They Searched and Found One Flask of Oil Laying Undisturbed with the Seal of the High Priest: Blessings from Above Manifest Only at a Site of Substance, not Emptiness

by tillerofthesoil

tumblr_inline_nxrdmyLDHu1sfjjkp_1280.jpgAnd you shall make a lamp stand of pure gold…. Take you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to kindle a lamp perpetually (Exodus 25:31, 27:20).

“What is Ḥanukkah? The Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fifth of Kislev the eight days of Ḥanukkah begin on which a lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple they defiled all the oils that were in the Temple, yet when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they searched and found one flask of oil laying undisturbed with the seal of the High Priest. However, there was enough for only one day’s lighting. A miracle occurred and they lit from it eight days. The following year these [days] were appointed a Festival with Hallel and thanksgiving” (BT Shabbat 21b).

“Come and see how the character of the blessed Holy One differs from that of flesh and blood. In the case of flesh and blood, an empty vessel holds [more], but not a full one. However, the blessed Holy One is not so: a full vessel holds [more], but not an empty one” (BT Berakhot 40a).

And a certain woman from the wives of the acolyte prophets had cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant, my husband, died. And you know that your servant was a YHWH fearer. And the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” And Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your servant has nothing at all in the house except a flask of oil.” And he said, “Go, borrow vessels for yourself from outside, from all your neighbors—empty vessels, and not just a few. And you shall come and close the door behind you and behind your sons, and you shall pour into these vessels, and the full ones you shall set aside.” And she went from him and closed the door behind her and behind her sons. They were bringing the vessels to her and she was pouring. And it happened when the vessels were full that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel,” and he said to her, “There are no more vessels.” And the oil stopped. And she came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons will live off what is left (2 Kings 4:1–7).

Tell me, what do you have in the house? (2 Kings 4:2)… for supernal blessings settle only upon a place that is complete [i.e., full and not empty]. This is the mystery of In the heart of all who are wise-hearted I have set wisdom (Exodus 31:6), and similarly, He gives wisdom to the wise (Daniel 2:21) [cf. BT Berakhot 55a in the name of Rabbi Yoḥanan. On blessing not appearing in an empty place, see BT Sanhedrin 92a, in the name of Rabbi El’azar; Naḥmaindes on Exodus 25:24; Zohar 1:88a–b, 240a, 250a; 2:63b, 67a, 87b–88a, 154b–155a, 157b; 3:34a]” (Zohar 2:157b).

“Every wise person has his eyes and his words on his head, focused on Who is resting right there. With his eyes there he knows that the light kindled on his head needs oil. For the human body is a wick, and a light is kindled above. King Solomon cried out: Let… your head not lack oil (Ecclesiastes 9:8)—the light on one’s head needs oil, the oil of good deeds!” (Zohar 3:187a).

“Why is Israel compared to an olive? To teach that just as the olive does not produce its oil until it is crushed, so too Israel does not return except through suffering” (BT Menakhot 53b).