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Chanukah: Purifying The Oil I

“Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s oil; a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.” (Ecclesiastes 10:1) Just as a small fly may ruin a container of fine oil, so too, a little folly can ruin great wisdom and honor. This is similar to one sin being able to ruin great accomplishment. This verse describes how people react when they see someone wise and honored acting with foolishness or making a mistake; they focus on the foolishness and forget the wisdom and honor. (Peirush Ba’alei Tosafot, Kohelet)

I understand the miracle of the oil to reflect the miracle of the Chashmonaim’s efforts: They took a small amount – their very limited military resources – and believed that they would succeed far beyond their limitations.

One of the most powerful moments of the Chanukah story was when they found the single cruise of pure oil. How did this reflect the Chashmonaim’s actions?

They were not perfect people. They could have, as described by he Ba’alei Tosafot above, focused on their foolishness and lackings, allowing all hope and confidence to dissipate. But, they did not. They refused to allow one fly to ruin their inner pure oil.

Too many of us cannot access the miraculous spirit of Chanukah because we focus on the fly in the oil, our foolishness, our mistakes and limitations. We can begin to properly prepare for Chanukah by emulating the Chashmonaim and viewing our efforts as pure oil, unsullied by our mistakes.

Use the time between now and Chanukah to celebrate your growth and accomplishments, as finding a cruise of pure oil, without finding the fly in the ointment.

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