1) THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE MENORAH
QUESTIONS: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which states that "the Menorah was made from ha'Eshes and from gold. If it was made from Geruta'os, it is invalid. If it was made from any other type of metal, then it is valid." According to the Beraisa, the requirement that the Menorah be made from "ha'Eshes" and not from "Geruta'os" applies even b'Di'eved; the Menorah is not valid if this requirement is not fulfilled. However, the requirement that the Menorah be made from gold, and not from other metals, is only l'Chatchilah. If the Menorah was made from other metals, it is valid b'Di'eved.
There are a number of points in this Beraisa that need clarification.
(a) What constitutes making a Menorah from "ha'Eshes," and what constitutes making it from "Geruta'os"?
(b) What is the source for this Halachah?
(c) If a Menorah is made from any metal other than gold, does the requirement that it not be made from "ha'Eshes" still apply?
(a) There are two basic explanations for the meaning of "ha'Eshes" and "Geruta'os."
1. RASHI explains that "ha'Eshes" refers to making a Menorah by taking a solid block of gold (the size of a Kikar) and forging it into the shape of a Menorah. Rashi explains that "Geruta'os" refers to "broken pieces of gold." Rashi apparently understands that the problem with Geruta'os is in the solidity of the Menorah, sinced it is formed by many small pieces. If these Geruta'os would be melted down to form one solid piece of gold, a Menorah formed from this block might be valid.
2. The NETZIV (in EMEK HA'NETZIV to the Sifri, Parshas Beha'aloscha, Piska 3) understands that the Pesul of Geruta'os is due to the fact that the gold was softened already when it was melted and shaped by the banging of a hammer. Even if it will be melted down again and formed into a new solid block of gold, it might not be valid since the gold was already softened.
The Netziv asks an obvious question on the requirement that the Menorah be made from a single block of gold and not from Geruta'os. The Torah (in Parshas Terumah) clearly states that the Jewish people contributed gold to the Mishkan by bringing their ornaments and jewelry, and this gold was used in the construction of the Mishkan and its vessels. How could this gold be used if the Menorah and other vessels needed to be made from a single block of new gold? (The Netziv infers from the wording of the Sifri that all of the vessels of the Mishkan needed to be fashioned from "ha'Eshes" l'Chatchilah, and it is not reasonable to assume that they were constructed in a b'Di'eved manner by using Geruta'os.)
The Netziv answers that the vessels of the Mishkan and Beis ha'Mikdash were not fashioned from the ornaments themselves. Rather, the people donated their ornaments, and those were then bartered and exchanged for solid blocks of new gold and silver (from the surrounding nations).
(b) The source for the requirement to make the Menorah from "ha'Eshes" is the verse, "Mikshah" (Shemos 25:31), as the Gemara here mentions.
How is this requirement implied by the word "Mikshah"?
1. RASHI explains that the word "Mikshah" comes from the word "Nokesh," which means to bang or to hammer. The verse is teaching that the Menorah must be formed by chiseling and pounding a single piece of gold into the desired shape. Melting gold pieces into a single block of gold and then pounding it is not considered "Mikshah," since the single block was not originally made into one block of gold.
2. The NETZIV understands from the Sifri that "Mikshah" is a contraction of the words, "Min Kasheh" -- from hard gold. If the gold was already formed into other vessels, then it was made soft and does not qualify as "Min Kasheh."
3. RABEINU HILLEL (in his commentary on the Sifri) explains that "Mikshah" means "Ma'aseh Kasheh." This refers to the extremely difficult manner of making the Menorah by chiseling it out of a single block of gold, as opposed to forming it with a mold or by attaching separate pieces together.
(c) If a Menorah is made from any metal other than gold, does the requirement that it not be made from "ha'Eshes" still apply? The Gemara derives from a verse (Bamidbar 8:4) that "when it is made of gold, it is made 'Mikshah,' but when it is not made of gold, it is not made 'Mikshah.'" This means that if the Menorah is constructed from other types of metals, it does not need to be made "Mikshah." Since the requirement to make the Menorah from "ha'Eshes" and not from Geruta'os is also learned from the word "Mikshah" (in Shemos 25:31), it seems that when the Menorah is made from other metals, the requirement that it be made from a single block does not apply. (Some suggest that this may be inferred from Rashi's words, "Zahav Shavur," which imply that only gold that is not a complete block may not be used, but other metals may be used when they are not a complete block.)
However, the RAMBAM (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 3:5) states explicitly that a Menorah made from Geruta'os is invalid, whether it is made from gold or from any other metal. How does the Rambam reconcile his ruling with the words of the Gemara?
