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Beit Habechirah - Chapter 3

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Beit Habechirah - Chapter 3

1

The design of the Menorah is explicitly [stated] in the Torah.1The [central] shaft of the Menorah had four goblets, two bulbs, and two flowers,2 [Exodus 25:34] states: "The Menorah shall have four embossed goblets, together with its bulbs and its flowers."3 A third flower was close to the Menorah's base, as [Numbers 8:4] states: "to its base, to its flower."4

א

הַמְּנּוֹרָה מְפֹרֶשֶׁת צוּרָתָהּ בַּתּוֹרָה. וְאַרְבָּעָה גְּבִיעִים וּשְׁנֵי כַּפְתּוֹרִים וּשְׁנֵי פְּרָחִים הָיוּ בִּקְנֵה הַמְּנוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כה לד) (שמות לז כ) "וּבַמְּנֹרָה אַרְבָּעָה גְבִעִים מְשֻׁקָּדִים כַּפְתֹּרֶיהָ וּפְרָחֶיהָ". וְעוֹד פֶּרַח שְׁלִישִׁי הָיָה סָמוּךְ לִירֵכָהּ שֶׁל מְנוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ח ד) "עַד יְרֵכָהּ עַד פִּרְחָהּ":

2

The [Menorah] had three feet.5

Six [diagonal]6 branches extended from three other bulbs in the [central] shaft of the Menorah, three [branches] on one side and three on the other.

Each branch had three goblets, a bulb, and a flower. They were all embossed7 by beating them [in a manner that their surface] resembled [tiny] almonds.8

ב

וְשָׁלֹשׁ רַגְלַיִם הָיוּ לָהּ. וּשְׁלֹשָׁה כַּפְתּוֹרִים אֲחֵרִים הָיוּ בִּקְנֵה הַמְּנוֹרָה שֶׁמֵּהֶן יוֹצְאִים שֵׁשֶׁת הַקָּנִים. שְׁלֹשָׁה מִצַּד זֶה וּשְׁלֹשָׁה מִצַּד זֶה. וּבְכָל קָנֶה וְקָנֶה מֵהֶן שְׁלֹשָׁה גְּבִיעִים וְכַפְתּוֹר וָפֶרַח. וְהַכּל מְשֻׁקָּדִים כְּמוֹ שְׁקֵדִים בַּעֲשִׂיָּתָן:

3

Thus, the total number of goblets was 22;9 of flowers, nine;10 of bulbs, eleven.11 [The absence of] any of these ornaments could render the others invalid.12 Even if one of the 42 [ornaments] was lacking, all [the others] would not be valid.

ג

נִמְצְאוּ כָּל הַגְּבִיעִים שְׁנַיִם וְעֶשְׂרִים. וְהַפְּרָחִים תִּשְׁעָה. וְהַכַּפְתּוֹרִים אַחַד עָשָׂר. וְכֻלָּן מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה וַאֲפִלּוּ חָסֵר אֶחָד מִן הַשְּׁנַיִם וְאַרְבָּעִים מְעַכֵּב אֶת כֻּלָּן:

4

This applies when the [Menorah] is made of gold.13 [However, if it is made] of other metals,14 it should not have goblets, bulbs, and flowers.15

Also, when the Menorah is made out of gold, its total [weight] including its lamps shall be one talent.16 It must be fashioned entirely by hammering out one block [of gold].17

[In contrast, should it be made from] other metals, there is no need to be precise about its weight.18 Also, it may be hollow.19

ד

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁעֲשָׂאוּהָ זָהָב. אֲבָל שְׁאָר מִינֵי מַתָּכוֹת אֵין עוֹשִׂין בָּהּ גְּבִיעִים כַּפְתּוֹרִים וּפְרָחִים. וְכֵן מְנוֹרָה הַבָּאָה זָהָב תִּהְיֶה כֻּלָּהּ כִּכָּר עִם נֵרוֹתֶיהָ וְתִהְיֶה כֻּלָּהּ מִקְשָׁה מִן הָעֲשָׁתוֹת. וְשֶׁל שְׁאָר מִינֵי מַתָּכוֹת אֵין מַקְפִּידִין עַל מִשְׁקָלָהּ. וְאִם הָיְתָה חֲלוּלָה כְּשֵׁרָה:

5

[The Menorah] should never be made of fragments of broken vessels, whether it was made of gold or of other metals.20

ה

וְאֵין עוֹשִׂין אוֹתָהּ לְעוֹלָם מִן הַגְּרוּטָאוֹת בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה שֶׁל זָהָב בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה שֶׁל שְׁאָר מִינֵי מַתָּכוֹת:

6

[Though the Menorah's] tongs,21 ash-scoops,22 and oil containers [shall also be made out of pure gold], they are not included in the talent [mentioned above. This decision was made] because, in connection with the Menorah, [Exodus 25:31] states: "pure gold" and afterwards, [ibid.:38) repeats: "Its wick-tongs and ash-scoops shall be made of pure gold."23

The verse does not state: "its lamps shall be of pure gold," for the lamps24 were permanently fixed in the Menorah, and were included in the talent [of gold from which the Menorah was fashioned].25

