What is the symbol of the Jewish people? Ask most people and they’ll tell you the Star of David. But the Star of David as our national symbol actually isn’t that old. Maybe a few hundred years old, perhaps a thousand years. But believe it or not, there’s no historical, archeological or biblical evidence that David ever used such a star!
When the State of Israel was established, the leaders of the fledgling country debated what the national symbol should be. The two hottest picks were the Star of David and the Menorah. Eventually, they decided to feature the Star of David on the flag and the Menorah as the emblem on the coat of arms.
Why was the Menorah the classic symbol of the Jewish people?
The Mishnah states, “One who reads the megillah retrospectively has not fulfilled his obligation.”
Our Sages explain that the practical meaning of the Mishnah is that one does not fulfill one’s obligation of reading the megillah on Purim if he read it out of sequence. It must be read from beginning to end in order.
Literally, however, retrospectively means to read it and imagine that you are simply reading stories that happened a long time ago, like a history book. The Torah is not a history book. Torah comes from the word horaah, meaning instruction, or the word orah, meaning light. The Torah should light up our lives by instructing us how to live meaningful lives.
Windows are normally designed to let light in. The windows of the Holy Temple, however, were designed in such a way that the light of the Menorah could shine forth from the Temple to the world. Instead of flowing inward, the light of the Temple flowed outwards! The Menorah is the symbol of our people, because our mission is to spread the Divine light of Torah throughout the world.
If you read the megillah or any book of the Torah as a mere story, the Mishnah says that you’ve missed the point. If the Torah doesn’t speak to you, if the Torah doesn’t sing to you, if the Torah doesn’t light up your life, then you’re not reading it right!
Learn the Torah! Delve into its teachings! Take ownership of the Torah! Make it meaningful to you! The Torah’s light is an eternal message. It is our compass for all generations. Once you apply yourself to your Torah study, you will see how the Torah applies to your life and you too will want to share the light of Torah with all around!