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Section: Moadim   Category: Chanukah
The War Of The Candles

The Bais Yosef famously asks why if there was enough oil for one day do we celebrate the Nes of the Chanuka for eight days since only seven days were a miracle. One of the answers given is that the eighth day is in celebration for the victory in war. But this begs the question why do we celebrate the victory with a an extra light? Another issue that is unclear is what is the essence of the Chanukah miracle, is it the war or the oil? In Al HaNissim we focus on the war but the mitzva of Chanukah is all about the oil, so which is it?

The Nesivos Shalom of Slonim explains that the defilement of the oil by the Yavanim was not incidental to the war, it was the main objective and at the heart of the war on Judaism. Before creation, only the light of Hashem existed. Creation meant Hashem creating a pseudo-darkness, the appearance of space devoid of Hashem's presence. Humanity is tasked with seeing the light of Hashem through the darkness, and Klal Yisroel is meant to lead the way. Since creation Bnei Yisroel's mission has been to inject the light of Hashem into the world. "Yehi Ohr" refers to the light of Hashem.

The Medrash says that the pasuk referring to the earliest stage of the world's existence, "V'Choshech Al Pnei Sihom", darkness upon the abyss, refers to Yavan. Yavan is the nemesis of Bnei Yisroel. Yavan's credo has been to keep the light out. Greek culture worships nature and humanity believing that the created world is the end to itself and all that exists. It believes that we are all G-d and no power above and apart from us rules us. Yavan celebrates to power of man's ability. Life is everything and death is the end. Greek culture is the ultimate darkness.

The Menora is the symbol of the light of Hashem in creation. It is the light that gives life to the Jewish nation. It is light, as Chazal say, that enable us to see from one end of the world to the other, through all the darkness and beyond the distractions. It is this light that the Yevanim so desperately want to extinguish for it reveals the triviality, shallowness, and emptiness of their entire world. To play on a phrase of Chazal we jump and they jump, we jump and soar past the Heavens while they jump and land flat on their face. We earn medals and they earn medals. Our medals gives us a piece of eternity far beyond the boundaries of this transient world while their medals hang on the wall and don't follow them to their grave.

This Chanukah like we did over two thousand years we light our candles in the darkness under the threat of the Yevanim. May we all lighten up our own lives and stand tall and proud, appreciating the beauty of our ways and our tradition, filling up our days and lives with true substance. And just like the Chashmanaim who prevailed despite being outnumbered and overpowered by the forces of evil who stood shoulder to shoulder with the majority of Jews who joined their side, we too will prevail. A little light will cast away the darkest shadow and truth will reign supreme.

RELATED ARTICLES:Bais Yosef's Chanuka question  Chanuka  Greek  Nesivos Sholom

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