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Where were they and What were they Used for?

Parsha Halacha – Parshat Devarim/Shabbat Chazon
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The first verse of Chumash Devarim contains 22 words.

The holy sefarim points out[1] that the words which begin each of the Chumashim correspond to significant numbers relating to the Menorah in the Mishkan and Bait HaMikdash. Specifically,
·        The first verse in the book of Bereishit (Genesis) contains seven words corresponding to the seven branches of the Menorah.
·        The first verse of the book of Shemot (Exodus) has 11 words corresponding to the number of knobs on the Menorah.
·        The first verse of the book of Vayikra (Leviticus) contains 9 words corresponding to the number of flowers on the Menorah.
·        The first verse of the book of Bamidbar (Numbers) contains 17 words. When including the verse itself as another number, the total is 18, corresponding to the 18-handbreadth height of the Menorah.[2] (This inclusive method of Gematriyah is called im hakollel.)
·        The first verse of Devarim (Deuteronomy) contains 22 words corresponding to the number of cups on the Menorah. (See Exodus 25:31-40 for the details of the Menorah.)
The total of these numbers is 49. If one includes the Menorah as a whole, the total is 50, corresponding to the 50 gates of understanding (Binah). This is why Moshe had difficulty comprehending how to build the Menorah since the 50th gate of understanding is very deep. The number 50 also corresponds to the 50th day after the Exodus, the day on which the Torah was given.[3]
These numbers are alluded in the verse in Tehillim (119:13), “The beginning of your words shine,” i.e., the beginnings of the Chumashim correspond to the shining Menorah.[4]

Seven Which are Five

In a similar vein the Chida explains[5] that the manner in which the Menorah was cleaned every morning corresponds to the number of Chumashim. They would first clean five of the candle- holders and then later the other two. (We recite this every morning in the paragraph called Abaye haya mesader.) The cleaning of the first five corresponds to the five Chumashim while the total number of branches – seven – corresponds to the opinion that there are seven Chumashim. (According to some,[6] the Chumash of Bamidbar consists of three Chumashim: one until Vayehi Binso’a (Numbers 10:35 – 36), the section of Vayehi Binso’a, and the rest of the Bamidbar.)

Torah Brightens the World

Thus, the Menorah corresponds to the Torah. The fact that the Menorah brightened the Bait HaMikdash by day and by night symbolizes that the Torah is the light and inspiration to the entire world at all times. (The Bait HaMikdash is a microcosm of the entire world).[7]

The Miracle of the Menorah

Since the Menorah represents the Torah (as explained above), when the Maccabees overthrew the Greeks who were trying to nullify the Torah, it was appropriate that the miracle of the Menorah symbolized their victory.[8]
The rest of this article will discuss the extra Menorahs and golden tables which King Solomon placed in the first Bait HaMikdash. This discussion is in honor of Shabbat Chazon when, according to a tradition of Rabbi Levy Yitzchak of Berdichov,[9] every Jew is shown an image of the third Bait HaMikdash, may it speedily be built. (See below that the Third Bait haMikdash may also have these extra furnishings.) It is also to fulfill the instruction of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that one should study the details about the building of the Bait Hamikdash during this time of year in order to hasten its rebuilding.

King Solomon’s Menorahs

In the Mishkan there was only one Menorah and only one golden table for showbread. But when King Solomon built the first Bait HaMikdash, he made ten of each, as the verse says[10] “Solomon made all the vessels… And the candlesticks, five on the right (side), and five on the left, before the Sanctuary, of pure gold; and the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs, of gold.” Elsewhere it says,[11] “And he made ten tables and placed them in the Sanctuary, five on the right and five on the left.”
Although it was forbidden to arbitrarily add to the Bait HaMikdash, everything King Solomon did was based on Divine instruction, as the verse says,[12] “All was in writing, from the hand of the L-rd, which He gave me (King Solomon) to understand.”
The way this instruction reached King Solomon is explained in the Midrash:

The Tradition of the Bait HaMikdash

The Midrash says[13] that G-d taught Moshe all of the laws of the building of the Bait HaMikdash on Mount Sinai while Moshe was standing on the mountain as the verse says (Deut. 5:27), “Now you stand with Me.” As per G-d’s instruction, Moshe transcribed these laws in a scroll which was passed down throughout the generations from one leader to the next. It was always given over by the previous leader just before he passed away and was always given while standing.
·        Before his passing, Moshe gave this scroll to Yehoshua while standing as the verse says (Deut 31:14), “Call Yehoshua and stand in the Tent of Meeting, and I will instruct him.”
·        Before Yehoshua passed away he gave it to the elders while standing as the verse says (Yehoshua 24:1), “And Yehoshua… called the elders of Israel, and they stood before G-d.”
·        The elders arose and gave it to the prophets while standing, as the verse says (Shmuel I 12:7), “And now, stand and I shall reason with you.”[14]
·        The prophets (i.e., Shmuel, the prophet) arose and gave it over to David while standing. (This is the oral tradition although there is no verse to prove it. See Zevachim 54b).
·        Finally, David arose and gave it over to his son Solomon while standing, as the verse says (Tehillim 41:11), “But You, O L-rd, be gracious to me and raiseme up.”[15]
Rabbi Yehoshua Yosef Feinberg explains[16] that since the building of the Bait HaMikdash was based on deep Kabbalistic secrets, it had to be taught while standing (out of respect for the deep level of the teachings). In addition, due to the deep mystical nature of these secrets, they were only revealed when absolutely necessary, that is, before the passing of each leader.


