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100% pure - nothing less

by Rabbi Ari Shishler


Library » Holidays » Chanukah » About | Subscribe | What is RSS?


We all know the Chanukah story.

Or, do we?

Here are some of the misconceptions:

1) There was no oil to be found anywhere in the Temple. The miracle was that they managed to find one small jug- just in time to light the Menorah.

Actually, the place was full of jugs of oil; it's just that not one of them still carried the seal of the Kohen Gadol (High priest), so they were technically impure. The miracle was that they eventually found one jug of pure oil.

Which brings us to the next misconception...

2) It is Halachically unacceptable to use impure oil to light the Menorah in the Temple.

In truth, there is Halachic provision for using impure oil for the Menorah, if there is no pure oil available.

What then- you ask- was the big deal about not finding oil with the special seal?

The Hellenist attack against Judaism focused on our absolute, often irrational commitment to Hashem and His Torah. They couldn't accept that we wouldn't do away with those areas of Judaism that seem to simply make no sense. That's why they attacked the seals on the oil- the sign of spiritual purity, which they claimed was imagined. They expected us to level with them and acknowledge only the logical aspects of Jewish life.

But, a Jew's relationship with G-d is absolute. It begins at eight-days old, before the rational mind is activated, and sits at the essence of his/her Self until our last breath. A Jews and his religion can never be separated. Jew and G-d share a super-rational bond.

Chanukah illustrates this bond. Even when there is rational basis within Judaism to settle for a compromised connection to G-d, the Jewish soul insists that nothing less than the absolute purest expression of that bond will do.

And, when you commit yourself to G-d unconditionally, miracles occur.


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Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
According to Jewish law.
"The Name." Out of respect, we do not explicitly mention G-d's name, unless in the course of prayer. Instead, "Hashem" is substituted.
Candelabra. Usually a reference to the nine-branched candelabra kindled on the holiday of Chanukah.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.