Why do we light the candles for 8 days?
The headlines would read, “Hebrews win freedom and light a candle.” Or perhaps, “Largest most sophisticated army in the world is defeated by a band of brothers in battle for religious freedom.” Wouldn’t a recently liberated country be partying in the streets, lighting off fireworks, making parades? Wouldn’t the government would declare the victory a national holiday for future years? What went down? The Greeks outlawed religious practice declaring it punishable by death. The Jews, lead by a family of Temple officials (the Chashmonaim/Maccabees), won their right to freely worship Gd without imposition and restriction from oppression.
But no fireworks, parades, partying….only rebuilding and purifying the Temple which the ancient Greeks defiled. And so, as the story goes, there was only one pure jug of oil for the ritual lighting of the menorah, but it miraculously lasted 8 days which was the amount of time it took to obtain more pure oil. Immediately after the victory, the Temple officials went back to worshiping Gd. The day was not named Victory day but was named “They Rested on the 25th” aka Chanu Kah.
What would you expect the sages to focus our ritual practice? The military victory or the miracle of lighting with oil? What’s with lighting candles? Why the oil?