Positive Mitzvah Twenty-Five

Kindling the Menorah by the Kohanim

Requires Beit HaMikdash

Shemot 27:21 In the Tent of Meeting, outside the Veil (Parochet) that is near the Testimony, Aharon and his sons shall arrange it from evening until morning, before Hashem, an eternal decree for their generations, from the Benei of Yisrael.

The Kohanim are commanded to kindle the lamps continually before Hashem.1

All the provisions of this Mitzvah are explained in the 8th chapter of Menachot, in the first chapter of Yoma, and in several places in Tractate Tamid.

"A menorah was put in front of the curtain, as a sign of honor and distinction for the Temple...And the Law lay great stress on our holding the Temple in great estimation and regard, and that at the sight of it we should be filled with humility, mercy, and soft-heartedness'" (Moreh Nevuchim 3, 45).

The Sages argue: "Has He need of light? did not Yisrael in their forty years, wandering through the desert rather proceed only by His light? But in truth [the lamps of the Menorah were lit] solely as a testimony to mankind that the Shechinah [the Divine Presence] dwells in Yisrael" (Shabbat 22b)

1. According to Maimonides, the lamps of the Menorah were to be trimmed and kindled twice daily, in the morning and in the evening, and were always to be burning. In the opinion, of most scholars, however, all the lamps were to be kindled only in the evening, while the morning only the Western Lamp was to be lighted (Mid. 3, 9, Comm.)