Choosing the Perfect Chanukah Menorah: Style and Fashion
From MazorGuide to Jewish Holidays
By: Rivka C. Berman
Of all the rituals Jews keep, Chanukah menorah lighting is the only time a ritual is performed using a near-replica of an item once found in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Unlike the Temple menorah that had seven branches, the Chanukah menorah has nine branches (eight plus the service candle).
The Original Menorah in the Temple
The original menorah had its branches and decorative flowers, knobs, and cups were sculpted or cast from one solid piece of gold. It was to be a solid, unchanging foundation for flames that flicker and sway. Some commentators interpret this as an allusion to the solid foundation of knowledge and faith that anchors the surges and retreats of a spiritual journey.
Rules to Remember
Lights kindled on Chanukah need not take the classical Temple form, but a few rules and details determine the difference between what counts as a Chanukiyah (kosher menorah) and what is merely a nice set of candlesticks.
· The eight wicks or candles must appear to be in a straight line neither protruding nor receding. At a glance, an onlooker should be able to tell which night of Chanukah it is by noting the number of flames.
· Each flame should be far enough from the other that the flames do not blend together. Care should be taken that the flames are not close enough to cause neighboring candles to burn faster.
· Menorahs of silver and gold and wood and pottery, highly artistic, ornate, or plain with simple lines. All are appropriate. Indeed, the choice of a Chanukah Menorah is an opportunity for expression of personal taste and experience. Finding the perfect Menorah enhances the joy and the brilliance.
The Perfect Menorah
And what is the perfect Menorah? The perfect Menorah is the one that makes the holiday more treasured and heart-warming. A treasured family heirloom, a wedding gift, an anniversary present, a creation of your child in a school project. All perfect. Rejoice!
How to Chanukah, by Sarah Mazor and Yael Rosenberg, includes a section that expands on the Chanukah Candle Lighting ceremony and the blessings recited.
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