Comments on Purity and Channukah
Purity and Channukah
I'm trying to figure something out about Channukah:
When the victorious Jews cleaned the temple they found only enough oil to light the menorah for 1 day and it took another 7 days before they had more oil.
I learned as a boy (and with no sources) that it took that long to travel to where there were olive trees, come back, and process the oil. But I was reading on wikipedia (yeah...I know) and the following claim was made (without a source) --
As the Maccabees searched for pure oil to light the menorah with, they found just one cruse of pure oil which still had the seal of the High Priest, the symbol of pure oil. This cruse contained just enough pure oil to keep the menorah lit for one day. In order to make pure oil however, individuals making the oil must be in a state of spiritual purity. Being soldiers returning from the battlefield, the Maccabees were deemed impure, and therefore could not make pure oil. Since the process of ritual purification after touching a corpse lasts seven days, the Maccabees could only produce additional pure oil after eight days: seven days of becoming pure including one day, once pure, to actually make the oil. Therefore, the Maccabees would have been unable to light the Menorah for seven days before the completion of new pure oil. Miraculously, the one cruse of oil had lasted for all eight days, and by that point new pure oil was ready.
If the concern was that the people were tamei met, then:
- How were they allowed to go in and cleanse the temple and touch the various keilim
- How could they light the menorah initially -- if they were tamei met, wouldn't the oil be defiled by their touching it?
- If they only found a little oil, how could they possibly have found a red heifer, or any saved ashes (and wouldn't that be a greater miracle, if they found some)?