ו

הַמֶּלְקָחַיִם וְהַמַּחְתּוֹת וּכְלֵי הַשֶּׁמֶן אֵינָן מִכְּלַל הַכִּכָּר שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר בַּמְּנוֹרָה (שמות כה לא) (שמות לז יז) "זָהָב טָהוֹר" וְחָזַר וְאָמַר וּמַלְקָחֶיהָ וּמַחְתֹּתֶיהָ זָהָב טָהוֹר. וְלֹא נֶאֱמַר נֵרוֹתֶיהָ זָהָב טָהוֹר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהַנֵּרוֹת קְבוּעִין בַּמְּנוֹרָה וְהֵם מִכְּלַל הַכִּכָּר:

7

The [absence of one of the] seven branches of the Menorah invalidates the others.26 The [absence of one of the] seven lamps invalidates the others. This applies whether [the Menorah was made] of gold or of other metals.27

All the lamps were [permanently] affixed to the branches.28

ז

שִׁבְעַת קְנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה. וְשִׁבְעַת נֵרוֹתֶיהָ מְעַכְּבִין זֶה אֶת זֶה בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה שֶׁל זָהָב בֵּין שֶׁהָיְתָה שֶׁל שְׁאָר מִינֵי מַתָּכוֹת. וְכָל הַנֵּרוֹת קְבוּעִים בַּקָּנִים:

8

The six lamps affixed in the six branches extending out from the Menorah all faced the central lamp which was above the [central] shaft of the Menorah.29 The central lamp faced the Holy of Holies and was called the western lamp.30

ח

שֵׁשֶׁת הַנֵּרוֹת הַקְּבוּעִים בְּשֵׁשֶׁת הַקָּנִים הַיּוֹצְאִים מִן הַמְּנוֹרָה כֻּלָּן פְּנֵיהֶם לַנֵּר הָאֶמְצָעִי שֶׁעַל קְנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה וְזֶה הַנֵּר הָאֶמְצָעִי פָּנָיו כְּנֶגֶד קֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים וְהוּא הַנִּקְרָא נֵר מַעֲרָבִי:

9

The goblets resembled Alexandrine chalices. They had wide mouths and narrow bases.31 The bulbs were like the apples of Keros which are slightly elongated, [resembling] eggs with both ends rounded.32 The flowers resemble the flowers of a column. They are shaped like bowls, with the edges bent over outward.33

ט

הַגְּבִיעִים דּוֹמִין לְכוֹסוֹת אֲלֶכְּסַנְדְּרִיאָה שֶׁפִּיהֶן רָחָב וְשׁוּלֵיהֶן קָצָר. וְהַכַּפְתּוֹרִים כְּמִין תַּפּוּחִים כְּרוּתִיִּים שֶׁהֵן אֲרֻכִּין מְעַט כְּבֵיצָה שֶׁשְּׁנֵי רָאשֶׁיהָ כַּדִּין. וְהַפְּרָחִים כְּמוֹ פִּרְחֵי הָעַמּוּדִים שֶׁהֵן כְּמִין קְעָרָה וּשְׂפָתָהּ כְּפוּלָה לַחוּץ:

10

The Menorah was eighteen handbreadths high:34

Its feet, [base,] and [bottommost] flower were three handbreadths high,35

There were two empty handbreadths,

The next handbreadth included a goblet, a bulb, and a flower,

Two empty handbreadths [followed],

A handbreadth with a bulb and two branches extending outward from it, one to one side and one to the other, extending outward and ascending until reaching the full height of the Menorah,36

An empty handbreadth,

A handbreadth with a bulb and two branches extending outward from it, one to one side and one to the other, extending outward and ascending until they reached the full height of the Menorah,

An empty handbreadth,

A handbreadth with a bulb and two branches extending outward from it, one to one side and one to the other, extending outward and ascending, until they reached the full height of the Menorah,

and two empty handbreadths

[Thus,] three handbreadths remained, with three goblets, a bulb, and a flower.37

י

גֹּבַהּ הַמְּנוֹרָה הָיָה שְׁמוֹנָה עָשָׂר טֶפַח. הָרַגְלַיִם וְהַפֶּרַח שְׁלֹשָׁה טְפָחִים. וּשְׁנֵי טְפָחִים חָלָק. וְטֶפַח שֶׁבּוֹ גָּבִיעַ כַּפְתּוֹר וָפֶרַח. וּטְפָחַיִם חָלָק. וְטֶפַח כַּפְתּוֹר וּשְׁנֵי קָנִים יוֹצְאִין מִמֶּנּוּ אֶחָד הֵילָךְ וְאֶחָד הֵילָךְ וְנִמְשָׁכִים וְעוֹלִין כְּנֶגֶד גֹּבַהּ הַמְּנוֹרָה. וְטֶפַח חָלָק. וְטֶפַח כַּפְתּוֹר וּשְׁנֵי קָנִים יוֹצְאִים מִמֶּנּוּ אֶחָד הֵילָךְ וְאֶחָד הֵילָךְ וְנִמְשָׁכִין וְעוֹלִין כְּנֶגֶד גֹּבַהּ הַמְּנוֹרָה. וְטֶפַח חָלָק. וְטֶפַח כַּפְתּוֹר וּשְׁנֵי קָנִים יוֹצְאִים מִמֶּנּוּ אֶחָד הֵילָךְ וְאֶחָד הֵילָךְ וְנִמְשָׁכִין וְעוֹלִין כְּנֶגֶד גֹּבַהּ הַמְּנוֹרָה. וּטְפָחַיִם חָלָק. נִשְׁתַּיְּרוּ שְׁלֹשָׁה טְפָחִים שֶׁבָּהֶן שְׁלֹשָׁה גְּבִיעִים כַּפְתּוֹר וָפֶרַח:

11

A stone with three steps was [placed] before the Menorah.38 The priest stood on it39 and kindled the lamps.40 [Also,] he placed the containers of oil, the tongs, and the ash-scoops upon it while kindling it.

