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There is no greater test of faith than affliction. However, if we hold our faith that HaShem is with us and pray to Him, He will reveal Himself. Accordingly, the heartfelt prayers of our enslaved brethren in Egypt awakened the awesome miracles of the Exodus.

December 17th, 2009 · No Comments

Happy sixth day of Chanukah! In connection with the miracle of the oil which we celebrate on Chanukah, here are two other miracles that happened with oil.

* In the Book of Kings we find that the wife of one of the prophets came to Elisha and said, “My husband has died and you know that he was G-d fearing. Now the creditor has come to take my two children as slaves because I can’t repay the loan.”

“Tell me, what do you have in your house?” Elisha asked her.

“Nothing, except for a little jar of oil,” she answered.

“Go and borrow as many empty pots as you can from your neighbors. Then go back home, close the door and, with the help of your children, pour the oil from the little jar into the empty pots.”

She did exactly as the Prophet Elisha told her. The children handed her the empty pots and she kept on pouring.

When her son told her that there were no more pots to fill, the little jar of oil became empty. She went back and told Elisha about the miracle. Elisha told her to sell the oil, pay her debt and use the rest for her livelihood.

** In the Talmud we find the following story: One Friday afternoon, Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa saw that his daughter was very upset. “What is the matter?” he asked his daughter.

“It is soon time to light the Shabbat candles, but instead of oil, I mistakenly filled the candelabra with vinegar.”

“There is nothing to worry about,” said her father. “The one who commanded that oil should burn will command that vinegar will burn. Go light the Shabbat candles!”

His daughter lit the wicks which were soaked with vinegar. The Talmud tells us that a miracle occurred and the wicks burnt the entire Shabbat. At the completion of Shabbat, Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa used this fire for the Havdalah service.

In truth, everything in life is a miracle. Miracles happen to each of us every minute of every day, as we recite in the daily Modim prayer, in which we thank G-d for the everyday miracles.

There are two kinds of miracles; There are miracles that contradict and defy the laws of nature, as in the story of Chanukah and in the above two stories. Then there are the miracles which G-d performs within the laws of nature. Chanukah is a reminder that everything, starting with life itself, is a miracle and should not be taken for granted. Realizing this, we would be more thankful and much happier with whatever we have.

The Maccabees could have said, “There is not enough pure oil to rekindle the light; it is not worth trying.” What they did was to take what little they had and to have faith that God would support their efforts. A paradigm of Jewish history: sometimes we lacked physical freedom, but our spiritual and cultural freedom were unbounded.

Today, there is a new challenge. Almost every Jew in the world lives in conditions of physical freedom. We have to ensure that we do not allow our spiritual and cultural freedom to diminish because of complacency or indolence. However little we sometimes have to build on, we have to have faith that we will succeed.

Tags: Commentary & Opinion · JEWISH LOVE · Jewish World & History · Missionary attacks · Parasha & Religion

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