Menorah is a candelabrum having seven branches that are symbolic of the seven days of creation. A menorah is regarded as the symbol of Judaism and used in ceremonies. A menorah is an important symbol representing Jewish faith and is often seen in Jewish synagogues. Menorah is also symbolic of the burning bush that was seen on Mount Sinai by Moses. Menorah remains the emblem of modern Israel today symbolizing the nation’s mission of being “a light unto the nations.”(Isaiah 42:6) According to the sages, Israel should attain its mission peacefully by setting the right example rather than using any violent methods of force.
A menorah is seven-branched candle holder with one holder typically higher than the rest. There is a mention of the menorah in the Exodus 25:31:-40, with a clear description on the construction of the menorah. The holder which is higher or different from the rest is termed as the shamash or head. The candle placed on this holder is used to light the candles placed on the other six branches of the menorah.
The lamp is an integral part of the synagogues and is referred to as the ner tamid or the eternal flame symbolizing the menorah. Menorah may also refer to a nine-branched candelabrum (Chanukkiah) used in Jewish rituals on Chanukkah. The nine branched menorah is made up of the shamash and eight holders representing each day of the Chanukkah.
The lights of a menorah can be ignited by placing candles or using oil and wicks. But the traditional menorah is generally fueled by oil, preferably olive oil and cotton wicks as they produce a smooth and steady flame. Sacred articles are always purchased with the utmost care and devotion. So buying a silver menorah always becomes a priority as a way to appease to God and His Commandments.
The kohanim( people chosen to perform rituals in the temple)cleaned the menorah every morning by replacing the wicks and pouring olive oil in the cups to be lighted every evening in the sanctuary. It is necessary to keep the menorah lighted for at least thirty minutes every evening and at least eighty-five minutes on Friday evening.
The ancient menorahs displayed in the old First and Second Temples typically had seven branches. After the ancient temples were destructed, it was decided not to rebuild anything used in those Temples. Hence the traditional seven-branched menorahs were never duplicated. New menorahs having six branches became popular and replaced the old menorahs. But in recent times the rabbis prefer the use of menorahs having seven branches. However they are not the same as the traditional menorahs, the principal difference being that the modern menorahs are electrified. The electric menorahs look good for display and are also a great means to keep alive the Chanukah miracle.