second blessing recited over kindling the Chanukah lights
are you, Hashem, our God, Who wrought miracles
for our forefathers, in those days at this season.
attaches the significance of the holiday to the spiritual
influence of its historical source. This influence repeats
itself again every year through the observance of the
holiday. We believe “history repeats itself” in a literal
The following story poignantly demonstrates this principle.
A MODERN DAY
twenty-five years as a volunteer chaplain at the University
of Maryland Medical Center and John Hopkins University have
given Moshe Sauer many opportunities to help others - while
kindling within them a spiritual awareness of Hashem and His
mitzvos. It hasn't always been easy for Moshe to meet his
objectives. Moshe often marvels at the clear hand of Hashem
that led him to success - even in the most unusual
One Chanukah, Moshe walked into a hospital room and found a
deathly ill Jewish man, together with his brother. He
introduced himself as the Jewish chaplain, and began to talk
with the two men. During the course of the conversation,
Moshe discovered that the two brothers had been in business
together and were still extremely close.
The brothers were clearly not religious, yet a hospital is
often a catalyst to renewed interest in spiritual matters.
Moshe asked them if they were interested in doing a mitzvah,
as a source of merit for a recovery.
The two brothers looked at each other for a long moment.
Finally, the visitor turned to Moshe.
"It certainly can't hurt," he said quietly. "Tell us what we
need to do."
Moshe thought quickly. "It's Chanukah tonight," he mused
aloud. "You could light the Chanukah menorah.
"That sounds perfect. We know all about Hanukah. Can you
arrange it for us?"
Moshe suddenly realized that he was completely unprepared
for this task. He had no menorah, oil or wicks - and he
needed to get them fast, while the inspiration was still
"I'II be right back," he told the two men.
He dashed out of the room and headed for the kitchens - only
to find the doors locked for the night. Desperate, his eyes
roamed the hallway, searching for some solution to his
dilemma. He glanced at a nearby garbage can - and caught a
glimpse of a soda cap on top of the pile.
"It may not be elegant," he muttered, "but it will have to
Moshe scooped up the cap, then proceeded to the nurses'
station, where he asked for some gauze. "A few strands of
this will make a fine wick," he thought appreciatively.
He had his menorah and the wick. Now he needed the oil. For
this step, he knew he would have to get some help. The
nurses were standing around, watching him curiously.
Explaining his quest to them was the work of a moment. The
sympathetic staff began searching for some oil - or any fuel
that would work to kindle the tiny flame. They opened
cupboards, searched through doors, and peered into shelves -
with no luck. Suddenly, Moshe gave a triumphant shout.
"Look at this!"
To the astonishment of the nursing staff, he was holding up
a small bottle of genuine olive oil! He had found it in a
small cabinet that looked as if it had been abandoned for
the past ten years.
"Is it all right for me to use it?" Moshe asked.
"It doesn't belong to anyone, as far as we can tell. Go
Clutching all his paraphernalia, Moshe ran back into the
"I'm ready," he panted.
He quickly set up the makeshift menorah on a nearby table
and prepared to light it, with the patient and his brother
watching intently. The inappropriateness of lighting a fire
in the intensive care unit hadn't occurred to anyone
involved - they were all completely focused on the mitzvah.
everything was ready. Moshe stood together with the two
brothers and recited the appropriate blessings, then lit the
small flame. As a spiritual blaze was kindled in the hearts
of the two brothers, Moshe reflected on the Chanukah miracle
he himself had witnessed - a small bottle of oil found in
the most unlikely location, just as had occurred during the
time of the Bais Hamikdash.
Source: From the
booklet Vignettes of Greatness, A Compilation of Yom Tov
Stories from the Acclaimed “Visions of Greatness” Series by
Rabbi Yosef Weiss. CIS Publications. Lakewood, New Jersey.
Original title of the story is, “An Emergency Chanukah”.
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