יא

וְאֶבֶן הָיְתָה לִפְנֵי הַמְּנוֹרָה וּבָהּ שָׁלֹשׁ מַעֲלוֹת שֶׁעָלֶיהָ כֹּהֵן עוֹמֵד וּמֵיטִיב אֶת הַנֵּרוֹת וּמַנִּיחַ עָלֶיהָ כְּלֵי שַׁמְנָהּ וּמַלְקָחֶיהָ וּמַחְתּוֹתֶיהָ בִּשְׁעַת הֲטָבָה:

12

The Table [for the Showbread] was twelve handbreadths long and six handbreadths wide.41 Its length was positioned in parallel with the length of the Sanctuary42 and its width was positioned in parallel with the width of the Sanctuary.43

Similarly, the length and width of all the articles in the Sanctuary except for the Ark paralleled the length and width of the Sanctuary. The length of the Ark was placed to the width of the Sanctuary.44

The lamps of the Menorah were also positioned in parallel with the width of the Temple, from north to south.45

יב

הַשֻּׁלְחָן הָיָה אָרְכּוֹ שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר טֶפַח וְרָחְבּוֹ שִׁשָּׁה טְפָחִים. וְהָיָה מֻנָּח אָרְכּוֹ לְאֹרֶךְ הַבַּיִת וְרָחְבּוֹ לְרֹחַב הַבַּיִת. וְכֵן שְׁאָר כָּל הַכֵּלִים שֶׁבַּמִּקְדָּשׁ אָרְכָּן לְאָרְכּוֹ שֶׁל בַּיִת וְרָחְבָּן לְרֹחַב הַבַּיִת חוּץ מִן הָאָרוֹן שֶׁהָיָה אָרְכּוֹ לְרֹחַב הַבַּיִת. וְכֵן נֵרוֹת הַמְּנוֹרָה כְּנֶגֶד רֹחַב הַבַּיִת בֵּין הַצָּפוֹן וּבֵין הַדָּרוֹם:

13

The Table46 had four side frames of gold which were Y-shaped at their heads.47 They supported the two arrangements of the showbread,48 two for each arrangement. The Torah49 calls them "its kesot."50

יג

אַרְבָּעָה סְנִיפִין שֶׁל זָהָב הָיוּ לַשֻּׁלְחָן מְפֻצָּלִין בְּרָאשֵׁיהֶן שֶׁהָיוּ סוֹמְכִין בָּהֶן שְׁתֵּי הַמַּעֲרָכוֹת שֶׁל לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים. שְׁנַיִם מִסֵּדֶר זֶה. וּשְׁנַיִם מִסֵּדֶר זֶה. וְהֵם הַנֶּאֱמָרִים בַּתּוֹרָה (שמות כה כט) "וּקְשׂוֹתָיו":

14

There were 28 rods of gold. Each resembled half of a hollow reed.51 Fourteen [were used] for one arrangement and fourteen for the other arrangement.52 [The Torah]53 calls them "its minakiot."

There were two incense bowls. The frankincense was placed inside them on the Table, on the side of the arrangements [of Showbread].54 [The Torah]55 calls them "its kapot."

The molds used to make the Showbread56 are called57 "its ke'arot."

יד

וּשְׁמוֹנָה וְעֶשְׂרִים קָנִים שֶׁל זָהָב כָּל אֶחָד מֵהֶן כַּחֲצִי קָנֶה חָלוּל הָיוּ לוֹ. אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר לְסֵדֶר זֶה וְאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר לְסֵדֶר זֶה. וְהֵם הַנִּקְרָאִים (שמות כה כט) "מְנַקִּיּוֹתָיו". וּשְׁנֵי הַבְּזִיכִין שֶׁמַּנִּיחִין בָּהֶן הַלְּבוֹנָה עַל הַשֻּׁלְחָן בְּצַד הַמַּעֲרָכוֹת הֵן הַנִּקְרָאִין (שמות כה כט) "כַּפּוֹתָיו". וְהַדְּפוּסִין שֶׁעוֹשִׂין בָּהֶם לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים הֵם הַנִּקְרָאִים (שמות כה כט) "קְעָרוֹתָיו":

15

The 28 rods mentioned above [were used as follows]: The first loaf was placed on the Table itself.58 Three rods were placed between the first and the second loaves. Similarly, three rods were placed between each [of the following] loaves. Between the fifth and the sixth loaf, there were only two rods, for another loaf is not placed upon the sixth.59 Thus, each row [of loaves] required fourteen rods.60

