Q. According to tradition, the oil that was found was enough for one day, so the miracle really lasted seven and not eight days. Why then do we keep Chanukah for eight days?
A. This is an old but important question which we have addressed in OzTorah a number of times. On this occasion, instead of repeating some of the traditional answers, let us quote the view of Rabbi Isaac Breuer (1883-1946), a great leader of German Jewish orthodoxy, who thought it was a Divine test of Jewish loyalty and determination.
Rabbi Breuer said that when the Maccabees found the one small jar of oil, they did not say, “Why should we bother kindling the menorah? It will take so long to get a fresh supply of pure oil that the menorah will have gone out again in the meantime.” The symbolism of this question was, “What hope is there that our Torah spirit will be victorious, since we are so few against the great mass of Jews and non-Jews who are taking Israel away from the Torah?”
However, by an act of faith they did kindle the menorah. They did not give up hope; they knew that God said, “Not by strength and not my might, but by My spirit” (Zech. 4:6). As a result, adds Rabbi Breuer, “the light that burnt in their breast lit up the whole Jewish people and saved them from extinction” (Nachaliel, 1951, page 282).