Chanukah – why eight days?
The Chanukah story is universally known. All the oil in the Temple had been defiled. They found one small jug of pure oil still with the Kohen Gadol’s seal, but it was enough to only last for a single day. Miraculously, it lasted for eight days – enough time for them to produce new oil. To commemorate this miracle we light candles for eight days.
People ask, though, why we celebrate Chanukah for eight days. The oil that they found burned completely naturally on the first day; there were in fact only seven miraculous days.
Some say the first day commemorates the miracle of having found the jug. Others suggest that on each of the eight days, the oil only depleted one eighth of what it should have, so the miracle occurred equally on each of the eight days.
But perhaps this is meant to help us understand that the line between natural and miraculous isn’t as clear as we think. Natural occurrences are miraculous in and of themselves; we should feel blessed to be alive and have the fortune to live naturally.
Nowadays, so many of our needs are met so easily, thanks to modern technology. We take those for granted, even though past generations would have seen them just as miraculous as the miracle of the long-lasting oil. We should try to always see miracles in the mundane. “Who is rich? One who is happy with their lot.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)
Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Sameaḥ!