The Gemara in Shabbos (daf 21 amud beis) says: “What is Chanukah?” Rashi explains this as: “Regarding which miracle was the festival of Chanukah established upon?” As there was more than one miracle which occurred. There was the miracle of the military victory of the few Chashmonaim who fought against the many powerful Greeks. And there also was the miracle of the oil in the Menorah lasting for eight days.
The Gemara tells us that the miracle which Chanukah was established upon, was the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days.
Why was this miracle singled out and not the miracle of the military victory?
Perhaps this can be an explanation: The point of this holiday is not limited to having donuts. There is also a spiritual element to it as well. During Chanukah we are meant to use the mitzvos of the holiday to grow with them. To internalize the messages that are contained within the mitzvos of the holiday. And there is one specific message that comes specifically from the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days itself, that can be applied to our life. The message is as follows: This miracle, of the oil lasting for eight days, was performed so as to enable the Cohanim to be able to serve Hashem in the best way possible. Through being able to light the menorah using only pure oil. For otherwise they would have had to use impure oil. For this reason, the sages instituted Chanukah. To celebrate the fact that we were able to serve Hashem in the best way possible.
Therefore when one lights the menorah, one should have in mind that, I too, should be grateful for the fact that that I am alive, with all for the opportunities to serve Hashem. One should realize that whenever one is given the chance to serve Hashem, and especially if it can be done in a beautiful way, such as doing the dishes without being asked or buying a beautiful esrog, then that is a cause for celebration. And by doing that one can work on implementing the lesson of Chanukah- to celebrate when given a chance to serve Hashem in the best way that one can.
Shmuel Brodersen is a talmid of Rav Binyomin Moskovitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Midrash Shmuel, Yerushalayim.