}

Not that I was surprised, but…

… it appears not only the Romans considered the menorah in the Temple to be curved, not straight:

(Click here for the picture; I don’t know AP’s take on copying their photo material, but I bet they’re not crazy about it.)

Israeli archaeologists have uncovered one of the earliest depictions of a menorah, the seven-branched candelabra that has come to symbolize Judaism, the Israel Antiquities Authority said today.

The menorah was engraved in stone around 2,000 years ago and found in a synagogue recently discovered by the Sea of Galilee. [Full article]

So, what should we learn from that? Maybe that just because some religious authority dreams of something doesn’t mean his dreams reflect facts. And maybe, just maybe, people should never cease to re-evaluate what they get told. Anybody who’s ever carved in stone knows that exact curved lines are far more difficult to carve than straight lines; no Roman artist would have used curved lines in depicting the original menorah to add some personal artistic liberty.

28 Comments

  1. Grand Muffti

    9/14/2009 at 12:16 am

  2. Shy Guy

    9/14/2009 at 2:37 am

    Come and learn, Mufti. Come and be surprised, Froylein.

    THE ARK OF THE COVENANT AND GOLDEN MENORAH

    Erev Rosh Hashanna is an appropriate time to go to the Rambam’s burial place in Teveria and ask Hashem for forgiveness in casting aspersions on the Rambam’s teachings.

  3. Sruli Broocker

    9/14/2009 at 9:26 am

    Um, those pillars to the right and left of the menorah are also curved. I don’t think it’s proof that the menorah was curved. There aren’t any sharp angles or straight lines in the whole carving. I trust the Rambam a lot more.

  4. ck

    9/14/2009 at 10:27 am

    Oh froylein. Shy Guy linked to an article that’s pretty convincing and that also explains why the menorah is depicted as curved. I don’t know what the right answer is of course, but I took your advice, and I re-evaluated what you wrote and I find the Rambam and Rashi’s interpretations at least as compelling as say… yours and that of the Temple Institute. Thanks fort encouraging me to think for myself!

  5. Tom Morrissey

    9/14/2009 at 10:38 am

    Why froylein thinks contemporaneous visual evidence, based on first-hand observation and corroborated elsewhere, has any relevance to this matter is beyond me.

  6. froylein

    9/14/2009 at 10:38 am

    Muffti might want to re-read the first two lines.

    To all others, it is anything but a convincing thought that the Romans would document – as the Titus arch was meant to document – something in a different way than it appeared just because. The Yiddish term for such reasoning is shtuss. 🙂

  7. froylein

    9/14/2009 at 10:43 am

    Definitely, Tom. Considering that Maimonides was born about 1,000 years after the destruction of the second Temple and only vaguely elaborated on the description of the menorah in the Talmud, which includes multiple references to round shapes, I guess we can ditch all reason.

    A page from the Jewish Encyclopaedia depicts a drawing titled “The Mosaic Menorah as Described in Rabbinical Literature”:

    mosaic menorah

    The very straight lines somebody dreamt of I referred to are a much later “piece”.

  8. Shy Guy

    9/14/2009 at 12:24 pm

    Froylein, many of us are already familiar with the other Rishonim (e.g., Ibn Ezra), who do not agree with the Rambam and Rashi.

    Here’s another article:

    The Mysterious Shape of the Menora

    Figure 3 is the Rambam’s own hand illustration.

    Of interest in both articles are the references to Josephus’ writings and the blatant Roman symbolism incorporated in the Titus depiction.

    Frankly, I don’t care.

    • froylein

      9/14/2009 at 1:23 pm

      Not symbolism, a first-hand eyewitness account is what the Romans left for us. It doesn’t get better than that. Unless you abide by medieval reasoning, which thought of more recent documents to be more accurate, but that is the way medieval people assessed sources, not today’s standard by which we gauge historical accounts.

  9. Tom Morrissey

    9/14/2009 at 1:26 pm

    So– archeological evidence of ancient Jewish culture in the Holy Land can be selectively disbelieved?

    The Palestinians will be delighted to hear it.

  10. Shy Guy

    9/14/2009 at 10:56 pm

    Froylein, I don’t believe Josephus was medieval.

    Tom, no one said disbelieve. Did you read the 2 articles I linked to? There’s no contradiction.

    • froylein

      9/15/2009 at 12:28 am

      Iosephus wasn’t medieval, and I’ve got his report at hand here, in its original language, too.

      Don’t trust any stuff because somebody calling himself “rabbi” publishes it on the internet.

  11. Shy Guy

    9/15/2009 at 1:59 am

    By that logic, I should just as well not trust any stuff because somebody calling herself “froylein” (are you actually a fraulein?) publishes it on the internet.

  12. froylein

    9/15/2009 at 7:42 am

    You need not trust me, but I’ve referred to my sources, which not only I consider trustworthy.

    You don’t usually call women “Fräulein” in German anymore as it’s considered condescending. In the Rhineland, you can use it for chiding a little girl, so there aren’t any actual Fräuleins anymore.

  13. Shy Guy

    9/15/2009 at 9:21 am

    I trust you. I also trust sourced articles. If you think the authors are making up their sources, let us all know.

    As for Fräulein, I meant it with its original complementary intent. If that offends you, it wasn’t intended. However, I prefer to remain old fashioned.

    • froylein

      9/15/2009 at 10:57 am

      I think I’ve stated above how I feel about this matter. People need not make up their sources to misread them. Ignoring sources of almost universally acknowledged value or wilfully misintepreting them is another matter altogether.

