The Jewish festival of Hanukkah, meant to commemorate a long-ago miracle, begins tonight at sundown. What is the miracle being celebrated?
Not, as you might think, the Maccabees’ very unlikely military victories against the mighty Syrian-Greek army. While that used to be the miracle that Hanukkah was built around, many years ago and for a relatively short time, it was ultimately replaced by a different miracle: that when the Maccabees recaptured their temple and found only one day’s worth of pure olive oil, the oil miraculously burned for eight days. In other words, the Maccabees miraculously overcame a potentially devastating oil shortage.
And so it seems worth noting that today, on the eve of Hanukkah, comes the announcement that OPEC has decided to cut oil production by 500,000 barrels a day as of February 1. This will create our very own oil shortage — admittedly a very minor one, whose intent is to regulate its price. And when it happens, it will probably take a miracle to prevent Americans from flipping out over the cost of gas.