By Rabbi Bryan Kinzbrunner
Wilf Campus Chaplain
Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple in 167 BCE. The Seleucid Greeks, in their attempts to “Hellenize” the Jewish people, conquered Judaea, took over the operations of the Second Temple and introduced foreign worship practices within the Temple confines. The Hasmoneans, a priestly family and their allies fought back, eventually retaking the Temple from the Greeks.
Part of the rededication story as described in the Talmud revolves around the lighting of the Temple’s menorah. The Menorah was to be lit daily, using only the purest of olive oil which was kept in small jars that were sealed to prevent the oil from becoming ritually impure. When the Hasmoneans retook the Temple, they wanted to begin relighting the Menorah. The only problem was that they only found one unsealed jar of olive oil. This would have enough for one day’s worth of oil. They did not have enough to sustain the daily task until such time as new jars of olive oil could be sent to the Temple. They decided to move forward with the lighting and miraculously, the menorah remained lit for eight days.
In reflecting on the idea of rededication and Hanukkah, there is a message regarding the miracle of oil lasting that is a metaphor for life. Life is a series of growth moments. When we are searching for ways to change, we often search and search, seemingly in a futile way. We almost never find the one spark that guides us forward on the path we wish to take. Yet, just like the Hasmoneans were able to find the one unsealed jar, so too, if we keep searching and striving, we can find that spark as well. And just like the oil from the jar far outlasted all expectations and burned for eight days, so too the one spark, the one small step along the right path can potentially lead us to the greater miracle of real, sustained change and growth in our own lives.
May this Hanukkah season be one of personal growth and renewal through bringing more light into the world.