      I don’t mind the Fräulein; its use simply isn’t common anymore. It had never been particularly courteous – it compares to the English “Miss” to address an unmarried female. Nowadays you just say “Frau” for married and unmarried women alike. “Frau” derives from Middle High German “frouwe” and initially referred to Mary, mother of Jesus. It was later used for women of nobility, and then spread among the common people with the rising popularity of love poetry. It eventually replaced “Weib” (pronounces /vipe/), which originally meant “woman” (root of the English “wife”). “Weib” started to be considered somewhat rude, but you still find it in old folk poetry.

  14. Sil Lyann Ticks.

    9/17/2009 at 6:34 pm

    Froylein’s goal in life is to discredited Torah and the Rabbi whenever possible.

    It should be noted that there were two types of menorahs in the temple. One with straight arms and others with cureved arms.

    There. Everyone wins.

    • froylein

      9/17/2009 at 7:11 pm

      Froylein’s goal in life is to tackle cultism and mindlessly buying into irrationality whenever she spots a case of either.

      Alas, you had no better point to make than to deliver a line of cheap polemics. You should at least have possessed the smartness to not only use a different IP but a different email address to hide your identity. Still, it wouldn’t have taken me more than two minutes to figure out who I’m dealing with.

      This is getting pathetic beyond imagination.

      P.S.: The real discreditisation is done by those that try to downgrade Judaism into a mindless cult.

  15. Sil Lyann Ticks.

    9/20/2009 at 11:51 pm

    Why would I try to hide my identity? I used my email. I just have not figured out what to call myself now that I am no longer a Long Beach resident.

    Los Angeles Chasid doesnt really do it for me.

    At what point does Judaism not fall under the Froylein Cult Classification System?

    What would two 10th century Rabbis gain from lying about how the Menorah was built?

    Or is your logic that if they would lie about the arms of a menorah then well everything else is a lie too.

    Basically everything Judaism post Temple Destruction is a cult.

    Its a very interesting hypothesis.

    Rambam’s drawings are based off of the Gemara Masketa Menachot.

    • froylein

      9/21/2009 at 10:17 am

      The hypothesis is that rabbis are human, not demi-gods; humans can err. To ditch critical reasoning and theology for the sake of “accepting” doctrine is a feature typical of cults, not only just in my book. That feature is not common of Judaism in general but of certain branches of Judaism, and I have never claimed different, so stop making allegations that only appear true to the dim-witted.

  16. Sil Lyann Ticks.

    9/21/2009 at 11:52 pm

    How is “Rabbis are human” a hypothesis? You seem to interact with very special people as I never once have been taught in my cult religion (by your standards) that Rabbis are anything but Human. Chassidus teaches explicitly based off Talmudic Zoharic, & Midrashic sources that even Tzaddikim are not perfect. I dont know what gets more “common of Judaism” than Rambam and Rashi. My alegations were more question for you than attacks on your character. Questions you refused to answer and instead went back to an underlying theme that only those “dim-wits” that you speak off wouldn’t pick up on which is that you believe I am part of a Cult that ceased to be part of Judaism 200 years ago.

    I forgive you though. Shana Tova Kisva V’Chasima Tova.

  17. froylein

    9/22/2009 at 9:22 am

    I don’t need your forgiveness as I haven’t done anything wrong.

    The answers to your questions can be found in my reply; I refuse to answer questions that qualify as cheap polemics, suggest notions I’ve never claimed and are only aimed at mocking me.

    You have kept criticising and even insulting me for being critical of rabbis based on their position not based on the specific content in question. This in and of itself is rather telling.

    I won’t offer you forgiveness as your behaviour towards me isn’t one I tend to tolerate.

  18. Sil Lyann Ticks.

    9/22/2009 at 10:34 am

    You sounds surprised that after you insult me to the point of accusing me of belonging to a cult that doesn’t represent Judaism that I would do anything but mock you and behave intolerable.

    I ask for forgiveness again as forgiveness is an integral part of the make up of our souls and the Jewish people, regardless of what disagreement we have on Torah and Jewish history.

  19. froylein

    9/22/2009 at 11:41 am

    You assumed yourself to be thought of as part of a cult that doesn’t respond to Judaism, deducing this self-assessment from my fact-based explanations. That’s entirely your choice.

  20. Wandering Chasid

    9/22/2009 at 4:21 pm

    I make no “ass”umptions. We have had many lovely discussions about the Chassidic movement and you have voiced your opinions based on facts published by self hating jewish intellectuals from the haskalah movement and I voiced my opinion based on facts published by Rabbis during the same time period. We both hold strong to our sources and I realized that I nor you can sway the other. We will just have to wait for Moshiach.

    Or is that a cult concept also? 😀

    Ahavas Yisroel

    • froylein

      9/22/2009 at 5:00 pm

      Spiritual insights hardly qualify as rock-solid facts, and not everybody who is scholarly educated is self-hating.

      I’ve explained the evolution of Messianic beliefs at length before.

  21. Long Beach Chasid

    11/28/2010 at 8:53 pm

    Since its that time of year again.

    As you can see in this picture,
    1) this Menorah has a flat base (the real Menorah stood on 3 legs);
    2) it has a hexagon base which is a non-Jewish symbol;
    3) it has images of shkatzim uremasim on sides of the hexagon including a sea-dragon! The Gemarah in Avodah Zarah says that if one finds a vessel with a sea-dragon embossed on it, it is probably Avodah Zarah, and should disposed.
    4) This Menorah lacks the Gevi’im, Kaftorim & Perachim which are mentioned in Parshas Terumah! (Goblets, Knobs and Flowers)

    The fact that Jews would believe the Romans over Rashi and Rambam about something Jewish speaks VOLUMES.

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