There’s something interesting about Pesach that is uncommon, if not unique.

There are many mitzvos and rituals which commemorate that something happened. What we don’t find too often is commemorating the way something happened.

The reason we eat Matza is not just that our ancestors left Egypt, but the way they left Egypt, in a hurry – בחפזון. They left in a hurry so didn’t have time to bake bread, so we eat a quickly cooked dough as well.

What’s different and important about the fact they left in a hurry?

Doing something quickly can be good or bad depending on the context. Yet Rav Hutner notes that getting things done quickly is a celebrated principle in Judaism – זריזין מקדימין למצות.

Rav Hutner explains that the source of this principle is learned from the Matza our ancestors ate because they left in a hurry. The Midrash warns us to guard the Matzos / Mitzvos – ושמרתם את המצות. Speed is not just an extra credit; waiting will spoil it!

The Vilna Gaon notes that in our daily prayers, we thank God for creating space, but also for time – ברוך אומר ועושה, ברוך עושה בראשית.

The moment the Jews became connected to the Creator, they underwent a metamorphosis from existing within the system to immortal souls operating on a plane above creation and above time. When something eternal meets something temporal, the result is something quick; where נצחי interacts with זמן, you get חפזון.

Perhaps that is why the final plague happened כחצות, in a non-moment.

This might sound complex, but it’s intuitive. When something is important, you do it as quickly as possible.

R’ Shlomo Farhi teaches that a lack of urgency can profane something from sacred to just another item on the to-do list. And the source of this key concept is the birth of the Jewish People, commemorated by the Matza our ancestors baked in a hurry.

The Chagim are extensively detailed, earning their own books in the Gemara. All of them, except Chanuka.

The Midrash also states an opinion that when all the Jews are back in Israel, with a Third Temple, the Chagim may not be observed the way they are today – except Purim and Chanuka. What is Chanuka’s essential purpose, and why is it not clearly stated anywhere?

Rav Hutner explains that Chanuka and Purim were not direct interventions from God; they were events instigated by humans reaching out. At a time when tyranny sought to purge Judaism of what made it Jewish, a select few stood up to fight for spirituality and the oral Torah.

At its core, the Torah is what binds us to God, it is the place from where our commitment stems from. The nature of oral Torah is that largely unwritten. What is written is terse in style, and only a guideline for exploring larger topics. It is primarily learnt by word of mouth; it needs to be discussed to explore it fully. It reflects the underlying commitment – it is all-encompassing.

The Chanuka story was about a few people willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to show the value of the principle of commitment to God. People are needed to uphold the covenant, or there isn’t one. This is why Chanuka cannot have been fully explained. This explanation still does not do it justice; it cannot. It is the bigger picture of dedication that trumps everything.

The factual circumstances of the story reflect the spiritual circumstances; the little bit of unadulterated oil left was the few remaining unadulterated Jews. That so little oil lasted so long was the few Jews commitment being sufficient to reignite everyone else’s flame.

This is why Chanuka was the last of the Chagim to be established. With it, exile is not the end. No matter the odds, a handful of good people can turn it around in a heartbeat. Chazal say that Chanuka gave the powe to rescue light from darkness itself.

Darkness, and it’s corollary, forgetfulness, are setbacks that set the stage for comebacks. Torah, the instrument of our commitment, is practiced and studied, to develop and strengthen the relationship. All sincere discussion is Torah, even an incorrect opinion. Exile, the darkness of the unknown, can be faced with such an ability in our arsenal.

It speaks volumes that the Chag is called חנוכה, a derivative of the word חינוך, education. It is not called “Martyrdom”, or “Sacrifice”. Because it is about education. In a mechanical world, there can be a free choice of commitment. Note how the mitzva of Menora is always performed to its highest standard; no one does the basic mitzva of one candle per house – everyone lights progressively more. Excellence is the standard for such an important theme.

Chanuka was the final piece of the jigsaw that lets us choose to be resolute; able to withstand crushing circumstances.