טו

אֵלּוּ הָאַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר קָנִים נוֹתֵן הַחַלָּה הָרִאשׁוֹנָה עַל עַצְמוֹ שֶׁל שֻׁלְחָן וְנוֹתֵן בֵּין רִאשׁוֹנָה וּשְׁנִיָּה שְׁלֹשָׁה קָנִים. וְכֵן בֵּין כָּל חַלָּה וְחַלָּה שְׁלֹשָׁה קָנִים. וּבֵין שִׁשִּׁית וַחֲמִישִׁית שְׁנֵי קָנִים בִּלְבַד לְפִי שֶׁאֵין עַל הַשִּׁשִּׁית אַחֶרֶת. נִמְצְאוּ אַרְבָּעָה עָשָׂר בְּכָל מַעֲרָכָה וּמַעֲרָכָה:

16

There were two tables in the Entrance Hall, near the entrance to the Temple building.61 One was made of marble.62 The Showbread was placed upon it before it was brought in.63 The other was made of gold. The bread was placed upon it when it was brought out.64 [The rationale for the use of different substances is that] with regard to holy matters, one must always ascend, and may not descend.65

טז

וּשְׁנֵי שֻׁלְחָנוֹת הָיוּ בָּאוּלָם מִבִּפְנִים עַל פֶּתַח הַבַּיִת. אֶחָד שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ נוֹתְנִין עָלָיו לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים בִּכְנִיסָתוֹ. וְאֶחָד שֶׁל זָהָב נוֹתְנִין עָלָיו לֶחֶם בִּיצִיאָתוֹ. שֶׁמַּעֲלִין בַּקֹּדֶשׁ וְלֹא מוֹרִידִין:

17

The incense altar66 was one cubit by one cubit square.67 It was placed in the Sanctuary, exactly [midway] between north and south,68 between the Table and the Menorah, towards the outside. These three were all placed beyond the first third of the Temple building, in front of the Parochet, which divided the Sanctuary from the Holy of Holies.69

יז

מִזְבַּח הַקְּטֹרֶת הָיָה מְרֻבָּע אַמָּה עַל אַמָּה. וְהוּא נָתוּן בַּהֵיכָל מְכֻוָּן בֵּין הַצָּפוֹן לַדָּרוֹם מָשׁוּךְ בֵּין הַשֻּׁלְחָן וְהַמְּנוֹרָה לַחוּץ. וּשְׁלָשְׁתָּן הָיוּ מֻנָּחִין מִשְּׁלִישׁ הַהֵיכָל וְלִפְנִים כְּנֶגֶד הַפָּרֹכֶת הַמַּבְדִּיל בֵּין הַקֹּדֶשׁ וּבֵין קֹדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים:

18

The washbasin70 had twelve taps,71 so that all the priests who were involved in offering the daily sacrifice72 could sanctify [their hands and feet] at one time.73

A mechanism was made so that it could be filled with water at all times. [The mechanism itself] was not sacred, and thus, the water remaining in it did not become invalidated [for future use] because the night passed. [This was necessary] because the washbasin was a sacred vessel and sanctified [its contents].74 Anything which is sanctified by a sacred vessel becomes invalidated [for future use] after the night passes.75

יח

הַכִּיּוֹר הָיוּ לוֹ שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר דָּד כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ כָּל הַכֹּהֲנִים הָעוֹסְקִים בַּתָּמִיד מְקַדְּשִׁים מִמֶּנּוּ כְּאֶחָד. וּמוּכְנִי עָשׂוּ לוֹ שֶׁיִּהְיוּ בָּהּ הַמַּיִם תָּמִיד. וְהִיא חֹל כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיוּ הַמַּיִם שֶׁבָּהּ נִפְסָלִין בְּלִינָה שֶׁהַכִּיּוֹר מִכְּלֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ וּמְקַדֵּשׁ וְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁיִּתְקַדֵּשׁ בִּכְלִי קֹדֶשׁ אִם לָן נִפְסַל:

Test Yourself on This Chapter

Footnotes
1.

See Exodus 25:31-40. See also Menachot 28b for a description of the Menorah.

2.

See Halachah 9 for a definition of the terms "goblets, bulbs, and flowers." The position of the ornaments in the Menorah's shaft is described in Halachah 10.

3.

Since the Torah refers to the plural form for these ornaments, yet it does not specify a number, two bulbs and two flowers are required.

4.

Although this flower was not mentioned in the description of the Menorah's construction in Exodus, the Menachot, loc. cit. and all the commentaries include it in their design.

5.

The Torah does not mention feet in its description of the Menorah's construction. Their presence is recorded in the Talmud (Menachot, loc. cit.), but no specific number of feet is mentioned. Nevertheless, all major commentaries have described the Menorah as having three feet. It must be noted that Josephus' description of the Menorah and the depiction of the Menorah on the Arch of Titus both lack feet. However, there are other inconsistencies in those sources.

6.

The Rambam implies that the branches of the Menorah extended diagonally from its central shaft. He depicts the Menorah's branches in this way in the drawings he added to his commentary on the Mishnah. See Rav Kapach's edition.

Similarly, the Rambam's son, Rav Avraham, writes in his commentary on the Torah (Exodus 25:32): "The six branches of the Menorah extended upward as straight lines, as depicted by my father, of blessed memory, and not as depicted by others."

Other commentaries, including Rashi (Exodus 25:32) agree with the Rambam on this matter. It is thus difficult to comprehend why most popular portrayals of the Menorah show its branches as semicircles. That form was, indeed, used on the Arch of Titus, but, as mentioned above, there were other imprecisions in that monument. Furthermore, there is no reason to favor the portrayal of the Menorah made by a Gentile to celebrate Jerusalem's downfall over the description offered by our Torah leaders.

