Why Is Chanukah Eight Days Long?

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Estimated Time: 45 minutes

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Why is Chanukah Eight Days Long?

We’re all familiar with the story of Chanukah: The Maccabim triumphed over the Greeks (a miracle in and of itself since they were a lesser army) and then the Maccabim were able to go on to Yerushalayim. When they got to the Beit HaMikdash, however, the Maccabim only found enough oil to last one day, but a miracle happened and the oil lasted for eight days.

So why did Chanukah only last eight days? What’s wrong with having a two-week long holiday?

There are a few reasons. First, it takes eight days to get new oil, so the people who were in charge of filling the menorah (the Kohanim) separated the container holding the oil into eight sections, so that there would be enough oil for the menorah to be lit at least part of a day, but there was a miracle that the little bit of oil lasted an entire day. Secondly, the oil in the container was emptied into the menorah on the first night (so that the menorah would be lit for a day), but a miracle happened and the container continued to be full after it was emptied. This continued for eight days. Thirdly, as mentioned before, the container was emptied on the first night, but, the following morning, none of the oil had burned but the flame was still lit. None of the oil had been used up! This happened every one of the days until new oil was manufactured. Finally, after the Maccabim defeated the Greeks, the Jews were allowed to perform the mitzvah of Brit Milah again (as Antiochus had decreed against it). Since the Brit Milah is done when a baby boy is eight days old, we honour the fact that we were again able to perform this mitzvah by making Chanukah eight days long.

This year at Chanukah, we’ll all know just a couple more reasons why Chanukah is eight days long. . Chag Chanukah Sameach!

By: Chaya Solomon,

Related Resources can be found under:

» All > History > The Tanach

» All > Treats

» All > Jewish Holidays > Chanuka

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