What's so holy about olive oil? On Hanukkah, olive oil is a part of the story. According to the Talmud the Maccabees only found one sealed vessel of consecrated olive oil with which to light the Menorah. To celebrate the eight days of overtime that oil worked, we break out the oil for our own menorahs, plus latkes, sufganiyot, and other delicious things.
oil has a much bigger role to play in Jewish life—in Exodus God gives a
recipe for shemen hamishchah, the oil of anointing. This oil is made up
of olive oil combined with spices (myrrh, cinnamon, cassia, and either
sweet calamus or cannabis, depending on who you ask) and is used to
anoint holy things, including everything in the Tabernacle, all of the
priests, some prophets, and kings.
We no longer pour oil on
things we think are holy (think how greasy synagogues would be if we
did!), but it's nice to have this one holiday where we connect with our
slippery, wonderfully scented history.
- Tamar Fox for Jewniverse