A Miracle In Our Time

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How long did the miracle of Chanukah last?

A) 7 days, B) 8 Days, C) Over 2000 Years

How long did the miracle of Chanukah last?

A) 7 days
B) 8 Days
C) Over 2000 Years


7 or 8 days: The Maccabees found enough oil to kindle the menorah for one day. This means that naturally there was enough oil to burn for a single day. So of the eight days, the miracle only occurred for seven days

So why does the tradition teach that the miracle of Chanukah is “..all eight days..”, and not seven days?

Rabbi Yosef Karo (16th century Israel) offered three possible answers, and scholars have offered an endless stream of answers through the years. There is even a book called “Ner L’meah,” by Rabbi Yerachmiel Zeltzer, that lists 100 answers to this question!

Some of the answers include:

(1) The oil was divided in eight parts, and the Kohanim lit only one-eighth of the oil each night. But this small amount miraculously burned throughout each of the eight nights – including the first night. (Beit Yosef)

(2) Since the Temple had been desecrated, the Maccabees lit their Menorah outside in the courtyard. Normally, a flame exposed to the open air will burn more quickly than one sheltered indoors. Nevertheless, on all eight nights, the oil burned as long outdoors as it would have inside the Temple. (Chasam Sofer)

(3) Having returned to the Temple and found it in shambles, the Maccabees had no reason to think they would find pure oil. But they were so eager to perform the mitzvah of lighting the Menorah, that they began what seemed like a hopeless search – and they succeeded! This commitment to battle all odds for the sake of a mitzvah is what we commemorate on the first day of Chanukah. (Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik)

(4) The first day commemorates the miraculous military victory. (Pri Chadash, Kedushas Levi)

(5) We tend to take “nature” for granted, yet the burning of oil is inherently no less miraculous than would be the burning of water. Therefore, the first day commemorates that even the “normal” burning of oil takes place only because God created it so. (Rabbi David Feinstein)

Another perspective:

Over 2000 Years “A little light can dispel a lot of darkness”. Chanukah is the festival of lights. It is a time when we focus on illuminating the world with positive light. The message of the lights of Chanukah speak of our survival, and our mission to illuminate our surroundings, even in the darkest of places.

Ever since the first Chanukah occurred over 2000 years ago, Jewish history has journeyed through the darkest shadows. The message of Chanukah has always inspired us and given us the strength to endure, survive and even thrive. I suggest that the miracle of Chanukah, which represents our survival against all odds, began with the 8 days of light in the Temple, yet the light still burns each and every year and gives us the strength and orientation to keep growing and moving forward.