In a previous post regarding the quantity of oil sufficient for one day’s lighting of the Menorah the answer given was the quantity of oil is more than one liter, but not more than two liters per day, hardly a large amount. I have a one liter bottle of olive oil in my pantry, and a four liter can in the basement.

This response raises a question:

The Rambam – Laws of Chanukah 3:2, states that it took eight days to press and extract pure olive oil.

והדליקו ממנו נרות המערכה שמונה ימים עד שכתשו זיתים והוציאו מן טהור…

…and they lit the arranged (?) lamps from it for eight days until they pressed olives and extracted pure oil.

Eight days is very long time to obtain a relatively small quantity of oil (16 liters maximum for 8 days). Theoretically in 165 BCE, you did not have to go far to find jars of oil. Ramat Rachel, a few miles south of Jerusalem, historically was a collection and distribution center for oil and wine for 100’s of years (Taxes and tribute were paid in oil and wine).

My question then is: Where was the Rambam coming from that eight days were required?

  • Is there a machlokes whether or not it took less than 8 days? I was pretty sure that everyone agreed with the time frame of 8 days. – rosenjcb Dec 22 '14 at 4:23

According to the Beis Yosef in siman 671 they needed to go through the tahara process of para aduma which took seven days and one more for the oil making. He also brings the Ran who says the oil refinery was 4 days travel away. Four there, four back, there's eight days for you.

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Don't forget that they were fresh from fighting a war. They had to purify themselves from the tum'as meis. They also had to make sure that everything was done in taharah.

Also the pressing had to be only the first squeezing (without pressure) of the olives. It is not quite as simple as it seems.

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