There is the age-old Jewish teaching song that talks about numbers and what they represent to a Jew. Tonight is the 8th Night of Chanukah.
Who knows 8? I know 8 – “eight are the day to the bris” as the words of the song go. A boy is born. The Greeks claimed a person is born complete, that man, born with animalistic urges ought to revel in it and stay with that as a perfect state of being. Comes along Jewish Halacha and it tells us that, no, man is not born a finished product. The goal of man is to refine his nature and go beyond mere flesh and blood infatuation to focus his life on something more profound – on spirituality and G-dliness. The pact that seals the deal takes place 8 days after the baby is born, at the time of the Bris Mila, the circumcision rites.
The symbol for infinity looks quite like the number 8. The number of miraculous, of going beyond physical limitation to where nature no longer has a hold on us, because we’ve gone beyond our “nature”.
Why is Chanukah 8 nights? Supposedly because some very determined Jews decided not to look at what is natural. A small band of religious “fanatics” waged a war against the movement du jour and against the then-world-power. They fought beyond all possibilities, past tragedies and onward, fueled by a vision of spirituality. They found oil that ought to last but one night… and lit it. The miracle was that the oil lasted for a full week. Then, why the 8th night? Because the quest for spirituality was above nature, too. That burn and desire that the Jewish fanatics had to keep the Menorah lit the right way and the will of the Jews to keep Jewish law through the darkest moments is a miracle worthy of being celebrated on its own special night.
That is why the last night and day of Chanukah, we can pray for, anticipate and get beyond-the-nature miracles.