The Menorah and the Mezzuzah
By Menachem Mendelson
In the Talmud, the relationship between the menorah and the mezuzah is established: "The Chanukah menorah should be outside of the door on the left side and the mezuzah should be on the right side in order that we should be surrounded by G-d's commandments."
Although today we place the Chanukah menorah indoors, still, in the time of the Talmud and today, in Israel, the menorah is placed outside the door.
The menorah is compared to the mezuzah. Both are on the outside. Both are near the door. Yet something deeper is alluded here when the Talmud compares the menorah to the mezuzah.
We can see that there are several differences between the two. The mezuzah is on the right; the Chanukah menorah is on the left. The mezuzah is on the outside, but it is for the inside of the house; it protects the inhabitants. The menorah is on the outside; its message is for the outside world to proclaim to all the miracle of Chanukah.
In the language of the mystics of the Kabbala, the left and right have deep significance. The left is attributed to gevurah, the concept of strength. The right is associated with chesed, the act of giving. The mezuzah is on the right; it is G-d's protection of our houses so that no evil may enter. That is his kindness, that he stands on the outside and guards our house.
The Chanukah menorah is on the left. It is out sign of G-d's great strength in the world. He did for us great miracles. To this purpose, we publicize His strength in the world. The miracle that He has done for us, His total command of the laws of nature.
Yet today we do not put the menorah outside. Why? Perhaps we are afraid of the people in the street. If so, we bring it in and it illuminates its message in the house. G-d's strength and ability to do miracles and wonders are still around. However, we need the menorah inside to tell us that message. It no longer stands outside of our houses relating to the person who is in the dark, that the message of Chanukah is for him. No, the menorah is now in our house, and its message is now for us.
The light of the menorah gives us the faith in G-d to realize that we must be strong in our faith. We must not fear the darkness. For when the times were at their darkest moment, when we had no friends, G-d helped us overcome our numerous enemies.
The message in this year is the same. But it is not the person passing by who is the object of the message of the menorah. It is us. We must assimilate the message of the menorah. We must take heed and be stead fast in our faith.
This year we must light inside, for ourselves. Perhaps next year we will light outside.
from the December 1999 Edition of the Jewish Magazine