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Ask The Rabbi: 8 Reasons for 8 Days


The Chanuka miracle: A flask with one night’s oil burned for 8 nights. But being that there was oil for one night, the miracle actually lasted only 7 nights. So why is Chanuka 8 nights?

AskTheRabbi.org answered:

Good question! I’ll give you 8 reasons.

  1. They divided one night’s oil into eight portions. Miraculously, each portion lasted an entire night.
  2. The Greeks ransacked the Temple many days in search of oil to defile. Despite their strength and numbers they overlooked one flask. A few weak, battle-weary Jews found it immediately.
  3. Seven days commemorate the miracle of the oil, and one day commemorates the miracle that a few weak Jewish soldiers defeated the mighty Greek legions.
  4. Wanting the oil to last, they made the wicks one-eighth of the normal thickness. Nevertheless, the flames burned just as brightly as if the wicks had been the normal thickness.
  5. The golden Menorah in the Temple was ritually impure. So were all the Jewish soldiers, having come in contact with death on the battlefield. Therefore, they were forced to make a temporary earthenware Menorah, because earthenware is more resistant to impurity. But earthenware is porous, and when it’s new it absorbs a small but significant part of any oil put in it. Therefore, one night’s oil for a gold Menorah was not sufficient for an earthenware menorah because some of the oil is lost to absorption.
  6. In one account, the text reads “and there wasn’t enough (oil) it to burn even one day…”
  7. Chanuka occurred in the year 3622 (139 BCE). Calendar calculations and other historical sources indicate that the 25th of Kislev, the first day of Chanuka, fell on Shabbat that year. Therefore, they needed to light the menorah before sunset Friday night, and consequently needed a little more than a night’s-worth of oil.
  8. The commandment to light the Menorah with pure oil is written in the Torah (Leviticus, chapters 23 and 24) immediately after the commandment to observe the Succot festival for 8 days (7 days of Succot followed by Shemini Atzeret). The Sages saw this as a Divine hint that Chanuka should be for 8 days.

Happy Chanuka!

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