Who Hid the Cruise of Oil?
defeating the Syrian army at Beth Tzur (165 BCE), Judah
Maccabee and his followers marched toward Jerusalem. After
liberating the city, they headed toward the Temple to re-consecrate
it to the service of the One God. They destroyed the statue of Zeus
which the Syrian invader, Antiochus, had placed in the sanctuary.
They brought back the golden candelabra, and they set it up once
again on its proper stand.
The inhabitants of Jerusalem came in great numbers for the rededication
ceremony. As the High Priest was about to proceed with
the kindling of the Menorah, he realized that he did not have any
consecrated oil. How could he give thanks to God for the wonderful
victory, without the shining lights of the Menorah?
They searched in every corner of the Sanctuary but they could
not find a single cruise of oil bearing the seal of the High Priest.
The Syrians had plundered all the oil from the Temple!
They were about to postpone the ceremony to allow the Levites
the time to produce fresh oil when a little girl, eight or nine years
old, suddenly entered the Temple and with a loud voice, proudly
“I know where there is a cruse of pure oil which has not been
desecrated by the pagans.”
The eyes of all were directed at the little girl.
“Don’t you know that the priests looked everywhere,” said Shimon,
the chief officer, “and they did nor find a single cruise of oil. How
do you know that there still is one?”
“This may surprise you, officer,” said the little girl, “but I do know
where there is a cruse of oil bearing the seal of the High Priest and
I could lead you to the place.”
The High Priest hesitated for a while; he then agreed to let a
few priests follow the little girl. She took them to the room where
the priests used to store the oil destined for the kindling of the
“You see, little girl, this room is completely empty” they said “and
there is no trace of the oil we had stored here.”
“You are wrong,” she said, “if you look behind these dried leaves
in this corner of the wall, you will find what you are looking for.”
She pointed her finger to a little cavity in the wall. They went to
the place and they found a cruse of oil bearing the seal of the High
Priest. They brought it in the Sanctuary and everyone rejoiced
about the unexpected discovery.
The officer then turned toward the little girl and asked her:
“Who are you, little girl, and how did you know the place where
this cruse of oil was found?”
“Officer, I shall answer your questions. My name is Berakhah; I am
the daughter of Judah. I knew the place because I hid this cruse of
oil last year, before the Syrians began to ransack the Temple.”
“And who gave you the idea to do such a thing?” asked the officer.
“You may not believe it, officer, but I am almost certain that it was
you, for I distinctly recognize your voice,” said Berakhah. “It
happened during a staff meeting which was held in our house, I
overheard you say that the Syrians would soon begin to plunder the
treasures of the Temple. At that very moment, I made my plan.”
“And how did you manage to get into the back-room of the Temple
without being stopped?” asked the officer.
“That was quite simple.” responded Berakhah. “The day after the
staff meeting, I quietly went to the Temple. I pretended I had come
to worship Zeus. Instead, however, I disappeared in the corridor
and I entered the storeroom, while no one was paying attention to
me. I quickly took a cruse of oil and I hid it in the the cavity of the
wall and covered it with some dried leaves. I was hoping that no
one would be looking there and that I would be the only one to
know the secret.”
“And why did you do that, Berakhah?” asked the officer.
“I did it because I was confident that my father and his army would
succeed in liberating Jerusalem. I wanted to make sure we would be
able to kindle the Menorah on the day he and his soldiers would
enter the Temple to celebrate their victory.”
“This was good thinking on your part,” said the officer, “and we are
all grateful to you, dear Berakhah. You have been just as inspired
as your father. Thanks to you, we shall now be able to kindle the
Menorah and celebrate Hanukkah.”
That is why, friends, when we light the Menorah every night of the
holiday, we should remember all the little girls like Berakhah, who
participated in the wonderful event of Hanukah.