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The History of Chanukah

The Menorah Files

   Light 1: The Contract

Light 2: The Consultant

Light 3: Quality

Light 4: Quantity

Light 5: Prozac

Light 6: Miracle Whip

Light 7: The Battle

Light 8: Darkness Shines

How to Celebrate Chanukah


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The Significance of Chanukah

 Light 4: Quantity Light 6: Miracle Whip

The Menorah Files

Light 5: Prozac
Published and copyright © 1997-1999 by by Tzvi Freeman
In memory of Rabbi Yosef Y. Kazen o.b.m.

OutaNowhere had learned their lesson from what had occurred with Quality. You could tell that from their presentation.

"We're not going to bore you with all the technical details behind this tremendous feat of spiritual engineering," continued the sales rep. "After all, we're an end-user oriented company. We've put a lot of thought into the practical, nitty-gritty - the things that count in the physical world where our target user resides. Here's our human interface expert to discuss ground level implementation."

The H.I. expert stepped up in front of the 3D-video display area. "Actually, we've got two options to present. The first option you've seen a demo of already, but here's a short animation that will demonstrate how far we've gone into the details. You'll also observe the virtual model of the Temple Menora here next to me."

A life-size image of a Hasmonean Cohen holding a jug of olive oil in front of the Menora appeared. This being heaven, with more than 3 dimensions available, the image displayed that the jug was full.

"Here's the initial state. Now observe what happens as the Cohen fills the cups of the Menora on the first day."

As the Cohen filled each cup, the jug became successively emptier. But then, just before the last drop poured out, the flask suddenly refilled itself. The Cohen froze for a moment, puzzled, stared into the jug, and then ran out of the Holy Chamber yelling, "A MIRACLE! A MIRACLE!"

"Note," the HI expert commented, "that as this scenario occurs each of the eight days, we have in effect eight separate miracles. This is in direct contradistinction to certain other solutions that offers only one miraculous state-change of the olive oil, which then remains consistent over the next eight days. Obviously, you can see the superiority of our..."

"You call that superiority!?" yelled a snide voice from the back of the room. It was the VP from Quality. All this time he had been sitting in a back row, arms folded, waiting for his chance to jump back into the ring. Now, completely out of protocol, unable to contain himself any longer, he grabbed it.

"Why, with your solution, the only ones who ever see a miracle are those who are there at the time of the lighting! After that, it's just everyday burning of olive oil. Our solution provides any witness at any point in time a clear view of a miraculous state, every day, at every moment!"

"But you must agree," replied the OutaNowhere expert, smugly, "that the actual miracle only occurs once in your solution. Once your oil is set to its high quality level on the first day, it just remains there. Here, every day, a miracle must occur for new oil to appear!"

"What does that have to do with the project requirements?" shot back Quality's VP.

The Chair Angel called for order, chiding Quality's VP for his disruption of protocol. But the HI expert was delighted his competition had provided the opportunity for him to fully present his thesis.

"The success of a miracle," he explained, "must be measured by the end user experience. Consider here the impact upon the human psyche. A continuous state of miracle would become accepted as natural routine within a single day. The sense of wonderment would rapidly wear out. By calling for spaced, intermittent miracles, we hope to sustain the wonderment factor for a much longer period. This, after a careful study of human psychology..."

"Psychology shmykology!" shot back the Quality VP. "Who are you kidding? What do you know about human psychology? What do any of us know? We're angels, for heaven's sake!"

"That's right," replied the expert. "We were on the design team."

"Design team!? Design team!?" mocked the VP. "Haven't you read the Adam Files?! If it were up to us, the Earthly Human Project would never have gotten beyond the World of Emanation stage!!"

The judges were enjoying the entertainment, but the ChairAngel finally had to interfere. "We have a human subject right here," he remarked. "Why don't we ask him?"

Rabbi Karo was reluctant. "I believe your test would be more meaningful if performed on a more skeptical specimen," he suggested. "Perhaps you have a Hellenist about here somewhere? Or maybe even an authentic Ancient Greek?"

"Your honor," ventured one of the lesser judges. "Perhaps we could call in the Sar Shel Yavan?"

The ChairAngel's face glowed with delight, as did the faces of the others. "Yes!" they cried out, one to the other. "The Sar Shel Yavan! Who else could we call to test end user experience?"

