the real miracle
While the victory of the Maccabees' battle against the armies of Antiochus was miraculous, this is not the true miracle that is celebrated during Chanukah. The real miracle is the found cruise of shemen taharah - ritually pure oil - that lasted not one but eight days. The halachah is very specific regarding the oil that is to be used in the menorah. It cannot be just any olive oil; rather, it must be olive oil that has been purified and sealed by the High Priest. The fact that it burned for eight days was not just a miracle but also a blessing - for it would have taken eight days to press new oil and have it ready, leaving the menorah unlit.
why to stay lit
In many ways, we are wrestling with the world, with ourselves, and our responsibilities. Sometimes, it feels as if it is a battle we are winning, and sometimes not. But if we draw upon the miracle of this season, it can be empowering.
Where is that cruise of oil stashed in our life that will keep burning longer than we expect? What is our "fuel" that is going to give us the strength to endure, to shine, and be a witness of the Eternal? The olive oil did not burn for eight days because of anything that the Children of Israel did - it burned not by might, not by power, but by Hashem's spirit alone.
So if we are like menorot, why must we stay lit? And what are the consequences if we don't? The Parable of the Ten Virgins helps illuminate the "why":
Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the prudent answered, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.' But he answered, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.'
While this passage has eschatological themes running through it, it is also a contemporary admonition for us in our daily walk. If we aren't prepared by having enough oil, or spirit, there is no possible way that we can meet the joys or the oys that come our way. If we fail to plan, then we are planning to fail - we will be dashing madly around trying to keep ourselves lit and instead find that we are burning out.
where to find your oil
As we remember that Yeshua is for us our Kohen HaGadol, we know from where we can find the fuel to inspire us and help keep our lamps lit. His example and words bring us closer to the spirit of Hashem and ignite our souls. Choose your oil well this season - go to the source, get the cruise with the real seal, and shine on.