The fifth day of Chanukah can never occur on a Shabbat. When
Chanukah occurs on days that are even only potentially Shabbat
days, the light of Chanukah combines with the light of Shabbat
for a powerful illumination. So the fifth night, which can
never be Shabbat, represents great darkness relative to the
other nights. Thus, the fifth light of Chanukah has the unique
task and power to illuminate and instill spirituality even in
such a time of darkness.
Similarly, it is the duty of every Jew, wherever he may find
himself, be it in Warsaw, England, the United States or
Canada, to illuminate even the greatest darkness.
- from a talk of the Rebbe in 1929 while in Warsaw Poland.
[Note: This talk encompasses a story than spans 60 years and is
available electronically. Click here if you would like the story]
In Chabad circles this day is of special significance because the
Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from his
second imprisonment on the fifth day of Chanukah, in the year 5561.
He was imprisoned because the government scholars thought that some
of the topics accentuated and expanded in his Chassidic philosophy
might cause insubordination to the government and refusal to engage in
mundane matters, though they are necessary for the existence of the
world. Upon articulately clarifying his teaching and dispelling their
fears, he gained his release.