RAV MOSHE TZVI NERIAH ON CHANUKAH

MEZUZAH AND CHANUKAH CANDLES

The house serves as the central point of a personís life. We read in the third chapter of Yeshayahu "Let us go up to the mountain of Hashem, to the house of the Lord of Yaakov." The gemara in Pesachim 88b comments on this verse that unlike by Avraham, where we see a reference to a mountain, and unlike Yitzchak, where the reference is to the field, by Yaakov, the father of the twelve tribes and the real foundation of the Jewish nation, we see a reference to a house. Only by Yaakov did the nation finally begin to crystallize. In this vein, we are commanded to put a mezuzah on the right side of the entranceway to our house. The gemara learns that it must be placed on the right side as it must be "derech biíatcha" - the way that a person enters into his house.

However, not only when a person is at home is he supposed to be in a state of purity and perfection, but this way of life is supposed to accompany him in everything that he does out of the home environment as well. As such, man needs a symbol to escort him when he leaves his house, and that symbol is the Chanukah candles. The candles represent the light put forth by the Jews as a whole to the rest of the world, and thus symbolize a manís endeavors in the outside world.

We are told that ideally a person should place his Chanukah candles on the left side of the door so that when he enters his home the mezuzah is to his left and the candles are to his right. The emphasis is on the mezuzah, that which symbolizes the pure, internal life. However, when he leaves his house, the candles are on the right and the mezuzah is on the left. At this point the emphasis shifts - now the stress is on the candles, that which symbolizes the holiness that one can spread to his surroundings.

 

THE CHAIN OF TRADITION IN THE STRUGGLE AGAINST GREECE

Ovadiah 1:18 states "And the house of Yaakov will be a fire, and the house of Yoseif will be a flame, and the house of Eisav will be straw." This verse, which refers to the ultimate victory of the Jews over the Edomites, refers to both Yaakov and Yoseif - father and son. Why are both needed? Certainly one spark is enough to ignite an entire pile of straw! What appears to emerge from the parable is that the one spark is not enough, that the victory over Edom, or any enemy of the Jews, will come only as a result of the combined efforts of two generations.

In the Al HaNissim said on Chanukah we begin by saying "In the days of Mattityahu the son of Yochanan, the high priest, the Hasmonean and his sons." Here, we see not two generation but three! Why is this the case? By the parallel Al HaNissim on Purim we donít mention the lineage of Mordechai - we mention only Mordechai and Esther, the participants in the story. Why by Chanukah do we suddenly have a need to mention a third generation?

It would seem that Chanukah is different than any other struggle that the Jews had with their enemies. While the strength of two generations may have been enough to combat the external Syrian-Greek threat, Mattityahu and his sons faced a second danger at the same time - the Hellenized Jews, an internal threat. This danger required not merely the same "formula" that had stood up to all other danger in the past, but it required the strength that comes from three consecutive generation - "The triple-stranded string will not quickly be broken."


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