menorah
Why do we Light Up an Empty Room with the Menorah?

Why do we Light Up an Empty Room with the Menorah?

I often find myself walking around my house, turning off lights in empty rooms. Why waste electricity if there is no one there to benefit from it? Interestingly, a similar question arose thousands of years ago, in the Temple itself! In...

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The Message of the Eternal Flame

The Message of the Eternal Flame

When God instructs the Children of Israel to make the menorah, He tells them to gather oil "for kindling lamps regularly" (Exodus 27:20). Rashi explains that the light was to be lit all night, every night, though not necessarily during...

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The Many Uses of Olive Oil in Biblical Times

The Many Uses of Olive Oil in Biblical Times

The portion of Tetzaveh begins by telling the Children of Israel to bring pure olive oil for use in the Menorah in the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:20). For normal use, oil is extracted from olives by pressing, but the Torah specifies that in...

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A Table Fit for a King

A Table Fit for a King

When God commanded the Children of Israel to build a Tabernacle for him to dwell among them, he also commanded them to build furnishings. Perhaps the most intricate piece was the golden table, or shulchan, that held the 12 showbreads, and...

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Doughnuts, dreidels and potato pancakes

Doughnuts, dreidels and potato pancakes

Everyone knows that Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights celebrated by the lighting of candles. But there is so much more to the holiday that makes it an eight-day family event. Lighting the Menorah Lighting the nine-branched menorah is not...

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What happened to the Temple Menorah?

What happened to the Temple Menorah?

The Arch of Titus, constructed in 81 CE by Emperor Domitian to commemorate the victory over the Jewish rebellion in Judaea, stands on the Via Sacra in Rome to this day, bearing witness to the fact that the Romans carried away the golden...

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How to light the Hanukkah candles

How to light the Hanukkah candles

Hanukkah is the eight-day holiday celebrating the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple at the beginning of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE. The holiday begins on...

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The Portion of Beha’alotecha

The Portion of Beha’alotecha

This busy portion contains a number of legal and technical details, as well as stories. We are told of the Levites’ appointment as assistants to the priestly service, and the celebration of Passover in the desert after the exodus. The...

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The Portion of Emor

The Portion of Emor

The portion of Emor continues many of the same themes found thus far in the book of Leviticus. It expands upon the laws of the priest which set him apart from the rest of the community, as well as those that apply only to the High Priest....

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