Recently, I was asked, “Rabbi, what’s a Menorah?” This brand new Messianic Jew was very genuine about his question; yet, he felt embarrassed to ask! You yourself remember the first time when you started to follow the ways of Elohim as prescribed in Torah and desired to imitate Messiah Yeshua; it can be quite a challenging experience. I personally think that we all have those uncomfortable moments when we ask ourselves, “I hope I’m not asking a dumb question.” You should know that as a lot of Messianic Jews are asking me these questions and thinking within them, “I hope this isn’t dumb,” I’m saying to myself, “How can I answer you and you get a very delightful experience?” Hopefully, we all can enjoy a very wonderful conversation and a delightful time fellowshipping in Messiah’s love.
As a result of this petition, I would like to discuss three important features about the Menorah.
A Menorah is “a sacred candelabrum with seven branches used in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem” (OED 2013). For centuries, the children of Israel didn’t have the actual Menorah that once stood in the Temple; we only had this engraved image featured on the Arch of Titus, a 1st-century honorific arch located on the Via Sacra in Rome just to the south-east of the Roman Forum, which served as a constant reminder of what the Menorah looked like. As you can observe in this depiction that the Romans recorded, they usurped the Menorah from the Temple when Jerusalem was devastated in 70 CE.
How exactly did Menorah’s design come to be? We don’t know! We do have two very common legends that are constantly told. In one legend, Elohim tells Moses to create the Menorah but Moses didn’t know how. So, Elohim said, “Just throw the gold into the fire, and I’ll make the first Menorah myself. The rest, you can do.” According to another legend, Moses was simply shown a model of the Menorah in the fire when he was with the Heavenly Father on the top of Mount Sinai, and Moses recreated what he saw (reference Exodus 25:40). Concerning the Menorah’s design, we do know for sure that the instructions were given to build them (reference Exodus 25:31-40).
Even though the original Menorah was usurped from the Temple (and I imagine that the Roman Catholic Church do not wish to return our property), Jews didn’t lose hope in the future restoration of the Temple Mount (reference Isaiah 56:7). In fact, the Chanukah story of Judah Maccabee leading the revolt against foreign oppressors and reclaiming the Temple Mount was always the highlight of each Chanukah that we’ve celebrated for the past almost 2,000 years. Each year, we were reminded of Judah’s victory, and each year we looked forward to having a Menorah for the Temple Mount Service.
One last thing that we do know about the Menorah is this: “This is a highly detailed, involved and intricate undertaking” (Temple Institute 2013). Pertaining to the manner by which the Menorah was designed (reference Menachot 3, 7; Maimonides Laws of the Temple 3:2), we do know when the sages were incorrect. How? Well, when the Menorah was being reconstructed, several attempts were made to recreate the Menorah in the manner that the sages argued. Given that gold is a weak metal, the branches would flop open and disassemble. So after several attempts, Temple enthusiasts were able to reconstruct the Menorah in accordance to the biblical specifications laid out in Torah as well as in accordance to the archaeological evidence that were discovered. Thus, we now have a Menorah ready for Temple use in Israel.
We can go into the specific details as to the oil used and so forth, but I think that’s something that you can learn in time as you study the parasha portions; so, I’ll end with this.
For centuries, we just didn’t have a Menorah. We were once a people dispersed among the nations of the earth. After so many false prophecies and misrepresentations hundreds of years of severe persecution, we as a people are still here speaking our own native tongue about our Creator. So, each time you look at a Menorah, remember what the Heavenly Father has promised you as a member of the Israeli household, “you will be a light to guide the nations” (Isaiah 42:6); not the other way around as some allege.
What, then, does the Menorah mean to all the house of Israel? It means that we were called to make a difference in a very dark world.
© 2013 by Nehr HaOlam Publications
Winslow, New Jersey, USA
All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptures were taken from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
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