What Does the Hanukkah Menorah Symbolize?
The Hanukkah Menorah symbolizes the miracle that occurred when the Maccabees re-sanctified the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. After taking back control of the Holy Temple, the Maccabees discovered only one kosher jug of olive oil that could be used for lighting the Temple's Menorah. Even though this was only meant to last one day, a miracle occurred and it lasted for eight days, until more kosher olive oil could be produced. In celebration of this miracle, we light a Hanukkah Menorah for eight nights.
How is the Menorah Used During Hanukkah?
Every night of Hanukkah (there are eight in total), a candle is lit as a celebration of the miracle that God performed for the Maccabees in their struggle against the Greek Army. It is considered an act of beautification to add an extra candle every night (i.e. light one candle the first night, two candles the second night, three candles the third night) until your Menorah is gleaming with eight candles on the last night. Alongside the Hanukkah candles, there is a separate candle known as the shamash (it usually appears on a different level from the other candles) that is used to light the Hanukkah candles every night.
What is the Difference Between a Hanukkiah and a Menorah?
On Hanukkah, do we celebrate the miraculous victory of the Maccabees over the Greek Army by lighting a Menorah or a Hanukkiah? Is there a difference between these two items? In Hebrew, "menorah" refers to a lamp. Traditionally, the term has been used to describe the seven-branched golden candelabra that stood in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was continuously lit every day. This is the same candelabra that was sanctified by the Maccabees after the rededication of the Temple. Since the word "menorah" simply means lamp, many refer to the nine-branched candelabra that we light on Hanukkah as a menorah. However, since the Hanukkah Menorah has nine branches (instead of the traditional seven) and does not contain the same holiness as the original Menorah, some refer to it as a "Hanukkiah." This latter term is particularly popular in Israel. Whether you call it a Hanukkah Menorah or a Hanukkiah, we are sure that you will find the perfect one for you at Judaica Web Store.
Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore talks about the Jerusalem as not only the holy city in Israel but also a multivalent metaphor, the place of our origin and the place to which we will one day return, a memory as well as a hope that each one of us carries inside us no matter where we live. Thought of this way, the menorah is not only a commemorative object referring to the miracle in the Temple, when The Maccabeans defeated the Seleucids and when one day's worth of oil lasted eight. The menorah is also our way of sanctifying the stronghold of the family home.
Judaica Webstore's miniature Jerusalem menorahs make the Hanukkah metaphor almost literal, but we have a variety of other appealing styles, too. Amongst our traditional offerings are several highly polished brass menorahs in traditional designs from across Europe. These replicas of an early 20th century Polish menorah, an 18th century Sicilian menorah, and a 15th century German menorah are a testament and an archive of the European-Jewish experience.
Another traditional and upscale group of menorahs which also come by way of European history are our Hazorfim Sterling Silver Menorahs. Founded in Israel in 1952 and harnessing the skill and tradition of Eastern European émigré artisans, Hazorfim Silver has produced pieces that can be found in the private collections of King Hussein of Jordan and Vladimir Putin of Russia.
Contemporary Interpretations of the Menorah by Israeli Artisans
Contemporary designs are also available, such as Avner Agayof's minimalist-style menorahs. These colorful menorahs are made of anodized aluminum and break down into modular units and to be stored in clever wooden box. World-renowned sculptor David Gerstein has designed a number of colorful menorahs in his signature approach, sheet steel plasma cut into playful patterns and printed in exuberant colors. You will also find hand-painted designs from Jerusalem-based Yair Emanuel as well as modernist designs from Haifa-based Shraga Landesman.
Finally, check out our hand-dipped bees wax Hannukah candles, from Safed Candles in Upper Galilee.