08 Dec Deciding Which Side
The Gemara in Shabbos daf chof bais amud alef says, “The Halacha states one should light the menorah on the left side with the mezuzah on the right.” The Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chaim siman taf resh ayin alef, seif zayin quotes the above Gemara and paskens the same way as the above Gemara that the menorah is lit on the left side of the door. The following question arises. In Jewish law the right side is always the preferred side. Why is the mitzvah of menorah different? Another question arises based on the Gemara in Shabbos daf kuf yud zayin, amud bais where Amoraim would use bread for lechem mishna that was previously used for an eiruv. There is a concept that once something was used for one mitzvah, we can use it for another mitzvah. Why don’t we say concerning the menorah, that the right side which is used for one mitzvah should be used for another? The Sfas Emes explains this concept which will answer our second question. We can only use an object that was used for a mitzvah after the first mitzvah was finished. In the case of mezuzah, the right side is continuously being used. Another explanation, which will answer the first question, can be that since the menorah is a reminder of the menorah in the Bais Hamikdosh, which was on the dorom (south) side, on the left side of the heichal we light the menorah on the left side. Another reason for putting the menorah on the left side is as the Mishna Berura writes that we want to surround ourselves with Mitzvos. With the menorah on left and mezuzah on right, the Meiri comments that the person is wearing taalis and teffilin. This will be mekayem the Possuk of “Choneh Malach…. Saviv liyereiav…. Vayechaltzem. The Rambam teaches us that Chazal were not able to add to the Torah. They were only able to make gezeiros. Since Chanukah has some remazim in the Torah, we don’t want people confusing it with mezuzah that is a Deoraysa. We therefore light on the left side. We use the language “asher tzivanu” in the Bracha of Chanukah. Where were we commanded in the Torah to light the Chanuka Menorah? The answer is Lo Sasur, that one has to listen to Chazal and not turn away from them. Rashi explains that one has to listen to Chachamim even if they tell you left is right and right is left. We therefore light on the left side to remind us that we listen to Chazal even if they tell us to do it on the left side. In conclusion, when Chazal tell us left is right, it is the correct side. Right could be wrong. Remember. Follow the “direction” of Chazal and have a freilichen Chanukah.