Today is Chanukah. The holiday we know today first took place around 200 B.C.E. in Judea or what is known today as Israel.
Antiochus III, Greek king of Syria, took over Judea and was fair to the Jews, allowing them to follow their traditions and their beliefs. But when his son, Antiochus IV, took over, the rules of his father ceased. Antiochus IV made the Jews pray to the Greek gods, and he had his army desecrate the Temple, the center of Jewish life in Judea. The Jews, led by Mattathias and his five sons, started a rebellion that turned into a war. Although the Jews were outnumbered, they won by knowing the land and using guerrilla tactics.
After the defeat of the Greeks, the Jews rededicated the Temple. The menorah was a fixture in the Temple that kept track of the days, like a calendar. The menorah ran on oil, and the oil was stored by days. However, while at war, the Jews did not have enough time to collect oil. So despite having only enough for one day, they lit the menorah, and it burned for eight days! It was a miracle.
Chanukah is about miracles. I believe miracles happen all the time.
What is a miracle? According to Webster’s dictionary, a miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.”
Or “an event considered as a work of God.”
I think from these definitions that a miracle is a supernatural event created by God. On Chanukah, as well as Purim and Yom Ha’atzmaut, we read the “Al Hanisim” prayer during the Amidah and the grace after meals. This prayer is read on these holidays because it is thanking God for helping us triumph during difficult times. The paragraph read on Chanukah is about God giving strength and power to the Maccabees to defeat the powerful Greeks.
There is a difference between the miracle of the oil and the miracle of the war. They are both miracles, but one is not obvious because it has to do with people and war tactics, but we still thank God for helping. The other was supernatural with obvious help from the Almighty. One miracle is not more important than the other; they are both just in different areas. We thank God for both.
Miracles happen all the time. They have happened in the past, and they happen today. In Indiana, a young boy fell into a sinkhole of sand, was buried there for eight hours and survived. That’s a miracle. It is a miracle that so many babies are born without physical problems.
Miracles are important to me because they can’t be explained. They are wonders of the world. Miracles always leave me thinking, “Why did this occur now and here?” There is no answer. That is the glory. We appreciate the Almighty for what Hashem has done, and we thank God.
Eli Wilcox is a student at Krieger Schechter Day School.