As we learned on yesterday’s daf the Gemara has shifted its focus from meal offerings to mitzvot whose different parts are all essential for performing the mitzva. The Mishna on today’s daf discusses several such commandments, including the four tzitzit on a garment, the four Torah portions in tefillin and the seven branches of the menora – the candelabrum – in the Temple.
Regarding the menora, the Mishna 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 menora, three on each side (see Sefer Shemot 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 menora was decorated with 22 gevi’im (goblets), 11 kaftorim (knobs) and nine peraḥim (flowers), all of which are discussed on today’s daf. Shmuel 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 peraḥim were like the flower decorations on columns.
Regarding the peraḥim, Rashi explains that these were decorations placed on the side of the branches of the menora; the Rambam suggests that they were a type of crown that went around each of the branches as decoration.
The Rambam drew a diagram of his understanding of the menora 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 peraḥim are all essential and if any one of them was missing the menora was invalid, this was only true for the golden menora used in the Tabernacle and in the first Temple. When it was made out of other metals – as the Gemara on today’s daf permits – these decorations were not essential.