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eternal light  (Hebrew: ner tamid)

Name given to the light which is kept burning in the synagogue. It is a symbol of the golden seven-branched candelabrum (menorah) which burned continuously in the Temple. Originally this was placed in a niche in the western wall, but subsequently was suspended in front of the Ark. The ner tamid has been interpreted alternatively as the symbol of God's presence and as the spiritual light emanating from the Temple. In ancient times it was created by a wick burning in olive oil; however, in the modern period an electric light is normally used.


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Reprinted with permission from A Concise Encyclopedia of Judaism,
by Dan Cohn-Sherbok
.© Oneworld Publications.