A Menorah By Any Name


Jerusalem, Israel
HaRav Yehuda Kroizer SHLIT"A, Rosh Yeshiva

16 Sivan 5767/1-2 June 2007


Hashem spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to Aharon and say to him: When you kindle the lamps, toward the face of the Menorah shall the seven lamps cast light." Moses, though, could not comprehend why Hashem asked him to relay this commandment. For every time he would enter the Tabernacle, he found that it was brilliantly lit with the splendor of the Divine Presence. How, wondered Moses, could the lights of the poor earthly Menorah compare to the splendor which Hashem radiates? Hashem, therefore, told Moses to kindle the lights, for through this action, the Jewish people would become spiritually elevated by the lighting of the Menorah. Yes, even though the Divine light was there, there was still a need for the Jewish people to bring the light. In fact, if we would wake up one day and have fire come down from Heaven and light the Menorah for us, we would not be able to use it, but are commanded to bring our own light.

With this in mind, I remember once a friend of mine commenting on the sentence in our parsha. The workmanship of the Menorah was such that it was hammered out of gold, from the base to its flowers it is hammered out; according to the vision that Hashem showed Moses, so he made the Menorah.

Upon seeing how complex the making of the Menorah was, my friend became dismayed, saying that even Moses was perplexed about how the Menorah should be constructed, until Hashem Himself took Moses and showed him. If so, then this is an almost impossible task - how can we hope to build one today, for without it there seemingly can be no work in the Temple.

Pressed for an answer, I turned to the Rambam to see if he could shed some light on the subject (pardon the pun). Yes, it seemed very complex, with all the flowers, knobs and buttons decorating the Menorah making a total of 42. If just one is missing, the Menorah cannot be used in the Temple service. Moreover, the Menorah must stand on three legs, with a height of about a meter and a half. All of this was to come from one piece of gold. I cried out, who can build such a Menorah? Were we doomed forever not to have a working Menorah?

But reading on in the Rambam, the answer came. All of the above laws apply when the Menorah is made out of gold, but if we make it out of any other metal we do not have to have the flowers, buttons or knobs, and it does not have to be made out of one piece. This means that even today, we can go to the Temple Mount and have the Kohanim light a Menorah and thus to fulfill the commandment of the lighting. All we need is the spot on the Temple Mount and seven metal poles, the tips of which could hold the olive oil.

Historically, this is exactly what we find when the Maccabees re-entered the Temple after successfully throwing out the Greeks. The golden Menorah had long been taken out of the Temple by the Greeks; the Macabees took seven long poles and placed the oil on top of them, fulfilling the commandment of the lighting. It was not until some years later that they had the financial means to make one out of silver, and then, finally, out of gold. Yes, years later, they, the Hashmona'im, were able to finally make one out of gold. As complex as it may be, still, the bottom line is that if Hashem commanded the Jewish people with a commandment (in this case, to build a Menorah to light everyday), then it must be in our power to do so, for Hashem would not command anything that could not be done.

This, then, is the great lesson to be learnt here: If Hashem gave us the mitzvah/commandment, then it is in our hands to do, including the Menorah, the Temple and all the other items needs for the service. Come - Let us all go and build the House of the L-rd!

With love of Israel,
Levi Chazen

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