Monday, February 11, 2013


Exodus 25:1−27:19

The Menorah: Let Your Light Shine

The menorah teaches that each of us has a unique gift to contribute to the world.

Everyone knows that the principal symbol of Judaism is the six-pointed Star of David.

But did you know that the Magen David only became a Jewish symbol in the Middle Ages? Despite its prominence on the flag of Israel and kiddush cups, the Magen David is a rather late representative of Judaism and the Jewish People. For most of our history, and certainly in antiquity, the preeminent symbol of the Jewish religion was the Menorah, the seven-branched candlestick which was found first in the Tabernacle of Moses, and later in the Temple of King Solomon in Jerusalem.

First Mention of Menorah
That menorah is mentioned for the first time in today's Torah reading, when God tells Moses to "make a lampstand of pure gold...its base and its shaft, its cups, calyxes, and petals shall be of one piece. Six branches shall issue from its sides." In reading the description of the Menorah, the confusion is overwhelming--the details are so complex that it is easy to despair of ever visualizing it correctly.

That same confusion must have overwhelmed Moses as well. An ancient midrash, recorded in the Talmud as well, states that "three things presented difficulties to Moses, until the Holy Blessed One showed Moses with His finger:...[one was] the menorah, as it is written, 'and this was the work of the menorah.’" According to another ancient tradition, not God but the angel Gabriel drew a picture so that Moses could see the image that God was portraying in words.

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