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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Dec. 13, 2004 / 1 Teves, 5765

Follow the Oil

By Marisa N. Pickar


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The events that prompted the holiday of Chanukah are familiar. The Greeks entered the sanctuary of the Temple and made all of the oil ritually impure and therefore unfit for use in the service of the Divine there. When the Hashmonean dynasty gained the upper hand and defeated the Greeks, they searched and found only one flask of oil on which the seal of the High Priest remained, which indicated it was not defiled. The one flask contained just enough oil to light the Menorah in the Temple for one day. A miracle occurred and the oil kept the Menorah lit for eight days.


Although these events occurred some 2,000 years ago, they still resonate today with timely truths and relevant messages — if we just follow the oil.


In the Torah portion Vayishlach, Jacob leaves his father-in-law's home with his entire family and all their possessions and animals. He has them cross the Yavok River, a tributary of the Jordan, and prepares them to do battle with his brother Esau. However, as night falls, Jacob remains alone on the side of the river from which he came. What caused him to remain behind? The Talmud answers: small jars.


The Midrash then relates Jacob's reward for remaining behind to retrieve these small jars:


G-d said to Jacob, "For endangering yourself for a small container, I Myself will repay your children with a small container to the Chashmonaim [at the time of Chanukah]." (Midrash Tzeidah LaDerech)


Could the flask of oil found by the Hashmonean be the same small jar retrieved by Jacob some 1,300 years earlier? And why would a small jar of oil prompt Jacob to remain behind? The Midrash explains that Jacob found this particular container 34 years before when he stopped for the night and had that famous dream about the angels climbing up and down a ladder. Jacob's pillow that night was 12 stones. The next morning, Jacob used the stones to build an altar, one of the stone's contained a small flask of oil.


Jacob used this oil to pour on the top stone of the monument. The oil refilled itself and Jacob knew it was set aside for G-d. These events occurred at the beginning of an exile that would last 36 years, the number of candles we light over the eight days of Chanukah.


This miraculous jar of oil lasted throughout the generations. It was used to anoint the tabernacle in the time of Moses and was used to anoint several of Israel's kings during the time of the prophets.


So why oil? We all know why it is so important in these modern times. But what does oil symbolize?

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In Hebrew, the word for oil is Ha-shemen and is composed of the same letters as "neshama" (nun, shin, mem, heh), which means soul. Like the soul, oil is something that exists below the surface and seems non-existent until some sort of process is preformed to reveal it.


Just like the olive must be squeezed to produce oil, so too must the body be squeezed before a person's essence — the soul — can be revealed. All the clutter of everyday living, the messiness of our physical existences, must be shunted aside to let our true selves shine through.


This is the life that Jacob led. He fought battle after battle to live a life of Godliness, a life dedicated to truth and justice. Because of the way he lived his life, Jacob's soul shone through the physical barrier of his body. And because the Hashmonean put spiritual survival before physical safety, they too were rewarded with the miracle of the oil, the miracle of the weak over the strong and the few over the many.


Chanukah is a holiday that teaches us little in life is what it appears to be on the surface. By lighting the candles during Chanukah we commit ourselves to peeking below the surface of people and ideas to find their inner essence, to determine their validity or falsehood.


In this age of information overload, never before has the message of Chanukah resonated so clearly. Anyone can see an olive, but it's the oil inside that counts. .

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspirational articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Marisa N. Pickar is a Laguna Woods, Ca.-based journalist and lecturer. Comment by clicking here.






© 2004, Marisa N. Pickar