Menora Meaning

From: Glenda

Dear Rabbi,

Could you please comment on the relationship between the Menora of the Temple and the menora of Chanuka? I know there are differences, but I can’t help from feeling there are similarities as well.

Dear Glenda,

One of the reasons that the Chanuka menora is so beloved is that it is a memorial and symbol of the Menora in the Holy Temple. Even though it has eight lights instead of seven, of course, it recalls the miracle associated with the lighting of the Menora during the re-inauguration of the Temple service after having been defiled by the ancient Greeks. In fact, we currently have no physical memorial of any other service in the Sanctuary.

Our Sages taught (Nu. Raba 15:5) that the Lights of the Menora in the Sanctuary outweighed in importance all the sacrificial offerings. What is the greatness of these lights? They are a testimonial to the People of Israel that all the light and rejoicing that are theirs, come to them only from the light shed upon them by G‑d. And even if this light seems small, and the light enjoyed by the nations seems exceedingly large, Israel nevertheless desires only the light shed upon them by G‑d, and no other light.

The eyes of Israel are therefore lifted to the Holy Temple, which emits light to illuminate their world. Interestingly, the windows of the Temple were made “wide from without and narrow from within” so that light from the Menora would radiate out from the Sanctuary, and not into the Sanctuary from outside. The Talmud thereby teaches (Menachot 86b) that the Sanctuary was not in need of light coming from without, but rather the whole world was illuminated by the light that emanates from it.

If so, the Menora was not intended to cast light within the Temple, but rather to radiate light into the lives and souls of the Jewish People. One of the ways in which the Menora is considered greater than the sacrifices is that it continues to shine into our lives through the Chanuka lights even after the destruction of the Temple when we no longer have the Temple service. Therefore, as in times of old, we are to focus our attention and concentrate on the small but increasing light emanating from the Chanuka menora which serves as a window through which we are given a glimpse of the light that G‑d radiates upon us and which will ultimately shine with the brilliance of our Final Redemption.

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