This week’s parashah, parashat T’rumah, deals with the instructions for the building of the Mishkan, the tabernacle, and for the making of all the sacred elements and furniture necessary for the rituals performed in the Mishkan.
One piece of the sacred furniture was the Menorah (a lampstand with seven branches), which is one of the most ancient Jewish symbols.
There is an interesting situation with the Menorah and Moses that I would like to focus on in these Torah Thoughts.
It is written in Midrash Tanhuma: Three things Moses found difficult and the Holy One, blessed be He, showed them to him with a finger and these are them: The making of the menorah, the moon, and creeping things.
In the making of the menorah, how [was it]? When Moses ascended [Sinai], the Holy One, blessed be He, was showing him on the mountain how he would make the tabernacle. When He showed him the making of the menorah, Moses found it difficult. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “See, I am making it before you.” What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He showed him white fire, red fire, black fire, and green fire. Then from them He made the menorah, its bowls, its knobs, its blossoms, and the six branches. Then He said to him (Numb. 8:4), “This is the making of the menorah.” This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed him with a finger. But nevertheless, [Moses] found it difficult. What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He engraved it on the palm of Moses’ hand. He said to him, “Go down and make it just as I have engraved it on your hand.” Thus it is stated (Exod. 25:40), “Observe and make them [by means of] their pattern.” Even so, he found it difficult and said (Exod. 25:31), “with difficulty will the menorah be made,” meaning to say, how difficult it was to make. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “Cast the gold into the fire, and it will be made automatically.” So it is stated, “with difficulty will the menorah be made.” This teaches that Moses had difficulty with the menorah, and the Holy One, blessed be He, showed it to him with a finger, as stated (Numb. 8:4). (Midrash Tanhuma Shemini, Siman 11)