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Recently I was zoche to visit Eretz Yisroel, and my family went on the Temple Institute (Mechon Hamikdash) tour, very interesting. They showed their beautiful menorah, which they said had been made according to halachic specifications and could be actually used when the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt, בב"א. I was very surprised when they said it weighed half a ton - as I know that the menorah must weigh a kikar (talent) of pure gold. Not clear how much that is, but something around 50 or 100 pounds (see Wikipedia, and Rashi's calculations at the beginning of Parshas Pikudei). Not even close.
So I went to their website, and they have an extensive description of the issues involved https://templeinstitute.org/history-holy-temple-menorah/. Kol hakavod for their clarity and transparency. What they said astonished me. Short version: It is hard or impossible to make a strong enough structure of pure gold, especially such a small amount as a kikar. Instead, we made a bronze menorah weighing half a ton. Then we took a single sheet of gold (mikshah) - a millimeter thick (!) - weighing a kikar, and wrapped it over the bronze support structure. That gold is the golden menorah; ignore the bronze underneath.
a) This seems like a cool trick, but I didn't see anyone mentioning this pshat in the Torah. It does not sound like the simple understanding of what Moshe Rabbeinu did (the Midrash mentions that he found it difficult to know how to make the menorah!)
b) The Rambam says (Beis Habechirah 3(4)) that when other metals are used for the menorah, it may be made hollow (חלולה). When made with gold, on the other hand, it sounds like "mikshah" excludes its being hollow; it must be made solid. I saw that the Likutei Halachos on Menachos 28b brings the example of the menorah made by the Chashmonaim when they reconquered: an iron structure coated with tin. You would not be allowed to do that with gold, and that is exactly what they did.
Comments?

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    Who says the menorah has to be made the same way as Moshe's? My matza doesn't look like Moshe's. Neither does my sukkah. Neither do my tefillin. – Heshy Nov 24 '20 at 15:51
  • Doesn't have to be the same. But it does imply to me that there may be some simpler way of doing it, if it was indeed done some other way for thousands of years until the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash. – MichoelR Nov 24 '20 at 16:07
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    Perhaps their menorah is considered to be a bronze menorah, and just ignore the gold on top. One kikar is for shtick. – Mordechai Nov 24 '20 at 20:46
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    I don't understand why the beginning of your comment doesn't contradict the end. Gold is the most malleable... there is no reason this would collapse... – MichoelR Nov 25 '20 at 1:14
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    Note that if made with just one kikar, the menorah would have been much thinner than the one currently on display. – MichoelR Nov 25 '20 at 2:24
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I looked at the website, and while I am sure the Temple Institute people mean well, they seem really eccentric. The claim that the menorah couldn't be made out of gold, because gold is a soft metal, seems silly. Just because gold is soft relative to other metals does not mean it can't be made into a menorah.

The Menorah had a lot of gold. According to the OU website:

The menorah was 1 kikar of gold. At 3,000 shekel per kikar, and 1/5 an ounce per shekel, that’s 1,500 ounces of gold.

Converted to cubic inches, that is 147.65

Divided by the eighteen tefachim, that is 83 1/3 ounces 8.2 in^3 and per tefach, or over 20 oz. and 2 in^3 per etzbah, or width of a finger. That seems like plenty to me.

In addition, Rashi says the Menorah was made with Hashem's assistance, so the whole discussion of how the Menorah was technically made is moot.

As to whether the Menorah could be hollow if it is made out of gold, the wording of Rambam is ambiguous. According to the commentary Maaseh Rokeach, this is a dispute between Rav Yosef Karo in Kesef Mishneh (who holds no) and the Mabit in Kiryas Sefer (who holds yes).

But the Menorah cannot be gold-plated, for the simple reason that the Torah clearly says that the Aron and other vessels were wood plated with gold. By implication, if the Menorah was gold plating, the verse would have said so.

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    I'm not exactly arguing, but "That seems like plenty to me." Yeah, but they tried to build it, you didn't. Gold is really massive. The gold is getting used for seven different branches of different lengths, at angles; something like 20 amos total length, maybe 1000 centimeters. 1.5 ounce per centimeter. Volume of an ounce of gold is around 1.6 ccs, so a couple of square centimeters cross-section? Regardless, it isn't clear to me that the arms would hold. And I didn't try it! – MichoelR Nov 26 '20 at 3:36
  • Thank you for the Mabit, that's cool. – MichoelR Nov 26 '20 at 3:37
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    "the whole discussion of how the Menorah was technically made is moot." There I don't agree. The menorah was remade at other times, including after the time of the Chashmonaim, according to that gemara. – MichoelR Nov 26 '20 at 3:38
  • "But the Menorah cannot be gold-plated" I assume that you mean, it cannot need to be gold-plated. It doesn't mean that what they did is posul, but it must mean that there is some other way to do it, the way it was originally. – MichoelR Nov 26 '20 at 3:42
  • Correction from above: according to the gemara's dimensions, and if the arms are diagonal, closer to 13 amos length, which lets the cross-section be a little thicker. – MichoelR Nov 26 '20 at 4:12

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