7.

In Hebrew, the verse requiring embossment (ibid.:34) reads: "The Menorah had four goblets embossed with bulbs and flowers." Yoma 52a lists five verses in the Torah for which the Sages were unsure of the proper interpretation. This is one of them. The Sages did not know whether the adjective "embossed" described the goblets mentioned before it or the bulbs and flowers mentioned afterwards.

Because of this quandary, the Rambam decided that all three ornaments were to be embossed. Nothing would be lost by employing this technique to fashion certain ornaments, even though the Torah did not require them to be made in this manner. However, if one ornament was not embossed, a direct command of the Torah might not have been fulfilled (Kessef Mishneh, Rav Yosef Corcus).

8.

In his commentary to the Mishnah (Menachot, op. cit.), the Rambam writes: "The word meshukadim ("embossed") means 'a craft of almonds' (shikeidim). This technique is popular among coppersmiths. They beat a sheet with a hammer until its [surface appears to be] covered with almonds."

The accompanying diagram is a copy of the depiction of the Menorah by the Rambam which accompanies his Commentary to the Mishnah (loc. cit.).

9.

Three on each branch, bringing the total to 18, and four on the central shaft. Rabbenu Bachai (Exodus 25:31) notes that the number of goblets equals the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

10.

One on each branch and three on the central shaft.

11.

One on each branch, three on the central shaft from which the branches extended outward, and two on the middle portion of the central shaft.

12.

Menachot, ibid., explains that since each ornament is mentioned in the Torah, the Menorah is not considered complete without them.

13.

Menachot 28a explains Exodus 25:31: "You shall make a Menorah of pure gold ...its goblets, its bulbs, and its flowers," as follows: "When you make a Menorah of gold, then you shall make its goblets, bulbs, and flowers."

14.

See Chapter 1, Halachah 19 and the commentary, which explains that if the Jewish people are poor, the Menorah and the other vessels of the Sanctuary need not be made of gold. Indeed, when the Maccabees rededicated the Temple, they made the Menorah of iron, coated with tin.

15.

The Mishneh LiMelech explains that the Rambam writes: "[Should it be made from] other metals, there is no need to be precise about the weight [of the Menorah]." However, regarding the ornaments, the Rambam specifically states that "we should not make goblets, bulbs, or flowers." That statement implies that not only are these ornaments not required if the Menorah is made of other metals, but that it is prohibited to add them.

16.

The Torah (Exodus 25:39) specifically states: "He shall make it have a talent of pure gold with all its vessels."

A talent, kikar in Hebrew, was equal to 3000 shekels, or approximately 68.5 kilograms (153.5 pounds) in modern measure.

The "lamps" mentioned by the Rambam are discussed in Halachah 6, which also explains the meaning of the term "vessels" in this verse.

17.

Exodus 25:36 states: "Their bulbs and branches must be made from it. They shall all be hammered out of one piece of pure gold."

18.

Its weight may equal more or less than a talent, as explained above.

19.

The Kessef Mishneh explains that when the Menorah is made of other metals, it need not be fashioned by beating out one block of metal, as is required when it is made of gold. 16The Mishneh Limelech explains that even if the Menorah is made of other metals, it is preferable that it be beaten out of one solid block of metal. Otherwise, it is only acceptable after the fact.

20.

When the Menorah was made of gold, it was not acceptable if it was fashioned in this manner. However, the Mishneh Limelech indicate that if the Menorah was made of other metals, after the fact, it is acceptable if assembled from fragments even though it is not desirable to do so as an initial preference.

21.

Tweezers to adjust and insert the wicks into the lamps. See Rashi, Exodus 25:38. Nachmanides interprets the Hebrew, Melkachayim (tongs), mentioned in the above verse, as "wick-holders" and explains that they were a permanent fixture of the Menorah.

22.

Small scoops to remove the ashes from the lamps. See Rashi, loc. cit. Nachmanides differs and defines the Hebrew Machtot as ash-catchers, maintaining that they were permanently fixed in the Menorah.

23.

The Rambam feels it necessary to elaborate in this instance, because a superficial reading of the Torah's verses might create a different impression. The Torah states (ibid.:38-39): "Its wick-tongs and ash-scoops shall be made of pure gold. He shall make it with a talent of pure gold; all these vessels."

The Hebrew word keilim, translated as "vessels," may also be translated as "utensils." Thus, one might conclude that the Menorah's utensils must also be fashioned by hammering out the same block of gold and hence, are to be permanent parts of the Menorah. Indeed, Nachmanides appears to have understood the meaning of the verses in that manner. However, Menachot 88b explains that here the term keilim refers only to the lamps, and not to the other utensils.

24.

The receptacles in which the oil and wicks were placed.

25.

Menachot, op. cit. records that this statement was the subject of a debate among the Sages. Some maintained that the lamps were separate fixtures which could be removed from the Menorah when necessary.

26.

Exodus 25:32 states, "Six branches extend from its sides." The Menorah's central shaft became the seventh branch. If one branch was missing, the Menorah is considered to be lacking the essential form prescribed by the Torah. Therefore, it is invalidated.

27.

In contrast with the goblets, bulbs, and flowers in Halachah 4.

