Ner Tamid


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Congregation Ner Tamid


The Ner Tamid is the "eternal light" that is placed in front of the aron kodesh, the holy ark or cabinet that contains the Torah scrolls. It became a tradition to have a ner tamid, an eternal light, burning at the front of the synagogue. Although some sources cite the ner tamid as a reminder of the menorah in the Temple, Beit Ha-Mikdash, it is more frequently associated with the Temple's continuously burning incense altar in front of the ark. Our sages also associated the ner tamid with the symbolic idea of HaShem's ongoing Presence, Shekhinah.

Some Sephardic synagogues have two nerot tamid (plural of ner tamid). One symbolizes the incense altar, mizbeach ha-ketoret, and one symbolizes the pillar of fire which guided B'nai Yisra'el, the Children of Israel, through the Midbar, Wilderness. According to Shemot (Exodus) 40:34-38, a pillar of cloud led the people by day and a pillar of fire led them at night. The Sephardic second ner tamid reminds us of that special guidance.

Today, the Ner Tamid, or "Eternal Light", is a single electric lamp. As in ancient times, it burns perpetually and symbolizes the eternal presence of HaShem. The Eternal Light is usually located above the ark.

According to Yesha'yahu HaNavee, Isaiah the Prophet, HaShem would be an "Eternal Light" instead of the sun, moon, and stars (Isa. 60:19-20). In Z'kharyah (Zechariah) chapter 4 there is a description of the menorah which represents the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. In verse 6, Adonai says "Not by might and not by power, but by my Spirit."  In the Torah the menorah is described as the seven-branched lampstand that continually burned in the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, in the Holy Place (HaKodesh), Shemot (Exodus) 25-26, 37:17-24, B'Midbar (Numbers) 8:2-4.

In the Good News according to Mattityahu (Matthew), Yeshua said to his talmidim (disciples), "You are the light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Likewise, when people light a lamp, they don't cover it with a bowl, but put it on a lampstand, so that it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way let your light shine before people, so that they may see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven." (Mattit'yahu 5:14-16)

In conclusion, in the Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan it says that "Night will no longer exist, so they will need neither the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because Adonai, G-d, will shine upon them. And they will reign as kings forever and ever."