Thursday, December 09, 2010

Shaky chabad menorah history

The image above comes from the Gutnik edition of Exodus. The letter on the right is based on one of the last Rebbe's sichot and explains why Chabad style menorot have their distinctive shape, as depicted on the left.

According to the Rebbe (as he is quoted here):

(1) The Rambam's drawing is historically accurate; and
(2) Our menorot, for some reason, are required to look like the Rambam's drawing.

If he ever explained why Chanukka menorot must match the menorah used in the Temple, that explanation is not provided here.

Unfortunately, there are some problems with this....

>> Protest and pictures after the jump
First, a basic error: Why are we certain Rambam was correct? He never saw a Temple Menorah and lived 1000 years after the last one was destroyed. Perhaps he got it wrong? We know that Rambam thought a Temple Menorah had diagonal branches, but why are we positive he was right?

And indeed, here is plenty of credible historical evidence which suggests that he was wrong.

Engraved Stone, first century Migdal 

Second Temple period stone tablet from a synagogue in Peki'in, Israel
Coin issued by the last Hasmonean king, Mattathias Antigonus.
Arch of Titus First Century

Menorah on column capital_0955 by hoyasmeg

artwork: Menorah With Depression For Oil Lamps

Mosaic of Menorah
3rd Century Mosaic Tunisia

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