From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
A Menorah is a candelabrum with seven candles that is displayed in Jewish synagogues. The original design for the menorah is in the Torah, and it was used in rituals in the tabernacle (portable sanctuary) and later the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, it has had no formal role in Jewish prayer services or rituals. The presence of a menorah in some synagogues is purely symbolic.
The one exception to this concerns the Jewish festival of Chanukah, in which a nine-branched version of the menorah is used; this nine branched menorah is properly called a Chanukiah.
The Chanukkah menorah includes eight candles. Jewish folklore brings down that the reason is one for each day the Oil miraculously burned when there was only enough for one day. The Talmud teaches that during the Greek rule in the Land of Israel, the Jews were not allowed to celebrate Sukkot, a holiday of eight days. Therefore, Chanukkah was deemed an eight day holiday from the outset in order to make up for them missed holiday of Sukkot. Today the candles are still lit in order to remember. The ninth candle, the "shammes" (in Yiddish) or "shamash" (in Hebrew), is a "servant candle" that is used to light the others.
The fate of the original Menorah is obscure. A depiction is still available on the triumph-arch of Titus, and it remained in Rome until its sack by the Vandals in 455 A.D., but the Byzantine army under General Belisarius took it back in the 6th century and brought it to Constantinople. Here, the trail ends. It is not further mentioned in any Byzantine chronicles, and one can only speculate whether it remained there until the city was sacked or brought back to Jerusalem.