A Happy Hanukkah… Or Was It, You Putz?!
Wednesday December 21st 2011, 8:54 am
Filed under: Who Knows?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is almost upon us, and we Jews always feel a little bit left out of all the commercialized merriment. So we super size an event of our own, though it’s no birth of our Lord–in fact, it’s not even in the Torah–but it’s a nice, light holiday based on a 25-year-long bloody war between the Syrian/Greek Seleucid Empire, which ruled Judea and outlawed Judaism, and a Jewish guerrilla army, fighting for the right to practice their religion and–aw, to hell with it, let’s just light candles and open presents.

Happy Hanukkah! Well, at least we say that now. But I’ll bet that after the initial satisfaction of retaking the Second Temple in Jerusalem from the Seleucid Greeks wore off, the Maccabees were probably less than happy with the situation. Why? It’s a familiar story in the Middle East: oil.

Of course, we all know that even though the Maccabees only had one day’s worth of oil to keep the Temple’s ner tamid (eternal flame) lit, there was a miracle, and that oil lasted eight days, which was all well and good. But on that first night, they didn’t know that was going to happen. There was no way to know or predict that. All they knew was that they only had one day’s worth of oil. So they probably logically assumed that on the next day, the oil would run out and the flame would burn out. But the thing that must have really bothered them most about that situation? All of them? They’d been fighting the Greeks for three years with the goal of retaking the Temple… where they intended to relight the eternal flame… and yet, no one thought to bring more than one day’s worth of pure olive oil? Really? Judah? Jonathan? Simeon? Eleazar? Yochanan*? Anyone? Bueller?

Wow, for such an amazing military force, so small, yet able to take on the army of an empire, they didn’t really have all the planning down that one might expect. New supplies wouldn’t be available for eight days and, certainly, no one was expecting any kind of miracle to occur. Now, I’m no Rabbi or theologian or Talmudic scholar or clergyman or historian or professor or anthropologist. But I am qualified, I believe, to speculate that, instead of celebrating, the Maccabees probably spent their first night of what would become Hanukkah shvitzing and plotzing over who was going to deal with this business of obtaining more oil and who was ultimately responsible for not having brought enough oil along in the first place.


*Dude, Yochanan, it was really hard to find non-Latinized version of your name on the Internet. Turns out Christians use the name “John” in place of your name. I never heard it before, and frankly it sounds kind of strange. I’m sure it will never catch on. Just stick with Yochanan.

2 Comments so far
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Why Olive oil. Can you use it like petrol? Why don’t they just grow the things instead of fighting over the black stuff. Nu? There you go, world peace brought about by a blog.

Comment by Aaron 12.21.11 @ 9:56 am

You may not have been serious, Aaron, or maybe you were, but here’s a serious reply, at any rate!

I can’t say that I specifically remember hearing about anyone using olive oil as fuel, but then again, I can’t remember a lot of stuff these days, and it hardly seems far fetched. I’m no expert on the subject, but I do know there are some folks who convert their cars to run on vegetable oil, after it’s used by restaurants to cook food. Restaurants normally just throw the oil away, so it can prove to be a much cheaper alternative to the ever rising prices of petrol/gas.

That said, it requires personally converting your engine so it’s able to work with veggie oil, or paying some to garage do it for you. And I don’t think there are many that do it. Either way, it can permanently break your car, so that’s risky. And you can forget your warranty, obviously. I don’t know what kind of mileage they get, but I don’t think it’s all that bad.

The big kicker–in the US, at least–is that it’s illegal in many states. They say it’s because the emissions can’t be regulated–but I say that is bullocks. I think oil companies have more than enough power and influence to squash (pun intended) start up fuels like veggie oil, and to decide what kind of fuel gets used in cars around the world. It is amazing to me that auto manufacturers ever got hybrids (of any and all kinds) by Big Oil. They’ll keep mining for oil long after cars stop using the stuff, and we’ll still use it in a million other ways. I hate those guys.

So, in conclusion, what was the question again?

Happy Hanukkah!


Comment by Reid 12.22.11 @ 6:44 am

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