Parshas Mikeitz/Chanukah - The Power of the Many Defeated by the Merits of the Few
The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my father, Reuven Pinchas ben Chaim Yaakov, a"h.
The Weekly Shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmas my Oma, Chaya Sara bas Zecharia Chaim, a"h.
Everyone is surely familiar with the miracle of the oil, which we commemorate on Chanukah. The Chashmonaim found only enough oil for one day (not even enough for one day according to She'iltos d'Rav Achai) but the oil lasted for eight days.
This was not, however, the first miracle with oil in Jewish history. For the haftarah of parshas Vayeira, we read about another miracle with oil. In Melachim II (perek 4) a poor woman (the widow of Ovadiah HaNavi, according to Midrash Tanchuma) comes to Elisha HaNavi in dire need. She is deeply in debt and the creditor is threatening to take her kids as slaves for payment. Her only source of income was selling oil. Elisha tells her to borrow some jugs, close her door and pour the oil into those jugs. Miraculously, the oil multiplied to fill all of the jugs and she was able to sell the oil and pay off her debts.
The question that occurred to me as we read this haftarah was, why is it that the miracle of Chanukah occurred in the specific manner in which it did? Why did the oil last extra-long instead of multiply like it did in Elisha's case? As you traverse the many answers to the famous question of the Beis Yosef, indeed a number of analyses of the miracle might understand that the oil did in fact increase very slowly. But I have a suggestion of my own.
The initial miracle of Chanukah, the unlikely military victory over the Syrian Greeks, was particularly noteworthy because we were so vastly outnumbered. In Al HaNisim, we make specific mention of "rabim beyad me'atim," HaShem brought the many to defeat at the hands of the few. The theme of this miracle is quality over quantity. As Yonasan declared when he and his armourman single-handedly took on a band of Pelishtim (Shmuel I 14:6), HaShem does not discern between many and few when granting salvation to His noble servants. The quality of character and the nobility of purpose were all the Chashmonaim needed to defeat the Greeks. Therefore, rather than increase the quantity of the oil that was found, it was that miniscule measure of oil which lasted the necessary eight days. The miracle of the oil was specifically orchestrated in a similar manner to the miracle of the war.
Have a Chanukah samei'ach, good Shabbos and chodesh tov.