Why is Al Hanisim mostly about the victory over the Yevanim and not about the nes of the shemen?
You have to realize that even though the nes of the shemen was most important because it was a spiritual salvation – it was an especial manifestation of the Presence of Hashem for the Am Yisroel, but the people at the time when they were rescued, when they expressed להודות ולהלל לשמך הגדול what were they thanking for? Were they thanking for their spiritual salvation? No; they were primarily thanking Hashem for their physical salvation. That’s human nature.
And therefore we have two levels. The truth is like the Gemara says, מאי חנוכה – “What is Chanukah?” and Rashi there says, על איזה נס קבעוה – “For which nes did they make Chanukah?” And the Gemara answers that it’s for the miracle of the oil. The nes of the shemen is the most important feature of Chanukah, that’s the truth. But still we should never lose sight of the fact of the physical purkan, the redemption from our enemies. If you lose sight of the smaller chessed because of the greater chessed, you’re making a great error. People should always remember that the chessed of gashmiyus is also very important chessed.
However, there’s another factor even more important and that factor is as follows. What is the menorah of Hakodosh Boruch Hu? The menorah of Hakodosh Boruch Hu is the Jewish people. נר השם נשמת אדם. We are the light for the nations. We are His lamp. We are the ones that will never be extinguished. The nes that never does the flame go out means us. The Jewish people is eternal. Forever and ever the fire of the Torah ideals will burn in our hearts. That’s what we’re speaking about tonight and that’s what we’ll always speak about, forever and ever. That’s the real menorah of Chanukah. And therefore when Hakodosh Boruch Hu rescued our people by means of all those battles against the mighty armies, this real menorah didn’t go out. However, in order to appreciate this menorah it was necessary for the nes to happen with the menorah inside the Beis Hamikdash. But it’s all one nes. We are the menorah that doesn’t go out. We’ll never go out. And so even though the menorah in the Beis Hamikdash finally did go out but it burned miraculously for eight days to show us that Hakodosh Boruch Hu’s Shechinah rests on us and it will rest on us forever.
And therefore when we speak on Chanukah about the miracles of the victories over our enemy, we should feel exactly like we’re talking about the candles, the lamps that never went out. They’re one and the same thing. Only that one explains the other.
TAPE # 485 (December 1983)