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Wednesday
May302018

THE MENORA REMINDS US WE ARE A LIGHT UNTO NATIONS

Seeing the branches of the Menora depicted as semicircles should evoke a terrible cry, in addition to the factand this is the main pointthat the shape contradicts Rashi and Rambam, etc. It also intimates a kind of condoning, etc., G-d forbid, of the shape on the Arch of Titus, which was made to aggravate Jews and to denigrate them!

Translated by Boruch Merkur

10. […] According to the opinions of Rashi (the literal interpretation of the Torah) and Rambam, the Menora had straight, angled branches. Therefore when the Menora is depicted (to teach the shape of the Menora in the Mishkan and the Mikdash) it should follow this halachic view. (As stated above, the conclusion is that there are in fact no contradicting opinions on the matter.)

There are schools and learning centers whose journals and publications and the like represent the Menora with semicircular branches. But since the purpose of these illustrations is to portray the Menora in the Mishkan and the Mikdash, it is highly appropriate to correct the picture to show the branches’ straight diagonal shape. [See Footnote 44 in the original text regarding Chanuka menoros.]

11. Another point stems from the above:

It would seem that the common depiction of the Menora (with six semicircle branches) follows the shape of the Menora that non-Jews designed in Rome representing the Menora in the Triumphant Arch of Titus, may his name be blotted out!

When the wicked Titus destroyed the Beis HaMikdash, he ordered the vessels of the Mikdash to be plundered and transported to Rome. To “honor” this wicked person, they built a Triumphant Arch in Rome bearing his name: the Arch of Titus. Upon this gateway they illustrated how they carried the captured vessels of the Mikdash, among which was the Menora. On the Arch of Titus, the Menora has six semicircular branches.

The shape of the Menora on the Arch of Titus is, however, entirely inaccurate. [See Footnote 46 in the original, where the Rebbe discusses how, for example, the Menora’s legs at its base are omitted on the Arch.] Moreover, the work was intended to portray the dominion and mastery of Rome over the Jewish people, may G-d have mercy. In fact, they even inscribed there in several places the words, “Judea Capta – Yehuda (the Jewish people) Captured”). Indeed, there were times when, in order to belittle and humiliate them, Jews were forced to go to the Arch to see what is written and engraved there.

The depiction of the branches of the Menora in the shape of semicircles (as on the Arch of Titus) should therefore evoke a terrible cry, in addition to the fact – and this is the main point – that the shape contradicts Rashi and Rambam, etc. It also intimates a kind of condoning, etc., G-d forbid and rachmana litzlan, of the shape on the Arch of Titus, which was made to aggravate Jews and to denigrate them!

The image of the Menora must remind and elicit in Jews that their purpose is to be “a light of the nations” (Yeshaya 42:6, 49:6) – “[the Menora serves as] a testimony to all humanity that the Sh’china dwells among the Jewish people.” But the shape of the Menora made in this manner (with semicircular branches) brings out the exact opposite sentiment – how Rome conquered the Jews, rachmana litzlan!

12. May it be G-d’s will that very soon the true and complete Redemption will unfold, and we will have the Menora literally and completely in the Third Beis HaMikdash. Then everyone will see the true shape of the Menora.

Moshe and Aharon will be among those who return to the Holy Land in the Redemption, and we will see with our human eyes, “and our eyes will behold,” the fulfillment of the promise, “speak to Aharon … in your lighting the lamps,” lighting the Menora, in the simple, literal sense, speedily in our days, mamash.

(From the addresses of Shabbos Parshas Mattos-Massei and Shabbos Parshas D’varim Rosh Chodesh Elul 5742; Likkutei Sichos Vol 21, pg. 169-171)

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