The Eighth Candle: We Have Come to Chase the Darkness Away

There are many reasons why we light candles on Hanukkah.  The most known is the little jug of oil that could. There was only enough oil to last for one day but a miracle made it last for eight.  The text that speaks of that event is minor in comparison to the texts that speak of other fantastic moments of Hanukkah. And yet, somehow, that is the story we tell and retell to the exclusion of all others.  Perhaps we had no army and no autonomy for 2000 years so the safest thing we could celebrate was a little jug of oil. Today we have a different Jewish reality.

A beautiful midrash describes what happened when the Hasmoneans liberated the Temple and the fighting was done.  The Temple was dark, the menorah could not be lit. The Jewish soldiers turned their spears upside down, stuck them into the ground and poured oil into the grooves at the top.  They then lit their spears on fire to illuminate the Temple. They turned their weapons into instruments of light.

Hanukkah teaches us that while we must be ready for whatever comes our way, the goal is to bring light into the darkness.

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