Friday, December 14, 2012

The Spirit Is in the Oil

The rabbis in the Talmud tell us that the Maccabees were unable to obtain a solid gold menorah for the Temple after the desecration. They lacked the means to acquire such an expensive menorah, so, instead, they constructed a simple one out of iron rods plated with tin.

Why was there a miracle for the oil but none for the menorah itself?

If the Maccabees were able to find the cruse of oil, why didn’t they also find the gold menorah inside the Temple’s spaciousness?

The menorah corresponds to the material state of the Jewish people. It is a vessel for holding the oil. The olive oil, on the other hand, is a metaphor for the nation's inner spirit.

It is preferable that the external vessel be aesthetically beautiful, but there are times when the physical reality is harsh and displeasing. During such times, we make do with what we have, even if it means lighting with a menorah improvised out of iron rods.

The spirit is the oil that nourishes a rich inner flame.

The miracle occurred, not with the menorah, but with the oil.

We may suffer physical hardships and even deprivations, but our spiritual life should always pursue the clear pure path of our everyday inner light.

Chag urim sameach (Enjoy the lights and be joyous!),

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