28.

The Rambam ruled that the lamps were an integral part of the Menorah. Thus, a unique process was employed in their kindling. It was deemed disrespectful to kindle the Menorah from fire that was not sacred. The lamp of the central shaft was to be lit only from the fire of the Altar. All other lamps would be kindled from it or from each other. Since the lamps themselves were permanently affixed in the Menorah, the priests kindled them by extending their wicks with the tweezers until they reached a lamp that was burning. They would then light the wicks and return them to their own lamps. (Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 3:13-14).

It was necessary that every lamp be on a separate branch. If two lamps were made on the same branch, the Menorah was invalid.

29.

Numbers 8:2 commands: "When you kindle the lamps, the seven lamps shall shine towards the center of the Menorah."

Rav Yehudah HaChassid explained that according to the Rambam, the lamps themselves were fashioned so that the wicks would face in that direction. The side of the lamps facing the center shaft slanted inward. The diagrams drawn by the Rambam published in Rav Kapach's edition verify this opinion.

30.

This lamp was not positioned any further westward than the others. Nevertheless, it was given that name because it faced the Holy of Holies, which was situated in the west. The Rambam's decision follows the opinion of Rabbi Eliezar ben Shimon, who maintains that the Menorah's lamps spread across the width of the Sanctuary. Accordingly, there is no one lamp whose position clearly identified it as "the western lamp."

Menachot also mentions that Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi did not accept this opinion and maintained that the Menorah was positioned along the length of the Sanctuary, from east to west. Thus, there was one lamp that was "westernmost."

Halachah is usually based on Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi's opinion. Nevertheless, the Rambam favored Rabbi Eliezer's opinion, because there is a verse from the Torah that appears to support it. Leviticus 24:3 states: "Aharon shall prepare [the lights] continuously before the Lord," implying that before kindling the Menorah, it was necessary to prepare the wick to point "before the Lord" (Kessef Mishneh). This difference of opinion was preserved over the generations and many later authorities accepted the view that the lamps of the Menorah extended from east to west.

Shabbat 22a relates that the western lamp was "testimony to the entire world that the Shechinah rests in Israel." Each day, the western lamp was the first lamp kindled. Exactly the same measure of oil was placed in it as in the other lamps, yet it was always the last to burn out. Nevertheless, after the spiritual level of the Jewish people declined, this miracle did not always occur (Yoma 39a).

31.

Rav Kapach's publication of the Rambam's drawing of the Menorah shows the goblets in an inverted position. Note also the drawing accompanying Halachah 2.

Rabbenu Bachai (Exodus 25:31) explains the symbolism of the inverted position. A goblet serves two functions: it enables the collection of liquids, and offers the opportunity of pouring the liquids where desired. Thus, the goblets are symbolic of the Heavenly spheres, which receive influence from Heavenly sources and convey it to our lowly world.

The main purpose of the Menorah was to shed light on the world. This intent was expressed in the design of the Temple itself. Though generally, windows are built slanting inward, King Solomon's Temple windows slanted outwards (I Kings 6:4), so that the Menorah's light would spread to the world at large.

Similarly, the inverted position of the goblets in the Menorah emphasizes that the Menorah was intended to disseminate spiritual influence throughout our world. See Likkutei Sichot, Vol. 21, p. 164.

32.

In his commentary to the Mishnah (Menachot, loc. cit.), the Rambam also emphasize that the bulbs were not entirely round.

Rabbenu Bachai explained that the bulbs symbolized boundless spiritual pleasure.

33.

Rabbenu Bachai explains that the flowers represent the world's potential for growth and development.

34.

This entire Halachah is a direct quote from Menachot 28b.

Eighteen handbreadths equals between 4.5 and six feet depending on the different conversions to modern measurements.

35.

Tosefot, Menachot, op. cit., questions why all three ornaments were crowded into a handbreadth while generally, the bulbs themselves were a handbreadth in length.

36.

In his Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam states that all the bulbs were of equal measure. If so, Tosefot's question mentioned above becomes even more difficult. A possible solution is offered by the Tzurat HaBayit, which explains that the branches did not extend from the bulbs themselves, but from the Menorah's central shaft. Thus, the length of the bulb and the branches, and similarly, the bulb, goblet, and flower, could both be one handbreath. However, as mentioned above, the Rambam's diagram of the Menorah depicts the branches as extending out from the bulbs.

See Rashi (Menachot 28b which states that in this handbreadth, the goblet, flower, and bulbs projected from different sides of the Menorah.

37.

One might ask: Why does the Rambam omit mention of the Menorah's lamps? Although his source is the Talmud, it is possible to explain that this Talmudic passage follows the opinion that the lamps could be removed from the Menorah. However, as mentioned in Halachah 6, the Rambam follows the interpretation that the lamps were an integral part of the Menorah's structure. Therefore, they should be mentioned.

38.

The Sifri notes the relationship between the word used in the command to kindle the Menorah (Numbers 8:2), he'alah, and the Hebrew word for steps, ma'aleh, and comments: "Make steps with which to light the Menorah."

In his commentary to Tamid 3:9, Rav Ovadiah of Bartinura explained that three steps were constructed because on three occasions the Torah refers to the kindling of the Menorah in a similar manner: in the verse cited above, in the following verse (ibid.:3), and in Exodus 27:20.

39.

