Al Hanissim Ve’al Hapurkan… Because of the miracles, redemption, strength, and salvation from our enemies that You have provided for us in those days at this time…
Why does this Chanukah Tefillah begin in the plural Nissim – Miracles?
Which miracles are we talking about? The Talmud refers to only one miracle- namely the finding and burning of the small amount of pure oil for eight days. Indeed there are other references to the miracle of the military victory of the Macabees over the powerful Greek legions but it directly led to the miracle of the oil. So why do we mention in our prayer Al Hanissim in the plural?
The Ramban explains at the end of the book of Exodus – that when we witness the hand of G-d affecting the supernatural, it guides us to recognize and appreciate G-d’s providence over everyday life as well. Therefore, we recite Al Hanissim (pl) to demonstrate our acceptance and gratitude for all of G-d’s assistance in all aspects of life.
The Baalei Mussar discuss which is more of a miracle – nature or the supernatural? It seems that nature is more miraculous. A supernatural miracle happens now and then without consistency and balance. The natural phenomena that we experience in the world are consistent, measurable, predictable and incredible.
This concept is referred to in the prayer of thanksgiving we recite each day Modim Anachnu Lach – We thank You – where it states Al Nisecha Venifliotecha shebechol eit erev vaboker…… for the miracles you provide for us every moment of every day.
Chanukah is a time to not only focus on the survival of the Jewish nation against the Greeks. It is also the time to express gratitude for all of life’s blessings. It is a time to sing and unite as families and as a people to realize that we are a unique and special nation and that our task in the world is to light up the darkness with candles of light and spirit, to represent goodness, morality and truth so that we will be able to light the Menorah again soon in the Holy Temple and experience G-d’s presence in a good and light filled world.
Shabbat Shalom and Chanukah Somayach,
Rabbi Ephraim Epstein