This year, we have to remember the original meaning of Hanukkah. What many of us associate with the holiday — a little bit of oil miraculously going a long way — seems profoundly underwhelming for a God who creates the world and redeems nations from slavery. Some will say it is precisely this fact, that the smallest kindness can be miraculous, which we must celebrate. In the grim winter of a pandemic, in a society divided and paralyzed, the smallest kindness is all we’ve got.

But Hanukkah always had greater ambitions. A group of zealous priests saw their society and its public institutions desecrated. They fought back and retook power. And, in so doing, they tried to reestablish sanctity.

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