Once, Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchov was asked. Why was a holiday instituted for the victory of Chanukah over the Greek/Syrians in 150 BCE, and the miracle having overcome Haman on Purim 400 BCE, and no holiday was instituted for the miracle of the war against Sisra 1350 BCE mentioned in the book of the prophets, or the defeat of Sancheriv 700 BCE?
The Rabbi explained. There are miracles that happened, and at that time they were truly huge supernatural revelations of G-dliness. However, those revelations and influences did not extend to future generations. Then, there are miracles where the G-dly light and energy shined not only for the people then. This miraculous energy that took place at that time, once infused in the day, is renewed every year, and such is the miracles of Chanukah and Purim.
This is the deeper meaning of the blessing, “(G-d)… who did miracles for our forefathers in those days (which are repeated) in these days “. The miracle of Chanukah that happened then, repeats itself and shines also today, for those who connect through the practices of the Holiday, and receive the blessings in these days.
In the Talmud there is a dispute between the house of Shamai, and the house of Hillel, how to light the eight candles that commemorates the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days.
Shamai says, the first night of Chanukah we light eight flames and reduce the number the following nights, to seven, six etc. The house of Hillel says, we begin on the first night with one flame and increase our count every night.
This legal disagreement has its roots in a much deeper divergence of world view perspectives, between the two. In life, is it the concrete, tangible, and actual that has greatest significance and value or, do we attribute equal value to potential and what’s hidden inside?
Shamai says, as we begin the Holiday and have all eight days before us, on the first night, there is the potential to enjoy and draw blessings from all eight days, so we proclaim and express that, in lighting the eight candles. Hillel says, what matters is actuality. On the first night, we only have one day, we therefore can only light one candle.
Why and how can Shamai give any credence at all to the potential, when in actuality it’s not there.
If I have a seed, with the potential to grow into a fruit bearing tree, can I celebrate the harvest or eat any fruits before it has grown into anything?
Shamai and his followers were so elevated, they saw the world from G-ds perspective where the potential is always there and faces no obstacles in manifesting itself. It’s only from a natural physical standpoint that events have a time delay, and a risk factor, between potential and actuality. From Shamai's perspective, potential is actuality. His faith was so deep, potential and actuality is a present moment reality.
Hillel was more pragmatic, in this world, from a more worldly down to earth point of view. Torah was not given to angels, but to humans living to a degree with the confines of natural rules. The objective of Torah, is not how it is in the Heavens, but its actual influence on people, and in this world.
In the Hebrew letters of Chanukah our sages point out, they represent the acronym, “eight days and the law follows the house of Hillel”.
The miracle of Chanukah came about because of the actual down to earth self-sacrifice of the Maccabees. The response of the Jews in those days to the threat of Hellenization wasn’t Judaism in the heart or spirituality only in the Synagogue. The response was a practical rededication of the Temple down here in this world.
Action and more action today, is where the beef is.