When the Torah speaks about making the Menorah (8,4) it says וזה מעשה המנורה מקשה זהב and this is the craftsmanship of the Menorah that is must be made from one piece of gold. The Baal Haturim writes that the word וזה is gematriah 18 alluding to the height of the Menorah which was 18 cubits. The meforshim learn that the Menorah symbolizes the Torah Shbe’al Peh in contrast to the Aron which contained the Luchos – the Torah Shbichsav. Learning the Oral Torah brings life as the Rambam brings in Hilchos Rotzaiach that if a talmid goes into the refuge city because he killed accidentally then his Rebbimust follow him into galus in order to learn with him Torah. The same dinapplies if the Rebbi killed accidentally. The reason is because:
תלמיד שגלה לערי מקלט מגלין רבו עמו שנאמר (דברים י”ט ה’ דברים ד’ מ”ב) “וחי” עשה לו כדי שיחיה וחיי בעלי חכמה ומבקשיה בלא תלמוד כמיתה חשובין
Since the passuk says that in the refuge city he must “live” it teaches that the inhabitants must give him life. Hence they must supply him with a rebbibecause the life of one who possesses Torah wisdom and those who “seek” to know Torah wisdom, without it are deemed dead.
We can therefore say that the Menorah was specifically 18 cubits high in order to allude to the gematriah חי, life. For the individual who absorbs the Torah that he learns, is connected to a deeper source of life energy than everyone else.
The Menorah was required to be sculptured from one piece of gold מקשה . A great tzadik interpreted this word to mean “stubborn” from the root word עקשן. The making of the Menorah which symbolizes acquiring the learning of Torah properly, requires one to possess the middah of stubbornness to be persistent in trying to understand the gemarah. For at the end by being obstinate, he will receive the understanding that he seeks as a present from Hashem. As Chazal say ויגעת ומצאת תאמין.
I would like to apply this same concept to tefillah. There is a relationship between the Menorah and the Mizbaiach. The Peri Tzadik Chanukah 1 writes that the Torah Shbe’al Peh resides in the hearts of Am Yisrael. The Sfas Emes writes Vayigash תרמא
מים עמוקים עצה בלב איש (משלי כ) הרמז על תורה שנקראת מים ותורה שבעל פה נקראת מים עמוקים שנמצא שורש התורה בכל איש ישראל כמו שאומרים חיי עולם נטע בתוכנו רק שצריכין לייגע למצוא הנקודה הטמונה בלב כמו שכתוב (משלי ב ד) אם תבקשנה כו’ וכמטמונים תחפשנה
The Vilna Gaon on Mishlei writes
משלי כ”ג ה’ ותורה שבעל פה היא אשר נטע בתוך לבבינו  בלב כל אחד ואחד וכו’ וחיי עולם נטע בתוכינו היא תורה שבעל פה
Rav Tzadok explains in (Divrei Chalomos 25) with the above concept, the usage of the Aramaic lashon of אליבא  which means according to the hearts opinion of so and so instead of אדעתיה the knowledge opinion of so and so. The reason being that the Torah Shbe’al Peh is rooted in the hearts of Am Yisrael.
The Mizbaiach parallels the Menorah in that it also relates to the heart of AmYisrael. In the sefer Beis Tefillah he brings many comparisons of the heart and the mizbaiach
מה מזבח בנוי באמצע העולם כך הלב באמצע הגוף. מה מזבח יש בו צד קצר וצד רחב שנ’ ואלה מדות המזבח כך הלב צד קצר וצד רחב. מה מזבח האש יוקדת בו שנ’ והאש על המזבח תוקד בו לא תכבה כך הלב וכן הוא אומ’ חם לבי בקרבי בהגיגי תבער אש ר”ל בהיותי הוגה בתפלתי בערה כאש בלבי להיותה מקובלת לפני האל. וכן ביארו חכמי המחקר והרופאים מה מזבח הדם נזרק עליו שנאמר וזרקו את הדם על המזבח כך הלב הדם מתבשל בתוכו. מה מזבח יש בו פגם פסול כך הלב צריך שלא יהיה בו פגם כי העדר הכוונה הוא מום בתפלה ומזה אז”ל גדולה תפלה יותר מהקרבנות ומזה הטעם נתיחסה התפלה אל הלב ולא בשאר האיברים ע”כ.
