An eternal light, known in Hebrew as a ner tamid, hangs over the Holy Ark in every synagogue. The Ark derives from the box containing the Torah Moses received on Mt. Sinai and which our ancestors carried through the wilderness. Moses instructed them to cause a lamp to burn continually near the ark as a symbol of God's eternal presence. The first ner tamid was designed and built by a man named Bezalel, who was endowed with divine skill.
Today, the eternal light hangs above the Holy Ark. It is most often an electric light, symbolic of the eternal flame that burned first through out ancestors' wilderness wanderings, and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. a flame kept alive by the priests. For Jews, it is a symbol of the eternal nature of our Covenant with God.
Text © Rabbi Amy R. Scheinerman, Image Header © 2002 Jonathan L. Hirshon
© 2008, Temple Emanu-El of San Jose, except as noted for additional content used with permission and/or as attributed to original author. All Rights Reserved.