Chanukah – Day One

Light will transcend the darkness in our lives when we cast our gaze towards the flame of truth, the eish tamid (eternal light) that plays an essential role in Chanukah. The light of the Menorah in the temple, lit by the small cruze of oil found amidst the debris in the Temple, is the light of hope and renewal.

A little known midrash connects that small cruze of oil to the renewal of mankind, creation, and the earth itself, after the Mavul (Flood). When the dove brought back an olive branch in its mouth, according to the midrash, Noah pressed enough olive oil to place inside a small container. This cruze of oil was passed down to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

When Jacob returned to Beth El, he anointed the foundation stone with this oil. Then, according to the midrash, he hid the small cruze of precious olive oil. This Place (HaMakom) was none other than Mt. Moriah, where the Temple was eventually established. Because of the miracle of light that lasted for eight days from this precious oil, we celebrate Chanukah today.

Even so, the midrash is not always meant to be taken literally; a symbolic viewpoint may be rendered from this particular midrash. In light of the talmudic saying that the cure precedes the ailment, G-d, having foreseen the defilement of the Temple by the Seulicid empire, provided the means for its sanctification, shortly after the Flood, when the earth was renewed. The olive leaf signifies light, renewal, and hope.

The oil, “potential light” was passed down, safeguarded across the generations for its eventual use in re-lighting the menorah in the Temple, signifying the triumph of light over darkness. “Just as the dove brought light to the world, so too, you will bring olive oil and light it before Me” (Midrash Tanchuma, Tetzaveh 5). This message of hope will be like a small flame illuminating the darkness, despite whatever circumstances may cast a shadow over our lives. Yehi ratzon. May it be His will that the light of hope and renewal throughout the ages will always prevail over darkness. Amein.

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