The Chanukiah, the Chanukah Menorah, reminds us of the Bais HaMikdash Menorah. This seven-branched Bais HaMikdash Menorah is a primary symbol of the Jewish nation. Though it wasn’t actually always burning, the Bais HaMikdash Menorah represents a Ner Tamid, a light that was always burning. A light to combat darkness. Like many objects and acts connected to the Bais HaMikdash, we are careful not to do acts that are only permitted within the Bais HaMikdash. So we do not recreate and own Bais HaMikdash Menorahs. But we do own Chanukiahs, Chanukah Menorahs.
Much like the Ner Tamid of the Bais HaMikdash Menorah, the flames of the Chanukiah menorah are a symbol of the pintele yid, the inner spark of Jewishness within klal Yisrael and every Jew. While on Purim, we remember that Am Yisrael was at risk of being destroyed physically, on Chanukah, we remember that Am Yisrael was at risk of being destroyed spiritually. Chanukah is the holiday that reminds the Jews of the danger of assimilation. (Which is ironic in that, for many Jews, Chanukah has become so closely tied to Christmas and “the holiday season”.) The miracle of Chanukah is that Am Yisrael didn’t have enough oil, enough energy, to burn for the eight days necessary for the rededication of the Bais HaMikdash. None the less, it did. As Jews, we recognize and celebrate our Jewishness, our pintele yid that should have been extinguished, but has not. And this is miraculous.
The eight days of Chanukah, the eight branches of the Chanukah Menorah are significant in that six represents the physical world (e.g. a cube has six sides, physically, we live in a three-dimensional, six-sided world), seven (e.g. Shabbas) represents the spiritual world, beyond the physical, and eight represents going beyond both the physical and the spiritual. Eight is about miracles. From the small flame that will seemingly be extinguished to eight burning flames. Chanukah represents the miracle of the pintele yid, both within Am Yisrael and within every Jew, that we, with enormous help from Hashem, not only keep alive but build and grow.
And then, not coincidentally, after Chanukah, we have the long winter until our next Jewish holiday.