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What is a Menorah?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein


Library » Holidays » Chanukah | Subscribe | What is RSS?


The literal translation of Menorah is Candelabra.

The most common Menorah is the one with nine branches/candle-holders, used for the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah: eight for the eight days of Chanukah, and one for the Shamash. (The Shamash candle should be slightly higher or lower than the other candles, which should all be in a straight line).

In the Tabernacle in the desert and in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem there was a Seven-branch Menorah. The design for that Menorah was transmitted to Moses by G-d,1 and built specifically to be lit in the sanctuary of those edifices. The Chanukah Menorah is not really designed to replicate the Menorah in the Temple, rather to facilitate the celebration of an eight day miracle.

You may also occasionally see a five-branched Menorah, especially at the cantor's stand in a synagogue. This is because it is customary that when the services are being lead by a mourner, five candles should be lit in memory of the deceased.2


  • 1. Exodus 25:31-40
  • 2. A soul is compared to a candle. It is customary to light a Yahrtzeit candle in memory of a loved one. The soul is actually divided into five parts, and during prayer - when the soul is accentuated - we light five candles.


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Holidays » Chanukah » About

An eight day mid-winter holiday marking: 1) The miraculous defeat of the mighty Syrian-Greek armies by the undermanned Maccabis in the year 140 BCE. 2) Upon their victory, the oil in the Menorah, sufficient fuel for one night only, burned for eight days and nights.
[Hebrew pronunciation: Moshe] Greatest prophet to ever live. Led the Jews out of Egyptian bondage amidst awesome miracles; brought down the Tablets from Mount Sinai; and transmitted to us word-for-word the Torah he heard from G-d's mouth. Died in the year 1272 BCE.
Candelabra. Usually a reference to the nine-branched candelabra kindled on the holiday of Chanukah.
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Mobile sanctuary which traveled with the Jews in the desert, containing the Ark with the Tablets, and the sacrificial altars. When the Jews entered Israel, it was erected in the city of Shiloh where it remained for more than 300 years. It was buried when the permanent Holy Temple was erected in Jerusalem.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.