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Olive Oil

Wednesday, 7 December, 2011 - 12:00 pm

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 We are coming up to the holiday of Chanukah (Locally we are celebrating it with 2 events – Click Here for more info) during which we celebrate the miracle of the battle and the oil - we are going to focus on the oil for a moment but first let me share with you The story of Chanukah in a nutshell.

More than 21 centuries ago, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who sought to forcefully Hellenize the people of Israel. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of G-d.

When they sought to light the Temple's menorah (the seven branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks; miraculously, the one-day supply burned for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Chanukah. At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah (candelabrum) lighting: a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so on till the eighth night of Chanukah, when all eight lights are kindled.

The Menorah was lit with olive oil. Why?

The Midrash tells us that the Jewish people are similar to olive oil in a few ways

  1. Olive oil only comes after the olive is pressed (see it live Dec. 18th)
  2. Olive oil doesn’t blend (like most liquids)
  3. Olive oil always rises to the top.

The same is true of the Jewish people

  1. The Jewish people have only reached their potential to be "a light unto the nations" after they were (op)pressed in galus - exile.
  2. The Jewish people have never successfully “blended in” with the rest of the world.
  3. The Jewish people always rise up.

Let us be proud that we are unique and share our message with the world.

Have a great Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman

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