Q. What was the worst thing that the Maccabees had to handle?
A. Dryden says, “Of all the tyrannies of human kind, the worst is that which persecutes the mind”. That’s your answer. It is not that the people of Judea couldn’t live under the yoke of the enemy, but that an intolerable form of spiritual and mental oppression was placed upon them.
The Maccabees had to win the war for the Temple but they also had to cleanse the minds of the nation from false ideas and unacceptable ethics. They rekindled the ner tamid in the sanctuary not merely for ritual purposes but because it symbolised the pure light of belief in God, the flame of Divine truth, and the principle of Jewish moral illumination of the world.