If the most important aspect of the Chanukah neis is the oil lasting for eight days and not the winning of the war, then why don’t we mention the neis of the neiros in al ha’nisim?
I’ll tell you a little anecdote that was said over by the Alter of Slabodka. It says in the Torah, “זכור את היום הזה אשר יצאתם ממתצרים” – Remember this day when you went out of Mitzraim, “כי בחודש האביב” – Because it was a Spring day when you left Mitzraim. Hakodosh Boruch Hu told the Jewish people to remember that they were taken out Mitzraim during the month of Spring. The Alter said that we see that Hakodosh Boruch Hu wants to remind us that it was nice weather when we went out of Mitzraim. Now, here you have a people who were enslaved for so many years, בחומר ובלבנים and with עבודת פרך – backbreaking work. For two hundred and ten years they couldn’t leave Mitzraim and finally the time comes to go out – and let’s say it was a blizzard. So what?! They would walk out of Mitzraim singing in the blizzard! So you’re going to stop and take note of the fact that it was a beautiful Spring day as well?!
So the Alter said, yes. Even in a mountain of kindliness that someone is giving you, you shouldn’t overlook even one grain of kindliness. And the fact that the Geulah took place in the beautiful Spring – they were walking out and singing and then they sang אז ישיר – and it was beautiful all around. Nature was blooming. It was Nissan. And that helped too. Yes, that was part of the enjoyment.
And therefore, although the נס of Chanukah was nothing but the שמן, the oil that lasted for eight days, but it was still a lot of fun beating the goyim. It was a lot of fun when a handful of men under Yehuda Ha’macabi rushed forward with swords and hacked down an army that was far more superior to them. And they left a field that was full of dead bodies. It was a lot of fun! It was an enjoyment. And therefore we don’t neglect that. We speak about it and we thank Hakodosh Boruch Hu for that as well.
But because we want to be sure to emphasize the real נס, we don’t mix the נס of the oil into it. We only hint at it – “והדליקו נרות בחצרות קדשיך.” They kindled נרות too. But we don’t want to speak about it at length because then it would lose its character as being most important. We defeated the enemy and we also had a נס of the Menorah?! No, no. That would be belittling it. So the נס of the Chanukah is played out by itself. Every night it’s a ceremony that stand out on its own and nothing but the oil is commemorated at that ceremony. Only that in Shemonah Esrei we can afford to mention the other things too. But we don’t mix them because then you’d be making a mistake about what Chanukah is really about.
TAPE # 148 (December 1976)