The Menorah
Parshat Terumah gives us a very detailed description of what the Menorah should look like. Is there any significance to all of the details- the seven lamps, the six branches, the three almond shaped cups on each branch etc?

 

Although we donít know Godís reason for all of these details, some will try to find allegorical interpretations while others will say that it is not even worth trying to guess.

 

Abravanel explains: I personally am convinced that it is pointless to look for significance in every detail of the Tabernacle or Templeís construction, be it as measurements, the flowers, the cups and other minutiae. They were merely necessary parts of the construction.

 

Abravanel does, however, explain the allegorical significance of the articles in the Mishkan: There are two kinds of reward: material- wealth and honor- corresponding to the table and showbread and the reward for wisdom and attaining greater spiritual heights- the Menorah symbolized this. The Lamp of the Lord is the soul of man. The seven lamps symbolize the seven degrees of wisdom to be found in the Divine law. All the lamps turned inwards to the middle one, towards the Holy of Holies symbolizing that true wisdom must harmonize with the fundamentals of the Torah, housed in the ark. The Menorah was made of pure gold implying that wisdom must not be tainted by alien ideas. The cups, knops and flowers symbolize the various sciences which branch out from each other. It was ďbeaten workĒ out of one piece, symbolizing that all the various types of sciences have one common source.

 

You could say that Abravanel believed in Torah UíMada, a term coined by Yeshiva University to mean that Torah and the sciences can coexist.

 

Rambam says that the Menorah was placed in front of the curtain to enhance the glory and splendor of the house. For an abode illuminated by a continual light concealed by a curtain, makes a deep psychological impact.

 

Rambam is not paying attention to the details but he is still teaching us what can be learned from the Menorah and curtain in a more general way.

 

Although we may never understand the details that went into making the Mishkan and even though we donít have the Beit HaMikdash or vessels today, as we hope and pray that the Third Beit HaMikdash will be rebuilt speedily in our day, the idea of the Menorah can teach us about spirituality and the importance of bringing light into the world.