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    Eight days instead of seven

    Every year for over two millennia people have asked why Chanukah has eight days and not seven.

    If we say that the Chanukah miracle took place on the first day, what followed – the oil burning for the next week (Talmud Shabbat 21b) – was a seven-day manifestation of God’s grace. So why don’t we merely have a seven day festival?

    There are countless answers. One author wrote a book called Ner LaMe’ah, giving 100 (me’ah) answers.

    These are some of the suggestions:
    * The miracle was more than a seven-day wonder; the finding of a little jar of pure oil for the first day was already a miracle. (Why did it take so long to procure a fresh supply? The oil was prepared several days’ journey from Jerusalem, and it required four days to get there and four days to come back.)

    * One of the oppressive decrees of the Greeks was the ban on circumcision (milah) which normally takes place on the eighth day.

    * The enemy polluted the altar and the menorah, which had to be purified before use. The rededication was an essential part of the overall miracle. Rav Soloveitchik points out that the Torah readings on Chanukah deal with the rededication.

    * Some scholars point to the similarities between Sukkot and Chanukah and say that the Jews kept Chanukah as an 8-day festival that compensated for their inability to observe Sukkot properly that year.

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