Round Menorahs

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The Terumas Ha-Deshen (105) discusses whether a round menorah is acceptable for use. He answers that if the branches are insufficiently separate then there is a problem that the flames may join and the entire menorah becomes a “torch”. However, if each branch is separate then there is no problem of a “torch” and the menorah is entirely acceptable. The Rema (Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 671:4) rules like the Terumas Ha-Deshen.

However, the Maharshal disagrees with the Terumas Ha-Deshen and Rema, and rules in a responsum (no. 85), while agreeing that such a menorah would be technically permissible, that it is not preferable because it is not optimal (mehudar). This ruling of the Maharshal is widely quoted by commentators, including Magen Avraham (671:4), Taz (671:2), Chayei Adam (154:10), Mishnah Berurah (671, Bi’ur Halakah sv. u-mutar), Aruch Ha-Shulkhan (671:14) and Kaf Ha-Chaim (671:31).

Interestingly, the Pri Chadash (671) also disagrees with the Maharshal and says that round menorahs are mehudar and that great sages have used them. The Pri Chadash frequently does not get respect (see the introduction to Bekhor Shor) and this ruling is not quoted by later authorities.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

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