In the data processing protocol of heaven, there are only seventy nations. Over each of these is appointed a "sar" or "officer", somewhat lower than a full-fledged angel. "Yavan" is the name by which the Ancient Greeks are known. Thus the "Sar Shel Yavan" - the officer appointed over Ancient Greece.

He came hobbling on crutches, covered with wounds of war. His substance was as the walls of the chamber, that heavenly version of marble. You could still see the beauty and gracefulness for which he had been known, but military defeat and shame had taken its toll.

We won't get into the details of the user testing, at least in this edition. Suffice it to mention that the Sar refused to acknowledge any miracles, attributing everything to natural causes. When pressured, he began to accuse all the heavenly court of being "no better than those superstitious Jews, believing in things that make no sense, relying on empirical evidence rather than the truth of the natural sciences."

At any rate, he stayed to audit the rest of the hearings.

"Truthfully," the ChairAngel commented to Yosef Karo, "We've never had much success with end user experience. On occasion, we went through ten iterations of miracles before achieving our goals - and even then only with partial success."

The other judges nodded, resignedly.

"We even," the Chair Angel hesitated, "had to...drown the test subjects at the end of that cover up the data."

Yosef Karo took over. "However, I would like to go back to the scenario presented in your detailed animation," he continued. The OutaNowhere expert was relieved, feeling he was back on a more solid cloud.

"On the first day, that is the afternoon of the 25th, a miracle occurs, correct?"

"A very startling miracle, your honor. At least, certainly to the Maccabees for whom it is performed."

"And on the second day, the afternoon of the 26th, the same miracle?"

"That's correct."

"And so on, all the way until the eighth afternoon?"


"And then what happens?"

"On the ninth?"

"No, on the eighth. What miracle occurs on the eighth? Remember, there are eight days of Chanukah. Or are you proposing to change that?"

"Well, just the same as the seven days before could occur." The human interface expert passed a quick, nervous glance over to the other members of his team.

"I'm sorry," countered the ChairAngel. "But we have a policy concerning such matters. Miracles must always serve a practical function. Nobody, not even Heaven Inc., is allowed to make miracles just for the heck of it. And in this case, since new oil will be arriving on the ninth day anyway, there is no need for your miracle on the eighth. The Cohen can just empty out his entire jug on the eighth day, with no need for your miraculous auto-refill out of nowhere."

The sales rep from OutaNowhere was motioning wildly to the HI expert. All those dealings with earthly beings had dulled his angelic intellectual brilliance. But finally the puzzled expression on the expert's face resolved into glee, as he exclaimed, "Yes! Oh yes! That's why we have solution #2. Here it goes:"

Another animation began. The initial state was the same, but this time, the jug emptied entirely. The animation collapsed the next 12 hours into a few nanoseconds, during which the oil progressively decreased in quantity. Then, just as it hit the last drop, oil returned suddenly to the cups of the Menora. A Hasmonean Cohen entered the Holy Chamber that morning - technically day two of Chanukah - to prepare the Menora as per Temple ritual. He looked in the cups, saw the oil and ran out waving his arms and yelling, "A MIRACLE! A MIRACLE!"

"Now, you'll observe in this scenario," concluded the expert, "since the miracle occurs the day after, instead of immediately, the miracle must also therefore occur on the 8th day of Chanukah, in order that the Menora may be lit on that afternoon!"

"You'll also notice," pitched in the sales rep, "that we've provided all of you with auto-refilling coffee mugs to demonstrate this wonderful application of our technology. We're not limited to refilling the source - we can even cause the recipient vessel to auto-refill!"

Yosef Karo sat poker-faced, astonished by the trap OutaNowhere had laid for itself. "And what about the first day?" he softly queried.

"The first day?"

"Yes. You said the miracle doesn't occur until the day after. What miracle do we celebrate on the first day then?"

The expert was by now searching his pockets for his Prozac. His team members had their heads practically between their knees. The CEO of OutaNowhere could no longer take it. He jumped up there in a last ditch attempt to save his company.

"Gentle Angels," he said, feigning suave and good humor. "I'm sure you yourselves have realized the most obvious solution, so simple we didn't feel need to mention it!"

 Light 4: Quantity Light 6: Miracle Whip

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