The miracle of Chanukah that we commemorate was that the oil burned for 8 days, until they were able to replenish it. Why did it take 8 days to make new oil for the menorah? The normal process for making oil doesn't take that long. Furthermore the talmud (peah) discusses olive trees who's produce is so full that oil literally leaks out. Couldn't they have accessed usable oil more quickly?

  • 1
    You could make this question more substantial by adding some additional context as well as some source information regarding how long the normal oil-making process takes.
    – Isaac Moses
    Dec 10, 2012 at 22:19

2 Answers 2


There are two explanations provided for the eight day delay in getting new ritually pure oil.

One opinion is that the oil was produced in a region that was a four day journey from Jerusalem. This is the explanation of the Ran on Shabbos 21b. The Meiri identifies the oil producing region as Tekoa.

The other opinion is that the delay was because they were all in a state of tumas meis - ritual impurity resulting from contact with a dead body, and it takes seven days to be purified from such tumah. Only after they were tahor - ritually pure - would they be able to produce ritually pure oil. (See Beis Yosef OC 670)

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    If they were impure then who lit the menorah?
    – Ariel
    Dec 11, 2012 at 7:19
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    That is an excellent question. In fact, it is one of the main arguments in favor of the first opinion. Those who argue that the problem was tumah argue that the ritual of lighting the menorah was performed by means of wooden sticks (פשוטי כלי עץ) that do not transfer tumah. (See the Maharsha on Shabbos 21b.)
    – LazerA
    Dec 11, 2012 at 15:15
  • according to the first answer there was no tahor oil in all of Jerusalem? Nobody even had some olives? according to the second answer there was not a single kohen who was tahor? a 13 year old child who didn't fight in the war should be able to light, no? Nov 22, 2013 at 14:33
  • I don't see how Tekoa is a four day journey from the Mikdash, unless there were military considerations blocking direct travel.
    – Double AA
    Nov 22, 2013 at 14:46
  • does this answer also assume that in those times there were not olives on הַר הַזֵּיתִים? Nov 25, 2013 at 20:42

The main thing that is bothering the person asking the question is why the oil could not have been made more quickly and more locally.

The answer is that true, there probably were viable alternatives to having to wait eight days, and since they of course did not know that the one flask of oil would miraculously last for eight days, they probably expected to avail themselves of one of these alternatives after one day. Nevertheless, they were obligated to immediately restore normal production of pure oil taken from where they normally got the most choice oil, which took eight days for the reasons mentioned in the previous answer.

Thus the miracle of the oil of Chanukah was that they did not have to resort to a second best lighting of the menorah because the oil miraculously burned long enough until the production of the best oil was restored.

  • +1 This is a good answer ,is it your savora?
    – sam
    Nov 27, 2013 at 0:53

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