MONROE, CT — Rabbi Israel Stock Jr. dispelled a popular myth about Hanukkah, while speaking to a crowd during the annual lighting of the menorah Monday evening, an event held near the town gazebo.
It is popularly believed there was a shortage of oil to light the menorah after the Israelites drove the Greeks out, ending an occupation by the Seleucid Empire.
“There was plenty of oil to light the menorah,” Stock said. “In fact, they had enough oil to light the menorah for eight months, not just eight days.”
During the occupation, the Greeks broke the seal of each jar of oil, making it impure. Though, Jews are allowed to use impure oil to light the menorah when it is a necessity, the Israelites wanted to use pure oil. They found a small container of pure olive oil, though it was not normally used for this purpose.
“God saw the pure intentions of everyone at the time and God made the miracle — and it lasted for eight days,” Stock explained.
Stock said sages tell them there is a jar of pure oil within everyone, which can never be defiled or desecrated by the Seleucids, the Romans, all the other kingdoms or any of those who try to persecute the Jewish people in their place.
He said the small jug of oil represents the essence of everyone’s soul.
“The Jewish spark that brought us here on this freezing night to light the menorah is represented by that one jug of oil that can never be desecrated,” Stock said. “Tonight is the night when light overcomes darkness.”
Just as the top candle of the menorah lights the others, Stock said God wants us to spread our own light, from one act of kindness that inspires to sharing a skill with others.
Patches for the wall
Stock also shared the significance of latkes, the potato pancakes Jews eat during Hanukkah.
When the Seleucid Empire invaded Israel, the Greeks broke the wall of the temple in 18 different places before God helped a small number of Jews drive them out, Stock said.
The Jews later repaired the wall. To remember the event, they wanted to make a food resembling patches to symbolize the patching of the wall. Latkes means patch in Yiddish, according to Stock.
Stock ended his speech with a prayer asking God to continue making miracles.
Steven Krasilovsky of Monroe gave the blessing.
First Selectman Terry Rooney attended the ceremony and said a few words.
“I’m honored to be here. I’m honored to celebrate the holiday with all of you,” Rooney said. “Monroe is just an inviting town, a welcoming town.”
The first selectman complimented Stock for his speech, saying he learned something from the stories and the history.
Rabbi Israel Stock Sr., Stock’s father, thanked State Trooper Matthew Gamson for attending the ceremony with his wife and family, and the Monroe Police Department for its presence there.
“And I want to thank the town of Monroe for allowing us this privilege to be able to light the menorah and conduct this ceremony on the town green for many years,” he said.
Gamson, who is with Troop G in Bridgeport, attended the menorah lighting for the second consecutive year. “The troop likes to send someone out to make sure people are having a good time and are safe,” he said.
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