As we learned on yesterday’s daf (=page) the Gemara has shifted its focus from meal-offerings to mitzvot whose different parts are all essential for performing the mitzvah. The Mishnah on today’s daf (=page) discusses several such commandments, including the four tzitzit on a garment, the four Torah portions in tefillin and the seven branches of the menorah – the candelabra – in the Temple.
Regarding the menorah, the Mishnah mentions two separate parts – both the seven branches and the seven lamps. The branches refer to the six arms that branch out from the center branch of the menorah, three on each side (see SeferShemot 25:32); the lamps are the bowls at the top of each one of the branches that hold the oil and the wicks.
Aside from the branches, the Torah teaches that the menorah was decorated with 22 gevi’im (goblets), 11 kaftorim (balls) and nine perahim (flowers), all of which are discussed on today’s daf. Shmu’el teaches that –
- The gevi’im looked like Alexandrian cups (Rashi explains: long and narrow; according to the Rambam they were thin at the bottom and wide at the top).
- Kaftorim looked like apples from the city (or island) of Kartim, which, apparently, were not perfectly round, but were more of an oval shape.
- The perahim were like the flower decorations on columns.
Regarding the perahim, Rashi explains that these were decorations placed on the side of the branches of the menorah; the Rambam suggests that they were a type of crown that went around each of the branches as decoration. Thisdecorated column illustrates both opinions.
The Rambam drew a diagram of his understanding of the menorah although he writes that this is not meant to be an accurate representation, rather a general description. Two points are of particular interest:
- The branches are straight, and at an angle, rather than curved.
- The gevi’im appear upside-down, with their opening at the bottom and stem at the top.
Although the Gemara concludes that the 22 gevi’im, 11 kaftorim and nine perahim are all essential and if any one of them was missing the menorah was invalid, this was only true for the golden menorah used in the Tabernacle and in the firstTemple. When it was made out of other metals – as the Gemara on today’s daf permits – these decorations were not essential.