The Rambam interprets the word "Mikshah" in a different way. The Rambam (in Perush ha'Mishnayos to Midos) explains that "Mikshah" means "full" as opposed to hollow. The Menorah must not be made with any hollow space left inside. With regard to this requirement of "Mikshah" (that the Menorah not be hollow), the Rambam does cite the Gemara that says that when the Menorah is made from other metals, it does not need to be "Mikshah," but it indeed may be hollow. Nevertheless, the Rambam still understands that the only requirements that do not apply to a non-gold Menorah are those laws that pertain to the different shapes used for the Menorah, and to the size of the Menorah. As the Gemara says, the Menorah must be constructed from a Kikar (a measurement of weight) only when it is made from gold, but not when it is made from other metals. Similarly, the Menorah needs Gevi'im and Kaftorim only when it is made from gold, but not when it is made from other metals.
Similarly, the requirement of "Mikshah," according to the Rambam, is a requirement in the shape of the Menorah. With regard to the shape, the Torah teaches that only when it is made from gold must it be full and not hollow. When the Menorah is made from other metals, it may be hollow.
(One may suggest that the reason why the aesthetic requirements of a gold Menorah differ from the requirements of a Menorah of other metals is that gold itself has a different appearance than other metals.)
However, with regard to the actual manner in which the Menorah is constructed, such as the requirement to build the Menorah from an original, whole piece of gold, the Rambam rules that even when it is built from other metals this requirement applies, since it does not pertain to how the Menorah looks but rather to how it is built. Therefore, the Rambam rules that a Menorah made from Geruta'os is invalid even when it is made from other metals. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)
2) HALACHAH: MAKING A MENORAH SIMILAR TO THE ONE IN THE BEIS HA'MIKDASH
OPINIONS: The Beraisa states that one may not construct a Menorah similar to the Menorah in the Beis ha'Mikdash. This prohibition includes constructing a Menorah out of metals other than gold, since the Menorah in the Beis ha'Mikdash is valid even when made from other metals. What, though, is the Halachah with regard to building a Menorah in a way that would invalidate the Menorah in the Beis ha'Mikdash? For example, may one build a Menorah out of gold without the Gevi'im and Kaftorim? Is one permitted to build such a Menorah, since such a Menorah is invalid for use in the Beis ha'Mikdash?
(a) REBBI AKIVA EIGER (Hagahos to Shulchan Aruch YD 141:8) reasons that since a gold Menorah is invalid without the Gevi'im, one should be permitted to make a Menorah in this manner.
(b) However, Rebbi Akiva Eiger cites the TEVU'OS SHOR who prohibits making a Menorah even in such a manner. This is also the view of the BI'UR HA'GRA, who explains that since a Menorah made of other metals is valid without Gevi'im, a gold Menorah made without Gevi'im is "still a Menorah" and thus one is prohibited to make a Menorah from any type of metal even if one makes it without Gevi'im. The reasoning behind this seems to be that the Torah prohibits making any Menorah in a fashion ("Tzurah") that is similar to the Menorah in the Beis ha'Mikdash, even though it is not identical in all aspects of Kashrus. Since a Menorah made of other metals is valid without Gevi'im, it must be that Gevi'im are merely additions to the Menorah and are not an essential, defining feature of the Menorah. (Even though a gold Menorah is invalid without Gevi'im, that is not because it is not considered a Menorah. Rather, it is a Menorah, but a Menorah that is lacking one of its requirements.) Therefore, one is prohibited to build a Menorah out of gold even if he does not build the Gevi'im, because even though it is not similar in Kashrus to the Menorah in the Beis ha'Mikdash, it is similar in the way it is fashioned.
Another example of a Menorah which is not valid for use in the Beis ha'Mikdash but which still is prohibited to build is a Menorah made of gold but not "Mikshah." Such a Menorah is invalid in the Beis ha'Mikdash but is still prohibited to build for one's own personal purposes. Since the law is that a Menorah made of other metals does not have the requirement of "Mikshah," one may not make a Menorah of gold even without "Mikshah."
(Even according to the RAMBAM (see previous Insight) who maintains that a Menorah made from Geruta'os is invalid even when the Menorah is made of metals other than gold, one is prohibited to make such a Menorah from Geruta'os for personal use. As explained earlier (see previous Insight), the requirement that the Menorah not be made from Geruta'os is not a Halachah pertaining to the appearance of the Menorah, but rather it is a Halachah pertaining to how the Menorah should be built. Even if Geruta'os are a type of raw material that may not be used, the nature of the appearance of the Menorah remains the same. Consequently, one is prohibited to build a Menorah from Geruta'os even according to the Rambam.) (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)