As such, King Solomon must have received instruction via the scroll that he was supposed to add to the number of Menorahs and golden tables. In addition, this change is alluded to in the one of the words concerning the Menorah (Exodus 25:31) that has an extra yud (תֵּיעָשֶׂה הַמְּנוֹרָה) which is the numerical value of ten – hinting to the fact that another ten menorahs will be made.[17]
The Talmud explains[18] that there were ten extra Menorahs and ten extratables, five of each on the right side of the original Menorah and table of Moshe and five on the left side of the Menorah and table. The Talmud derives this from the fact that the verse cannot mean that there were five of each on the right side of the Sanctuary and five of each on the left side (for a total of 10) since the Menorah was supposed to only be in the south (right) side and the table was supposed to only be in the north (left) side. Rather, when it says “right,” it means to the right of the original, and when it says “left,” it means to the left of the original.

Decorative or Functional?

The Talmud[19] has two opinions as to whether or not the extra Menorahs were actually kindled and whether any showbread was placed on the extra tables. Some say that the extra menorahs and tables were only decorative and were never used. This is in keeping with the fact that one may not add to the mitzvot. Since there is only a command to kindle one Menorah and to place bread on one table, the others (which were added based on the scroll as per above) were only for decorative purposes.
Another opinion is that all of the Menorahs and tables were used. Some of the commentaries say[20] that even this opinion holds that only one Menorah was kindled per day (so as not to add to the Mitzvah), but that they would rotate and light each Menorah on a different day. Similarly, they would rotate and place the bread on different tables each week.
Others say[21] that they would light every Menorah but would start by kindling the Menorah of Moshe and would then light the other Menorahs. Similarly, they would first place the showbread on Moshe’s table and then on the other one.
In the words of the Midrash,[22] “Why did Solomon make 10 tables? In order to merit a blessing for the crops (and as per Divine instruction of course). Moshe made only one table (by Divine instruction) because in the desert they had no crops (and didn’t need a blessing for them). He also made 10 kiyors (washing basins), five to the right of Moshe’s kiyor and five to the left. He also made 10 Menorahs corresponding to the Ten Commandments. And even though he made 10 tables, he (the Kohen) would first arrange the bread on the table of Moshe and then on the other tables. The 70 lamps of the 10 Menorahs (each of which had seven lamps) represented the 70 nations. And lighting the Menorahs helped the Jews overcome their enemies. Unfortunately, after the destruction (and the ceasing of the lighting of the Menorah) these nations have become stronger. And even though he made 10 Menorahs, he would light Moshe’s first and only afterwards the other ones.”
Although it is forbidden to add to the Torah, since the scroll and oral tradition taught that Solomon was enjoined to add these menorahs and tables, it was self-understood that they were supposed to use them. This is considered part of the oral tradition.

In the Second Bait HaMikdash

Some say that in the Second Bait HaMikdash, they only had one Menorah and only one golden table as they had in the Mishkan.[23]
Others say that the Second Bait HaMikdash also contained extra Menorahs and golden tables.[24]
According to the second opinion, it would seem that the same will be true of the Third Bait HaMikdash.
May it be rebuilt speedily in our days!
[1] Akeidat Yitzchak (Parshat Terumah pg. 160b), Vilna Ga’on in Aderet Eliyahu (beginning of Parshat Devarim). Yalkut Reuveni (beginning of the Parshat Beha’alotecha) in the name of the Arizal.
[2] The Akeidat Yitzchak explains this number differently. He writes that the Menorah was only slightly taller than 17 handbreadths. So, when the sages (in the Talmud Menachot) say it was 18 handbreadths tall they mean 17 and a fraction. Whereas the words in the beginning of Chumash Bamidbar correspond to the complete handbreadths.
[3] Yalkut Chadash quoted in Otzar Efrayim by Rabbi Efrayim Fishel Stein, beginning of Parshat Beha’alotecha.
[4] Midrash Pli’ah cited in the notes on Agra DePirka ot 172
[5] Midbar Kedeimot ot 34
[6] Shabbat 115b
[7] Torah Ha’Olah of the Rama, beginning of Chapter 16
[8] Agra DePirka, ibid
[9] See Likutei Sichot vol. 29 pages 18 – 25
[10] Kings I 7:48-49
[11] Divrei HaYamim II 4:8
[12] Divrei HaYamim I 28:19
[13] Agadat Shmuel, 15
[14] The Ezrat Kohanim (Mevo HaMikdash Sha’ar David) points out that this verse is referring to the prophet Shmuel speaking to the people rather than the elders speaking to the prophets. See there for his resolution of this question.
[15] The Ezrat Kohanim points out that King David was sick towards the end of his life, but that in the merit of teaching his son these secrets, he recovered (temporarily) and was able to stand.
[16] In Ezrat Kohanim ibid
[17] Ezrat Kohanim ibid
[18] Menachot 98b
[19] Ibid 99a
[20] Rashi and Keren Orah on the Talmud
[21] Shiltei Giborim and Midrash Tadshei, quoted in the Yalkut Biurim on the Metivta Shas. See also Radak on the verse who says that this is the simple understanding of the verse.
[22] Yalkut Shimoni on Kings I, Remez 185
[23] See Nachalat Shimon on Kings I, vol. 1, Siman 24 that the Mareh Panim on Shekalim chapter 6 writes that the 10 Menorahs were only temporary.
[24] See Tiferet Yisrael on Middot cited in Nachalat Shimon ibid and Tosfot Rid on Yoma 51a
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom UMevorach!
May we celebrate Tisha Be’Av with the dedication of the Third Bait HaMikdash!

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