Photo Credit: Wikimedia
Reconstruction of the menorah of the Temple in Jerusalem, created by the Temple Institute of Israel.

“… The menorah shall be made …” (Shemos 25:31)

Rashi explains that since Moshe had difficulty figuring out how to form the menorah, Hashem instructed Moshe to throw the gold into the fire “and it shall be made,” i.e. by itself.


The Chofetz Chaim notes that although Moshe understood how all the vessels of the Mishkan were to be made, he was completely baffled with the construction of the menorah, despite the fact that Hashem showed him its conception three times. It was then that Hashem commanded him to throw the gold into the fire and the menorah emerged completely formed.

Why did Moshe Rabbeinu have difficulty particularly with the menorah?

The Chofetz Chaim cites the Malbim and others who explain that in addition to their specific use in the service of Hashem, each of the vessels of the Mishkan alluded to lofty spiritual concepts. For instance, the aron symbolized the Divine wisdom which could only be achieved with prophecy. The shulchan with the lechem hapanim (showbread) alluded to the physical needs of man. The mizbei’ach (altar) is the liaison between Hashem and His nation. The menorah represented the eternity of the Jewish people who would continue to exist throughout their various exiles.

The Zohar tells us that Hashem commanded the angels to make a corresponding menorah in Heaven, and when the kohein would light the menorah below in the Bais HaMikdash the menorah in the upper spheres would be lit as well to illuminate the world for the Jewish nation.

Yet, when Moshe saw with Divine prophecy the long periods of darkness and persecution that the Jewish people would suffer throughout the world – the slavery, oppression, inquisitions, pogroms and holocausts – he was troubled that the Jews would despair of the final redemption. He could not understand how the menorah, a symbol of light and hope, could possibly be embraced in such overwhelming gloom of dam eish v’simros ashan – blood, fire and ash.

Therefore Hashem instructed Moshe to throw the gold into the fire and the menorah would miraculously form itself. In effect, Hashem let Moshe know that the existence of the Jewish people is beyond man’s comprehension. The Jewish nation would emerge from the adversity of fire, rising from its ashes to rebuild.

The Chofetz Chaim concludes that today it is incumbent upon all of us to light the menorah of Torah below so that the light of the menorah above shines brightly.

The great Klausenberger Rebbe offers a profound commentary on the mitzvah of the four species of Succos. He notes how no expense is spared before yom tov to fulfill the mitzvah properly. Yet, on motzoei yom tov the components are no longer treated with the same reverence. The lulav and hadassim are set aside to be burned with the chametz on Erev Pesach. The esrog becomes jelly preserves eaten on Tu B’Shvat. Only the aravah, which was also used on Hoshana Rabbah, and alludes to the least significant members of Klal Yisrael – those with no Torah or mitzvos – is placed on top of the aron kodesh in bais medrash where the sacred sifrei Torah are stored. Why does the aravah merit such an important place? Because, says the Klausenberger Rebbe, on Hoshana Rabbah the aravah is severely beaten, battered and disgraced, it is now elevated. Similarly, precisely because the Jewish people have suffered greatly through many challenging eras of persecution and torture, they will ultimately rise to greatness.

From time to time, I receive letters from readers of my column in The Jewish Press.

One loyal reader has been writing for the last two years. When I received his initial communication, I was shocked to see that it came from a state correctional facility and the individual was identified with a DIN (Department Identification Number).

The man was prompted to write in response to my request for yom tov funds for poor individuals and families in the Jewish community. He wrote that he had begun to read my column in prison, and his interest has been piqued to the point where he keeps a journal with notes and observations on my Torah thought of the week. He explained that he was not permitted to have cash in prison, but he did have postage stamps. He enclosed a few dollars’ worth “in the hope that this humble contribution can help. It is the best I can do right now.” He also asked if it would be proper for him to correspond with me every once in a while.

Indeed, he wrote every so often, and revealed that his childhood had been difficult, and he was trying to straighten out and become a better person. He had little exposure in his youth to authentic Jewish life, and he felt that the weekly inspiration of my “Pearls of Wisdom” was putting him in touch with his roots. It was obvious that he was slowly taking several steps towards an observant life.

In some letters, the young man would want to discuss different points in the article; at other times he would ask me about Judaism in general. In each letter he would thank me and The Jewish Press for “hooking him up” with the outside world.

One day I received an especially poignant letter from my prison correspondent. He had just learned about the concept of doing teshuva, and he had many questions. He wanted to know how one does teshuva and if, as a prisoner, could do teshuva. He wanted to know if one could do teshuva for upsetting his family, or disappointing his wife. After listing many other such queries, he concluded, “Please do not reply if there is no possibility of doing teshuva. I love Judaism so much that it would be too distressing for me to know that I would not be able to be an upstanding member of the Jewish people.”

“What a true chozer b’teshuva (repentant)! How many people could be so painfully honest and admit that they could not bear a negative response?” I thought to myself.

I immediately replied that complete teshuva is an option for everyone, including him. People experience highs and lows in life, and he had definitely been a victim of extenuating circumstances. I directed him to pesukim in Tanach and our sages concerning the transcendence of teshuva. I gave him the names of several individuals in Jewish history who could be considered egregious sinners, who were forgiven after they did teshuva. I cited the well-known Talmudic teaching (Sanhedrin 44a), “Even when a Jew has sinned, he is still a member of the Jewish people.”

It was a long while before I heard from him again, but when he finally wrote, he informed me that he had, in fact, undertaken his own program of repentance. He was looking forward to the day he was freed and would perhaps fulfill his dream of learning in a yeshiva.

This precious neshama has certainly endured his personal periods of darkness and challenges in life. I pray that he will soon experience physical and spiritual redemption, and merit to be a light unto others.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous article‘Someone’ Is Selling $ Billions to Boost the Shekel
Next articleThe Gift Of Giving
Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, a prominent rav and Torah personality, is a daily radio commentator who has authored over a dozen books, and a renowned speaker recognized for his exceptional ability to captivate and inspire audiences worldwide.