IIRC, as the Chanukkah story goes, the Greeks entered the Temple and defiled all the oil needed for lighting the Menorah.

Why didn't the Greeks spoil Red heifer ashes, as it, seemingly, is far more mattering, valuable and rare?

(This is my Chevrutah's question, I didn't' think of it)

  • 1
    If you came to ransack my house, would you touch the food or the mothballs?
    – Double AA
    Dec 12, 2019 at 19:38
  • @DoubleAA I don't understand the metaphor. I think it's logical that the enemy would seek the highest impact.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 12, 2019 at 19:41
  • Highest impact for their supplies gathering. Indeed!
    – Double AA
    Dec 12, 2019 at 19:46
  • 2
    The ashes seem to have been kept in multiple places throughout the land, not only at the Beit HaMikdash
    – Joel K
    Dec 12, 2019 at 21:11
  • @DoubleAA Oh, I get it now. But the narrative IIRC was always about them trying to hurt the Temple functions, not just looting it, isn't it so?
    – Al Berko
    Dec 12, 2019 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


Most of it wasn't kept in the Beis Hamikdash and the part that was in the Bais Hamikdash was kept in hidden places.

The Rambam in Hilchas Para Aduma Perek Gimmel says

אֵין מַכְנִיסִין כְּלוּם מֵאֶפְרָהּ לְהַנִּיחוֹ בָּעֲזָרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יט ט) "וְהִנִּיחַ מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה". וּשְׁלֹשָׁה חֲלָקִים הָיוּ חוֹלְקִין אֶת כָּל אֶפְרָהּ אֶחָד נִתַּן בַּחֵיל וְאֶחָד בְּהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה וְאֶחָד מִתְחַלֵּק לְכָל הַמִּשְׁמָרוֹת. זֶה שֶׁמִּתְחַלֵּק לְכָל הַמִּשְׁמָרוֹת הָיוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים מְקַדְּשִׁין מִמֶּנּוּ. וְזֶה שֶׁנִּתַּן בְּהַר הַמִּשְׁחָה הָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַזִּין מִמֶּנּוּ. וְזֶה שֶׁנִּתַּן בַּחֵיל הָיָה מוּכָן וּמֻצְנָע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר יט ט) "וְהָיְתָה לַעֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לְמִשְׁמֶרֶת" מְלַמֵּד שֶׁמַּצְנִיעִין מִמֶּנּוּ. וְכֵן הָיוּ מַצְנִיעִין מֵאֵפֶר כָּל פָּרָה וּפָרָה שֶׁשּׂוֹרְפִין בַּחֵיל. וְתֵשַׁע פָּרוֹת אֲדֻמּוֹת נַעֲשׂוּ מִשֶּׁנִּצְטַוּוּ בְּמִצְוָה זוֹ עַד שֶׁחָרַב הַבַּיִת בַּשְּׁנִיָּה. רִאשׁוֹנָה עָשָׂה משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ. שְׁנִיָּה עָשָׂה עֶזְרָא. וְשֶׁבַע מֵעֶזְרָא עַד חֻרְבַּן הַבַּיִת. וְהָעֲשִׂירִית יַעֲשֶׂה הַמֶּלֶךְ הַמָּשִׁיחַ מְהֵרָה

None of its ashes are brought into the Temple Courtyard for storage, as ibid.:9 states: "And he shall place it outside the camp." The ashes were divided into three portions: one was placed in the chayl one, on the Mount of Olives, and one, was divided among all the priestly guardposts. The one that was divided among all the priestly watches was used by the priests to sanctify themselves. The one that was placed on the Mount of Olives was used by the entire Jewish people for sprinkling. And the one that was placed in the chayl was prepared and hidden away, as implied by ibid. which states: "It will be a security for the congregation of Israel." This teaches that it was put away for safekeeping. Indeed, in the chayl, they would put away for safekeeping a portion of the ashes from every red heifer that was burnt

  • Thank you, this might answer the question. However, I still wonder, had they wanted to disrupt the Beis Hamikdosh work shouldn't they be after the ashes instead of the oil?
    – Al Berko
    Dec 13, 2019 at 9:08

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