Eight Reasons for Eight Days


Dear Rabbi,
The Chanukah miracle: A flask with one night’s oil burned for eight nights. But since there was oil for one night, the miracle actually lasted only seven nights! So why is Chanukah eight nights and not seven?
Thank you and Happy Chanukah



  1. Good question! Although I have seen at least 100 ways to answer this question, I will try to choose for you my favorite eight reasons.

    1. They divided the one night’s oil into eight portions. Miraculously, each portion lasted an entire night.
    2. The Greeks ransacked the Temple many days in search of oil to defile. Despite their strength and numbers, they overlooked the one flask that was eventually found. A few tired and battle-weary Jews found it immediately.
    3. Seven days commemorate the miracle of the oil, and one day commemorates the miracle that a few weak Jewish soldiers defeated the mighty Greek legions.
    4. Wanting the oil to last, they made the wicks of the Temple’s Menorah only one-eighth of the normal thickness. Nevertheless, the flames burned just as brightly as if the wicks had been the normal thickness.
    5. The Menorah of gold in the Temple was ritually impure. So were all the Jewish soldiers, having come in contact with death on the battlefield. Therefore, they were forced to make a temporary earthenware Menorah, because earthenware is more resistant to impurity. But earthenware is porous, and when it’s new it absorbs a small but significant part of any oil put in it. Therefore, one night’s oil for a gold Menorah should not have been sufficient for one night in the earthenware Menorah, because some of the oil was lost to absorption.
    6. In one account, the text reads “and there wasn’t enough (oil) in it to burn EVEN one day…”
    7. Chanukah occurred in the year 3622 (139 BCE). Calendar calculations and other historical sources indicate that the 25th of Kislev, the first day of Chanukah, fell on Shabbat that year. Therefore, they needed to light the Menorah before sunset on Friday night, and consequently needed a little more than one night’s amount of oil.
    8. The commandment to light the Menorah with pure oil is written in the Torah (Leviticus, chapters 23 and 24) immediately after the commandment to observe the Succot festival for 8 days (7 days of Succot followed by Shemini Atzeret). Our Sages saw this as a Divine hint that Chanukah should last 8 days.

    Happy Chanukah!

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team