I fully understand the rationale for an eight branched menorah. Considering the Nes, etc. And I am aware that the Talmud states that it is prohibited to use a seven-lamp menorah outside of the Temple. The Hanukkah menorah therefore has eight main branches. I get that.
But the seven-branched menorah was one of the most prized and central objects of the Bais HaMikdash. You ask a Jewish kid to draw a menorah and I am fully confident that most will NOT draw one with seven branches. (This may not be the case with Israeli kids being that their State Seal has a seven-branched candelabrum) I feel we lost something significant in that what has commonly passed down to the generations in terms of memory of a central ritual object has become confused. When I think of this it is troubling. A menorah to them means one with eight branches and a shamas.
I know it is a bit chutzpah-dic to state that the Mishnaic Rabbis possibly made an error here in stipulating an eight branch menorah for the chag. I understand that there might have been messianic overtones to the choice of eight - but still! But it does seem to me to be really problematic with regard to the sacredness of the seven-branched menorah. I am not trying to be disrespectful. I am just shocked. Everything that I have read regarding the bais hamikdash in the oral Torah seems to completely honor and respect the sacredness of the objects used in the Bais HaMikdosh. Can someone please help me with this.

  • nothing to do with menora
    – kouty
    Dec 10, 2020 at 5:01
  • When people learn about the ceilim in the mishkan they don't go to the chanuka sugya. They go to those parshios in vayikra.. also some say the reason why chanuka is 8 days is that they shouldn't copy the menora in the mishkan which is asur to do so.. also why are you blaming the sages for the kids innproper chinuch.
    – Shlomy
    Dec 10, 2020 at 5:15
  • 2
    The mishnaic sages did not stipulate an eight-branched menorah for the chag
    – Joel K
    Dec 10, 2020 at 5:19
  • 2
    A rant indeed. But as @JoelK points out, you only need to light 8 lights on Chanuka (last night, mehadrin min ha'mehadrin), you don't need a menorah.
    – The GRAPKE
    Dec 10, 2020 at 5:27
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/q/4493/759 judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22693/759 This appears to be a linguistic concern more than anything.
    – Double AA
    Dec 10, 2020 at 14:55

4 Answers 4


Firstly, as Rabbi Y. A. Abraham pointed out, the Rabbi never stipulated using a Menora/Chanukiah.

Actually, since the original institution was to light outside, in the middle of winter, it's fair to assume that most people used little clay lamps, as Wikipedia (in Hebrew) informs us and even provides a picture.

Old Teiman Menora

The first record of a Chanukia-Menora is from the 16th century (ibid). So it's not the Rabbis that you want to blame, but the artists.

Secondly, you assume there's some "value" to being able to describe the vessels in the Mikdash and not getting them confused. I'm not sure where this idea comes from.

Actually, the Menora in the Mikdash did not have to be in the shape of the famous Menora with the balls, buttons and flowers unless it was made of pure gold. It could be simple 7-branched metal candelabra, as the Rambam says here:

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁעֲשָׂאוּהָ זָהָב. אֲבָל שְׁאָר מִינֵי מַתָּכוֹת אֵין עוֹשִׂין בָּהּ גְּבִיעִים כַּפְתּוֹרִים וּפְרָחִים.‏

I'm also sure that anybody who had a solid Jewish education (i.e. being taught the weekly Torah portion for 8 - 10 years) would be able to differentiate between a Menora and a Chanukia without hesitation.

  • Thank you for your response, Danny , but when you say "I'm also sure that anybody who had a solid Jewish education (i.e. being taught the weekly Torah portion for 8 - 10 years) would be able to differentiate between a Menora and a Chanukia without hesitation.' what percentage of the current jewish population fits into that category ? that is the issue. Dec 10, 2020 at 15:10
  • 3
    @ChaninaYaacov Don't they have bigger problems than confusing which type of menorah they associate with the ambiguous term "menorah"? Why is this issue such a big deal?
    – Double AA
    Dec 10, 2020 at 15:59

It's never chutzpah to ask on a Rabbinic idea, it's only a problem when we disrespect them.

The menorah of the Temple did not have a Shammas higher in the middle, nor must ours.

We just need 8 wicks, can have 8 cups or ancient lamps, just 8 fires burning, 1 until 8 to remember the miracle.

Even if one wants to use the Candelabra shape from our Temple, there wasn't a worry that Jews would forget Menorah of the Temple.

In fact, it can be seen almost as an extension: making the menorah of the Temple +1 the miracle = 8

What did you mean by Messianic?

  • Rabbi Abraham , Thank you so much for your thoughtful answer. By Messianic I simply meant that "7" is associated with Kedushah . And from Jewish mystical sources , Moshiach is often associated with one level beyond that - 8. Dec 10, 2020 at 8:09
  • When you say that there was not a worry that Jews would forget the menorah of the Temple. I would argue that for a large segment of the jewish population that actually has happened! If you ask a Non Orthodox Jew to close there eyes and think of a menorah and describe it to you it will in all probability be one with 8 branches and a shamas. To assume that all Jews are familiar with the kelim of the Bais HaMikdosh from Vayikra is not a valid assumption for me. And this is the source of my concern . Dec 10, 2020 at 8:10
  • I hear you :) I guess like other's are commenting, we are not supposed to put a 7 Branch menorah in shul etc. I agree it is sad that people don't know the difference. It became Menorah, it had been called Ner Chanukah, some call it a Chanukia now. I find it cute/interesting, we call the Mezuzah/Scroll after the doorpost we put it on, yet Challah-bread after the Mitzvah of the Challah part we are to separate for the Cohen. Some names and associations just stuck. Dec 11, 2020 at 20:44

No they did not err at all.

Aside for the fact that Chanukkah is eight days so the Menorah has eight branches, the Gemara (Menchos 28B see also SA YD 141:8) says that you are NOT ALLOWED to make a seven branch Menorah. (because the you are not allowed to replicate some of the items used in the Beis Hamikdash) Not even if it is made out different metal than the ones used in the Beis Hamikdash or wood.

The prohibition of making a seven branch menorah outside of the Beis Hamikdash is D'oryasa (bibical)


As noted by others a menorah is not required in fact the Be'er Heitiv does not require a vessel by candles and holds one can stick candles onto a ledge (wall) without it being in a receptacle(see Avnei Nezer though). In addition, mikar hadin all one needs is 1 light a night as well.


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