Who cares about the oil?

What is your Chanukah? ” Asks the Talmud. The answer is yes.

“When the Greeks entered the temple, they began to quench all the oil. Then, when the royal Hasmonia family became strong and victorious over them, they searched and found only one jar of pure oil sealed with the seal of the high priest – enough to light a manderabra for one day. A miracle occurred, and they lighted the menu with this oil for eight days. The following year, they established these [eight days] Like holidays and Thanksgiving.

According to the Talmud, the festival of Chanukah is less about a military victory over a small group of Jews in one of the world’s most powerful wars and a miracle of oil. This is strange. The oil miracle seems to have little significance in terms of military victory.

This was a miracle that only a few priests saw behind the doors of the temple, and it was a religious event that had no effect on life, death, or freedom. If Jews had been defeated by the Greeks, there would be no Jews today; What if the oil had not burned for eight days?

One of the most profound answers to this question was provided by Rabbi Judas Leo (1512-1607), known as Prague Maharal.

Let us take a look at the nature of the conflict between the Greeks and the Jews. The Greeks were, in many ways, a very bright people. Say they love science and logic; Have created logical thinking and reduction systems; He was passionate about philosophy, biology, mathematics, and developed literature, art, architecture, sports, and athletics. The Greeks emphasized the power of reason and the importance of the individual’s conscience.

This was the cause of Hellenism, for most Jews in those days. Their Weltanschauung fascinated the Jews.

However, there was a big difference between Judaism and Greek wisdom.

The ultimate goal for the Greeks was to discover the laws of nature, the science of the universe, and the dynamics of existence. The ultimate goal of Judaism is to understand the existence of God by understanding the world around us, to see the existence of God “through the windows.” Looking out the window

The Greeks considered the existence of the world to be an ordinary thing. Their focus was on living things. The Jews did not take life lightly. They asked questions not only about the nature of existence but also about the origin, meaning, purpose, and priority of existence.

The difference is not just academic; On the contrary, it has some amazing effects. For the Greek people, we live in a natural world. Although God exists, He must understand that He is the “first cause”, who works the clock, but then the clock strikes itself. God is divorced from nature.

For the Jews, there is unity in the world – every aspect of the world is a manifestation of God. We live in God’s world. Nature is also a manifestation of divine will and power.

Now we understand the need for an oil miracle, says Maharal. If the oil miracle had not taken place, people would have said that military victory was only natural. Sometimes a few win over many; Sometimes a David defeats Goliath; Sometimes nature smiles at the lowly one. The Maccabees defeated the fortunes and defeated the Greeks in Jerusalem.

The Maccabees fought a decisive battle and won. Why did he give it to God? What does nature have to do with God?

This was the importance of the oil miracle: an event in which there could be no “natural” scientific explanation. This shows the fact that the Maccabees were brave and brave; But it was the Creator of the universe who gave them victory.

If it had not been for the oil miracle, Maccabees would have won the battle but would have lost it. By the miracle of oil, they not only won the war but also the battle of ideas.

Mendy Gronner is a rabbi of Chabad Glenn Ira.

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