Chanukah 2010.2: Menorah vs. Chanukiah

Yesterday, I wrote about the various ways people (mis)spell Chanukah.   While I have my own preference (have you figured it out yet??), I am somewhat willing to accept that other people spell it differently.  Somewhat.

The Chanukah bee that really gets in my bonnet, is when people call the candelabra we use for the holiday a Menorah rather than an Chanukiah.  Again, I’ll offer you some information and let you decide how you wish to proceed…

Exhibit A: This is a menorah.

Exhibit B: This is a Chanukiah.

Now, any kindergartener would be able to tell you these artifacts are not the same.  One has seven spots for candles, the other has nine.  The 7-stemmed Menorah was used in biblical times to symbolize the burning bush that Moses encountered in the Exodus story.  It later became a symbol of the Jewish people, one which was desecrated in the time of Judah the Maccabee.  Once the Maccabbees regained their freedom, they lit the menorah as part of their rededication of the temple.  While they had only enough oil to light the lamp for a day, by the power of the great Chanukah miracle, the fire burned for eight days.  As a result we light a special 9-branch “Menorah” called a Chanukiah this time each year as we retell the story of Judah and the magic lamp.

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