Eight Days of Chanukah

Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski


"They established these eight days of Chanukah to give thanks and praise to Your great Name " (Siddur).

Jewish history is replete with miracles that transcend the miracle of the Menorah. Why is the latter so prominently celebrated while the others are relegated to relative obscurity?

Perhaps the reason is that most other miracles were Divinely initiated; i.e. God intervened to suspend the laws of nature in order to save His people from calamity.

The miracle of the Menorah was something different. Having defeated the Seleucid Greek invaders, the triumphant Jews entered the Sanctuary. There they found that they could light the Menorah for only one day, due to a lack of undefiled oil. Further, they had no chance of replenishing the supply for eight days. They did light the Menorah anyway, reasoning that it was best to do what was within their ability to do and to postpone worrying about the next day until such worry was appropriate. This decision elicited a Divine response and the Menorah stayed lit for that day and for seven more.

This miracle was thus initiated by the Jews themselves, and the incident was set down as a teaching for all future generations: concentrate your efforts on what you can do, and do it! Leave the rest to God.

While even our best and most sincere efforts do not necessarily bring about miracles, the teaching is nevertheless valid. Even the likelihood of failure in the future should not discourage us from any constructive action that we can take now.

Today I shall...focus my attention on what it is that I can do now, and do it to the best of my ability.