Why the candle?
On Channuka, we light the candles for eight nights to publicize the miracle that one day of pure oil lasted eight days. I don’t get it! There was a huge military victory worthy of parades, fireworks, and the like. Why did the sages of Israel decide to place nearly all our focus of Jewish practice on lighting a candle. In fact, the sages thought it was so important to publicize this miracle that Jewish law necessitates that a person must sell his clothing to acquire enough oil for one candle. We see this level of importance also by publicizing the miracle of leaving Egypt with our four cups of wine on Passover. So, why all this focus on the candle?
The Maccabees were Kohanim (Temple Officials) who served in the Temple in Jerusalem thousands of years ago. They were also the one’s who lead the charge against the invading Greeks who threatened freedom of religious practice in the land of Israel through committing horrendous acts and specifically outlawing the practice of Torah and mitzvot. These Kohanim who lead the charge on the battle field were the most likely to attribute the victory to their own might, brilliance and strategies. That is why it was the Temple Officials were the one who discovered the oil. The miracle of the oil was a door to door delivery for those who might need it most as a reminder that the G-d above time and space, the G-d of Israel, is calling the shots and is the one who once again enabled our victory enabling us to practice our religion freely. The name Chanu means “they rested” and the letters Chaf Hey means “25.” Accordingly, Channu-ka is a celebration that they rested from war and religious oppression on the 25th of Kislev. May we all experience a peaceful Channukah and truly appreciate the ability to light our candles free from oppression.
(Based on Sifsei Chaim)