Around the year 167 B.C.E., the Syrian-Greek rulers of Judea tried to
force the Jews to assimilate into Hellenic culture. They summoned the
Jews to the town squares where they were forced to worship idols or to
sacrifice a pig before the idol.

When the Syrian-Greek soldiers demanded that the Jews of Modi’in
sacrifice a swine to one of their gods, Mattitiyahu, a priest from the
Hasmonean family, refused to allow this desecration to take place and
slew the Jewish heretic who had volunteered to make the offering.
Mattitiyahu, together with his sons, also attacked the Syrian-Greek
soldiers. They won that battle, but they were forced to take refuge in
the hills. Mattitiyahu’s sons became known as the Maccabees.

Under the leadership of Judah the Maccabee, the Jews launched a guerilla
war for freedom. In 165 B.C.E., the Maccabees finally succeeded in
routing the vastly superior Syrian-Greek forces and retook the Temple,
but by then the Syrian-Greeks had thoroughly desecrated the holy site.
The Jews immediately set to work removing the alien idols, scrubbing the
altar and performing the many tasks necessary to rededicate the Temple.

Unfortunately, there was no undefiled oil left with which to light the
golden Menorah. The Jews searched for sealed jars of pure oil, and
finally found only a single flask with its seal intact. They rejoiced
and hurried to light the Menorah and rededicate the Temple.

But the one flask of oil was sufficient for only one day. It would take
at least another week for fresh pure olive oil to be prepared and delivered. Not wanting to postpone performing the mitzvah, they decided
to light the Menorah with what they had–and the miracle of Chanukah
occurred. Despite the small quantity of oil, the Menorah remained lit
for the entire eight days, indicating to the world that God’s presence
had returned to the Temple.

This treat is reposted annually in honor of Chanukah.

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