The Menorah was eighteen handbreadths (approximately 5 ft.) high. Thus for an average person to have easy access to the lamps, he would have to stand on a raised platform.

40.

In Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 3:16-17, the Rambam relates that, in the morning, the priest would not light all of the Menorah lamps at once. He entered with a kuz - according to the Har HaMoriah, a large vessel containing the oil containers, the tongs, and the ash scoops. He then lit five candles and left the Sanctuary, placing the kuz on the second step of the stone. Afterwards, he returned to light the two remaining candles and remove the kuz.

41.

The Torah commands (Exodus 25:23): "Make a table... two cubits long and one cubit wide." As mentioned above, in the commentary to Chapter 2, Halachah 6, the Rambam follows Rabbi Meir's opinion, that a cubit was six handbreadths in measure.

42.

I.e., from east to west.

43.

From north to south. See Menachot 96a.

44.

Thus, the staves of the ark bulged out from the curtain dividing the Holy of Holies from the Sanctuary (Yoma 54a).

45.

As mentioned in Halachah 8, this matter was a subject of debate among the Sages of the Mishnah. The Ra'avad notes the differing opinions in his commentary.

The Nodah BiYhudah (Orach Chayim, Responsum 122) notes that Menachot derives its knowledge of the position of the Showbread Table from the position of the Menorah, and that they were placed in parallel. On that basis, he questions the Rambam's statements that they were positioned perpendicular to each other. He explained that the Talmud's statement was made only in the preliminary stages of debate, and according to the final opinion, there is no contradiction with the Rambam's decision.

Note the accompanying diagram which was based on the Rambam's drawings in his commentary on the Mishnah, Menachot 11:6.

46.

The design of the Table described by the Rambam differs greatly from popularly accepted diagrams, usually based on the text, Ma'aseh Choshev. In order to clarify the Rambam's opinion, this and the following two Halachot will be explained in brief and a more general explanation will be provided later.

47.

This Halachah is quoted from Menachot 11, Mishnah 6. The Hebrew word translated as "Y-shaped" used by the Rambam and the Mishnah is mifutzalim, which means split or forked. Our description is based on the diagrams drawn by the Rambam himself which accompany Rav Kapach's edition of his commentary to the Mishnah. Note the drawing accompanying this Halachah.

48.

The Torah declares (Leviticus 24:5-6): "You shall take fine flour and bake twelve loaves from it.... Place them in two rows, six per row, on the pure Table before the Lord." According to the Rambam, the loaves were arranged on the Table itself. As their name implies, the side frames were placed at its sides for support.

50.

Rashi (Menachot 97a) explains that this name relates to the word kesheh, meaning hard, or firm. The sideframes supported the showbreads, prevented them from crumbling, and allowed them to become firm.

51.

Like half of a bamboo shoot.

52.

As explained in the following Halachah.

53.

Exodus, loc. cit.

54.

This command to bring the Showbread continues (Leviticus 24:7): "Place pure frankincense near each arrangement."

In Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 5:9, the Rambam explains that two handbreadths remained between the two arrangements of showbread for the two incense bowls. Other opinions state that the incense bowls were placed on top of the bread, one in each row.

55.

This command to bring the Showbread continues (Leviticus 24:7): "Place pure frankincense near each arrangement."

In Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 5:9, the Rambam explains that two handbreadths remained between the two arrangements of showbread for the two incense bowls. Other opinions state that the incense bowls were placed on top of the bread, one in each row.

56.

Note Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 5:8 which relates that there were three molds. One was used to prepare the dough, one to bake the loaves, and one in which they were left to cool. According to the Rambam, all three were made of gold. Other opinions, including Rashi, disagree, and maintain that the loaves were baked in an iron mold.

57.

This command to bring the Showbread continues (Leviticus 24:7): "Place pure frankincense near each arrangement."

In Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 5:9, the Rambam explains that two handbreadths remained between the two arrangements of showbread for the two incense bowls. Other opinions state that the incense bowls were placed on top of the bread, one in each row.

58.

As explained above, the purpose of the rods was to allow air to pass between the loaves and to preserve their freshness. Thus, one might suggest that rods be placed under the bottom most loaves for that same reason. However, the surface of the Table itself was gold, and thus remained cool. Hence, no other measures were necessary.

59.

Since these rods had to support a lesser weight, their number could be reduced.

60.

As indicated above, the Rambam's concept of the Table differs from that of the other commentaries. The major differences refer to the definition of the Kasot, the side frames. Rashi, Tosafot and the Rashbam each have slightly different concept of the sideframes. However, all three explanations depict the sideframes as sturdy structures which supported the rods. The latter, in turn, supported the weight of the loaves. Thus, these commentaries interpret the word mifutzalin used by the Mishnah to mean that they possess grooves or holes. The rods were inserted through these grooves or holes, and were able to support the loaves.

As explained in brief in the above Halachot, and at length in Chapter 5 of Rambam's Hilchot Temidim U'Musafim, the twelve Showbreads were stacked on top of each other, their weight being supported only by the Table itself and the rods. According to his conception, the side frames were thin Y-shaped rods which were intended to keep the arrangements straight and to support them from the sides. However, they did not bear any of the weight of the loaves.

There are two advantages to the explanation offered by the Rambam:

a) According to the Rambam, the term mifultzalin used by the Mishnah is interpreted more precisely.

b) According to the other explanations, it is difficult to comprehend why only two rods were used for the uppermost row. Since the loaves did not rest upon each other and their weight was borne by the side frames as well, there is no difference between the top row and the others?

