A Chanukah menorah is lit in commemoration of two miracles. (Shutterstock) (Shutterstock)
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Chanukah teaches us not to forget that God is responsible for everything that happens around us – the obvious miracles as well as those that are not so obvious.

When the Talmud discusses the story of Chanukah, it only tells of the miracle of the single flask of kosher oil that was found in the Holy Temple. As we know, there was only enough oil to last one day, yet a miracle occurred, and it lasted eight days, which was exactly how long it took to get more oil. It is noted, however, that the Talmud does not discuss the military victory of the Maccabees over the Greeks.

On the other hand, in our daily prayers, the liturgy focuses on the military victory and barely mentions the miracle of the oil.

Which was the miracle of Chanukah, the oil or the military victory? Why aren’t both mentioned everywhere?

It is explained that there are two types of miracles that God performs. Some defy the laws of nature, while others do not. Both are Divine, but unfortunately,  those that defy nature are more obvious.

The primary miracle of Chanukah was the defeat of our enemies and the restoration of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and religious freedom. The reason we emphasize this miracle in our prayers is because it had more of an impact on our lives. However, if this were the only miracle, there would surely be skeptics who would deny God’s hand in the military victory of the few against the many. They would attribute the success of the Maccabees to superior strategies, better training and motivated soldiers, leaving God out of the picture.

The miracle of the oil, however, was undeniable. Nothing in nature can explain how one day’s worth of oil could last for eight days.This miracle was clearly from God, and as such, helps highlight God’s role in the military victory as well.

For this reason the Talmud emphasizes the miracle of the lights. In order to draw attention to God’s involvement in everything, the scholars emphasized the obvious miracle.

Chanukah teaches us not to forget that God is responsible for everything that happens around us – the obvious miracles as well as those that are not so obvious.

By Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

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