Now came the next set of instructions. “Take another huge chunk of gold,” said HaShem, “and carve out for Me a golden Menorah with 7 straight branches.”
This Menorah in the Mishkan was not quite the same as the kind you light on Chanukah – the Chanukah Menorah has 8 lights while the Mishkan Menorah had only 7.
HaShem described exactly to Moshe exactly how He wanted it built:
“Decorate the branches of the Menorah with 3 shapes: 22 cups, 11 buttons, and 9 flowers. Set aside a bowl at the top of each branch to hold the oil and place a wick inside each bowl. Only the purest, clearest olive oil may be used for My precious Menorah.”
This was quite a challenge to accomplish. Usually, craftsmen first make the detailed, smaller pieces and then attach them to the main structure. In this instance, Moshe was commanded to carve all the cups, buttons and flowers from one single block of gold, a task difficult for even the most skilled expert!
On top of this Moshe was quite puzzled. He didn’t understand exactly how this special Menorah was to be built.
“I really wish I knew precisely how to build this Menorah. I’m a bit confused and I can’t afford to make one mistake… After all, it’s a Mitzvah from HaShem.”
You know the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so HaShem showed Moshe a Heavenly vision of this Menorah, made of fire.
Moshe began building the Menorah, but still, had a very difficult time. So HaShem told Moshe, “Throw the block of gold into a fire.” Moshe, of course did what he was told and POOF – out came a perfectly shaped Menorah – 7 branches decorated with 22 cups, 11 buttons, and 9 flowers!
Say the word, Menorah, and the first thing that comes to mind is Chanukah. But the Menorah is much more than a candelabra used for this eight-day holiday. It is a symbol of the Jewish people, from ancient times to modern days.
Consider this: On the 2,000-year-old Arch of Titus, which is a big stone arch built in honor of the Roman emperor Titus’s victory over the Jews, an engraving of a Menorah is clearly shown. You can travel today to Rome in Italy and see it for yourself. Yet, the Roman Empire is long gone – you won’t be seeing there a single Roman citizen, but has the Menorah disappeared? No! We, the Jewish nation, are alive and well. Now, who do you think are the true victors?
The Menorah also teaches us a timeless lesson: The light of the Menorah was not contained to the walls of the Mishkan and Beis HaMikdash – its rays shot out through the windows and lit up the outside.
So too, it is the task of our nation, the Jewish people, to be a shining light unto the nations, spreading the light of Torah and Mitzvos throughout the entire world.