In contrast, according to the Rambam, there is no difficulty. Since the rods bore the weight of the loaves themselves, and the uppermost rods had to support a lesser weight, their number could be reduced.

See the accompanying diagram which depicts the Table according to the Rambam's description.

61.

Generally, these tables are depicted as being positioned apart from each other, one at either side of the entrance.

62.

The Jerusalem Talmud (Shekalim 6:3) asks why this table was not made of silver. It explains that since the loaves were placed on the Table while they were hot, their heat would raise the temperature of the silver. This could cause mold to grow on the loaves.

63.

The Showbread had to be baked before the Sabbath. However, it was not placed on the Table in the Sanctuary until the Sabbath morning sacrifices were offered. In the interim, the loaves were placed on this marble table (Tosefta, Menachot, Chap. 11).

64.

The loaves from the previous week were removed from the Table in the Sanctuary and placed on this table while the new loaves were being placed on the Table and the frankincense was being offered. Afterwards, the loaves were divided among the priests. If Yom Kippur fell on a Sabbath, the loaves remained on this table for the entire day (Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 5:4-5).

65.

Since the Table upon which the Showbread had been placed was covered with gold, it was not proper to place them on a less precious surface afterwards.

This principle applies to other matters as well. For example, on the basis of this principle, the School of Hillel explains that each night, a new candle should be added to the Chanukah lamps to increase the light connected with the festival.

66.

This altar was also referred to as the "golden altar," because it was coated with an outer surface of gold. It was also called "the inner altar," because it was placed inside the Temple building. This contrasted with the Altar for the sacrifices, which was placed in the Temple Courtyard.

67.

Exodus 30:1-3 commands: "Make an altar out of acacia wood to burn incense. It shall be square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, including its horns. Cover it with a layer of pure gold."

68.

Rav Kapach's edition of the Rambam's commentary on the Mishnah (Menachot 11:6) indicates that the Rambam originally wrote that the incense altar was positioned slightly to the north. He later amended his text to read as above.

69.

See Exodus 26:33, and Halachah 2 of the following chapter.

70.

The command to construct a washbasin and for the priests to sanctify their hands and feet before participating in the Temple services is found in Exodus 30:18-9.

71.

Originally, the washbasin had only two taps. Afterwards, one of the High Priests, ben Katin, fashioned twelve taps for it. He also constructed the mechanism described later in this Halachah (Yoma 37a).

72.

See Hilchot Temidim UMusafim 4:6.

73.

As mentioned above, before participating in any element of the Temple service, the priests had to sanctify their hands and feet. See Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 5:1.

74.

Once a substance was placed in a sacred vessel, it could no longer be used for mundane purposes.

75.

Once an article is placed in a sacred vessel, it must be used in the Temple service on that day. If the night passes, it becomes invalid for future use and must be disposed of.

Since the washbasin was sacred, all its water became sanctified and could only be used for holy purposes. Were the water to remain in the washbasin overnight, it would become invalid for future use. The Sages felt that it was not fitting to discard a large amount of water every day after it had become sacred, and they tried to devise means of avoiding that difficulty.

Yoma 37a and Zevachim 20a explain that each night the washbasin was lowered into a natural reservoir of water by a pulley-operated crane. Tamid 3:8, explains that the crane was very noisy and it was possible to hear the cranking of its gears as far away as Jericho. Its water was not invalid overnight, and the water it contained when it was lifted up again in the morning, could be used for the Temple service.

Based on the sections of the Talmud mentioned above, the Ra'avad questions the Rambam's description of the washbasin and its mechanism. With the statement, "[The mechanism] was not sacred and thus, the water remaining in it did not become invalid," the Rambam seems to imply that the mechanism itself contained water, but the water did not become disqualified, because the mechanism, unlike the washbasin itself, was not a sacred vessel. This would seem to contradict the Talmudic passages which describe the mechanism as a crane.

This difficulty is further magnified by the fact that in Hilchot Bi'at HaMikdash 5:14, the Rambam himself writes that each night, the washbasin was submerged in a natural reservoir of water and raised again the next morning.

The Kessef Mishneh explains the Rambam's statements as follows: These Talmudic passages use the expression muchani to refer to the mechanism. Though that expression can be rendered as a pulley-operated crane, as above, it can also be explained as a circular reservoir for water, into which the washbasin was placed. This explanation resolves the contradiction between the Rambam and the Talmud. However, the Kessef Mishneh is also puzzled by the seeming contradiction in the Rambam's own words.

The Tosefot Yom Tov (Tamid 1:4) quotes the Rambam's commentary on the Mishnah (Tamid 3:8). It explains that the "mechanism" was a vessel of water which would be raised each morning and submerged each evening by a pulley-operated crane. It would be placed over the washbasin to keep it filled with water.

The Tzurat Habayit maintains that throughout the ages, various techniques were devised to solve the problem of the water which remained overnight in the washbasin. The Mishnah (Eruvin 10:14) relates that pulley-operated cranes were used to draw water during the days of the prophets. Thus, it was likely that a similar technique was employed for the washbasin. Since ben Katin lived in the later years of the Second Temple, it is likely to suppose that his mechanism was more sophisticated.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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