Furthermore, the three Tefillos of the day were instituted to parallel the korbonos  that were sacrificed on the mitzbaichTefillah is called avodah of the lev ולעבדו בכל לבבכך זו תפלה. The measurements of the mizbaiach were 32 cubits by 32 which is two times לב. The Ben Yehodaah writes that the gematriah of מזבח  is 57 the total number of berachos recited in the three Shemoneh Esrais. All this points to the fact that the menorah also represents the lev of Torah and tefilah for it is from the fire burning on the mizbaiach that the menorah is lit.
Also physically, the menorah resembles the structure form of the Shemoneh EsraiChazal say that when approaching a king or master to ask a request, the appropriate order of asking is first to say praise to whom you are beseeching, then make your request, and afterwards say thank you. This means that your request should be sandwiched between praise and thank you. The three branches of the Menorah symbolize the three berachos of praise at the beginning of the Shemoneh Esrai, the middle ner is the request, and the threebranches to the left is the three berachos of gratitude.
That being said, we can suggest that just like Torah learning it must be miksha,directed by stubbornness, so too tefiilah of the heart must follow in the same direction. Did you ever realize that until Shemoneh Esrai the davening is sort of ok. However once the Amidah begins the flood gates open, the avalanche of distractions start falling in your head, and the tsunami of diversions start flooding your thoughts. What are we supposed to do when the onslaught to our Shemoneh Esrai happens?
The answer is don’t surrender to the enemy but rather be stubborn and keep fighting. As our tzadikim have instructed us that when attacked by the yetzerharah in this situation and defeats you at מגן אברהם ,  defeat him at מחיה המתים. If he gets you at מחיה המתים  get him back at אתה קדוש . Keep warring with it from beracha to beracha even until the last beracha of Shemoneh Esrai. For if you can bring yourself to concentrate even in the last berachah of Shalom alone, your casualties of losing eighteen battles nevertheless earned you the title of victor since you won the war. All the yetzer harah wanted was for you to fall in despair and make your davening a failure in your eyes. By continuing the frustrating journey riddled with hurdles and shortcomings, the struggle itself to become close to Hashem was the deepest part of your tefillah.
The eighteen cubits which describes the height of the menorah which also symbolizes tefillah is eighteen cubits of מקשה  of stubbornness from the beginning of the Shemoneh Esrai  until the very last beracha of Shalom. It is to teach us that one must be an עקשן  if need be all through the tefillah from beracha to beracha with the power of hischadshus even if one failed having kavvanah at the pervious beracha.
Another interpretation we suggest about the חי  height of the Menorah, is the inyan of davening together with the learning which means that one should daven that his wisdom should not exceed  his deeds. My Rebbi ztl Rav Shlomo Freifeld met a Yid from Toronto who had a grandfather who learned by the Avnei Nezer who davened every Motzei Shabbos in the Beis Hakavaros by a known tzadik, that the Torah that he heard from his Rebbe, should  bring him to action and fruition and should not remain merely wisdom alone. One’s learning must be חי  alive, put into action not just in words. This action needs one to be an עקשן as well.
Dovid Hamelech said on himself הנה טפחות נתתה ימי (Tehillim 39,6). You made my life measured like cubits. We can explain this to mean according to what Dovid said upon himself in another perek of Tehillim (109,4) ואני תפלה My essence is tefillah or as Rashi writes I daven before You always. If Dovid davens, then he symbolizes the 18 טפחות  of the Menorah which correspond to the eighteen berachos of Shemoneh Esrai. This is hinted in the gematriah of די”ח טפחות  which equals תפילה.

Gut Shabbos
Rav Brazil