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Why Is Chanukah Eight Days Long?

Why Is Chanukah Eight Days Long?

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This question is as old as the holiday itself . . . If the pure oil which was found was enough for one day, then seemingly no miracle occurred on the first day of Chanukah. Why, then, isn’t Chanukah celebrated for seven days—starting with the 26th of Kislev, when the miracle began?

Many answers are given for this glaring difficulty. In fact, since Rabbi Yosef Caro (16th-century author of the Code of Jewish Law) posed this question (and suggested three answers of his own), over 100 other answers have been proposed!

The following are a few of them:1

  1. Considering that it would take another eight days to procure pure oil, the Jews divided the jug of oil—which contained enough oil for only one night—into eight equal amounts. They figured that they would light one-eighth of the oil each of the next eight nights. Miraculously, on each of the eight nights of Chanukah, the oil which should have lasted only one-eighth of the night lasted for the entire night.
  2. After they filled the menorah with oil on the first night, the jug remained full. The same happened on the ensuing seven days.
  3. After the first night, when they entered the sanctuary the next morning to clean the menorah, they found that the cups of the menorah were still full of oil, despite having burned the entire night.
  4. We celebrate the first day to commemorate the miraculous victory over the Greeks.

For an in-depth (and entertaining) exposition of these solutions, see The Menorah Files.

FOOTNOTES
1.

Beit Yosef on Tur, Orach Chaim 670. See also Likkutei Sichot, vol. 15, p. 183.

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Discussion (3)
November 28, 2013
Re: Chanukah and Sukkot
The story of the jug of oil is found in the Talmud, which is indeed the source for what is Jewish. The rabbis of the Talmud also considered the books of Maccabees to not be authoritative. It is no clearer that the reason given there is true than the reason given in the Talmud. The writer was not a contemporary of the events he describes. At any rate, correlating Chanukah with Sukkot would explain why the Jews then celebrated an eight day holiday. The author of Maccabees also does not mention kindling the Menorah to celebrate. The Talmud is explaining why we celebrate it for eight days instead of just one day, the 25th, as well as why we do so by kindling Menorahs. During this holiday we do indeed give thanks for the miraculous victories, as well as kindle the menorah to commemorate the miracle of the oil.
See also "Is Chanukah Mentioned in the Torah".
Rabbi Shmary Brownstein
Chabad.org
December 9, 2012
chanukah
Chanukah lasts 8 days to remind us that G-dliness transcends worldly philosophy. Moses saw a bush that burned but wasn't consumed, and Israel saw a lamp that burned, but the oil wasn't consumed. Isaiah 43:2 says, "When you walk through the fire, you won't be burned." So being G-dly isn't popular in our culture, but it certainly transcends it.
Ron Faulk
Leesburg, Fl.
December 20, 2011
I'm confused
What exactly happened? Did they pour oil in the 1st night and it lasted for all 8 nights? Or every night they found more oil in the jug?
Anonymous
montreal, qc/ canada
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