The Authentic Signature

Friday, 8 December, 2023 - 7:45 am

After the Maccabees successfully drove the Greek-Syrians out and retook the Temple in Jerusalem, their first call of duty was reestablishing the rites of the Temple. They found lots of oil in the Temple, but only one jug that had the seal of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) still intact. We are familiar with the miraculous ending of the story – the oil lasted not one day, but eight. Hence, the eight days of Chanukah.

But, if the Greeks were aiming to prevent the Jews from practicing the Temple rituals, why not steal all the oil altogether?


A Rembrandt piece of art is auctioned for millions of dollars and original classic cars are sold for several hundred thousand dollars because of their unique quality and limited availability. But if it’s a fake painting or a replica car, it’s virtually worthless in the collectors’ universe.  Authenticity is what adds a few zeros to the price tag.


The Greeks were not bothered by the rituals of the Temple. A candelabrum is elegant, meaningful and useful.  In fact, their issue with the Temple was not Jewish might or racism. They openly embraced Jews – but only Jews who had adopted the Hellenistic lifestyle.

In breaking the seals on the oil containers, the Greeks were making a statement: “You can light the menorah. But don’t tell me there is anything extraordinary about this sacred oil.”

Ironically, to the Greek champions of art and culture, if the authenticity of an item was taken away it remained the same!


Ritual without G-d, and mitzvot without spirit, are like fake paintings and plagiarized books. And, ironically, G-d is priceless but readily available.

As we kindle the lights of the menorah, let us remember what the Jews fought for. Let us rededicate ourselves to bringing G-d into the mitzvos that we already perform.

Let’s remember that the Torah is a gift from G-d. It’s a love letter signed by its Author.

That will certainly lead to more mitzvot. And to a bright future for the Jewish people and all of humanity.

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