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Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag (The RABASH)

What Placing the Hanukah Candle on the Left Means in the Work

Article No. 11, 1989/90

Our sages said (Shabbat p 22), “The Hanukah candle is on the left, so that the Hanukah candle will be on the left and the Mezuzah [a piece of parchment (contained in a case) inscribed with specified verses from the Torah] on the right.” RASHI interprets, “Mezuzah is on the right, as it is written, “Beitecha [your house]— Derech Bi’atcha [the way by which you came], when a person begins to walk, he begins to walk with the right leg.”

In the book, Shaar Hakavanot (p 326), he says, “But the matter of Hanukah and Purim is different, since both are in Hod, even though in regards to the morning prayer, we explained that Jacob is in Netzah and Malchut is in Hod. Accordingly, a regular day is holier than Hanukah and Purim, both of which are in Hod.

But the issue is that at that time, she receives her illuminations by herself, not through her husband, since on a regular day Jacob suckles his illumination and her part of illumination from the Netzah and from Hod. Afterwards, he gives her illumination to her and it extends from Hod through him. But now, on Hanukah and Purim, she suckles the share of her illuminations from the Hod by herself and not through her husband.

We should understand what it means in the work that the Mezuzah is on the right and the Hanukah candle is on the left. What does it come to teach us? Also, we should understand according to what is written in Shaar HaKavanot, that Hanukah and Purim are both one discernment, as it is written, that both Hanukah and Purim are a single discernment that extends from Hod.

Why do both suckle from the same root if on Purim there is joy, a feast, and one must eat the Purim meal, while on Hanukah, our sages said, “These candles are holy, we have no permission to use them”? In the work, we learn that one person contains the whole world. This means that Israel and the seventy nations are in one person.

In other words, a person consists of all the bad qualities that exist in the seventy nations. It is known that the seventy nations extend from the opposite of the seven qualities of Kedusha [holiness], as in “God has made them one opposite the other,” and each quality consists of ten.

This is the meaning of the seventy nations, meaning when the seventy nations govern the Israel in a person, it is considered that the people of Israel is in exile under the governance of the nations. This means that the desires and cravings control the Israel in him, and the part of Israel cannot work for the sake of the Creator, but only for its own sake.

It is completely impossible to understand with reason how it will ever be possible to break free from the dominion of the nations of the world within him. This is because as much as one has toiled to come out of their governance, it was futile. On the contrary, each time he could see more that it is impossible to come out of their exile. This is why we must always remember the exodus from Egypt, as it is written, “that you may remember the day when you came out of the land of Egypt,” meaning believe what is written, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt ... to be a God unto you.”

This means that just as the Creator brought the people of Israel out of Egypt and they were rewarded with, “To be a God unto you,” He can deliver us, too, from the dominion of the seventy nations, to be rewarded with “To be a God unto you.”

One must not say that he is worse than the people who were in Egypt, or that the Creator had the power to deliver only them out of their rule. But when a person sees his own lowness, he despairs and says that he must be worse than those who were in Egypt.

Here we must believe the words of the Ari who says that the people of Israel prior to the exodus from Egypt were already in forty-nine gates of impurity, until the Creator appeared to them and redeemed them. It follows that even when one sees that he is in utter lowness, he shouldn’t escape the campaign and believe that the Creator will deliver him from exile, from being among the nations of the world.

Thus, we can see that the whole basis is founded entirely on faith, that only by faith is it possible to come out of exile. We shouldn’t mind our reason, although a person is judged according to it. But when a person has intellect to see his true state, it enables him to go above reason. In other words, one cannot go above reason without the help of the Creator. But if he sees that he cannot move forward with his reason then he needs His help.

And the main thing that is required of a person is to achieve his own completeness, meaning to be rewarded with NRNHY de [of] Neshama. And this comes specifically by needing the Creator. Our sages said about it, “One who comes to purify is aided.” And The Zohar says, “How is he aided? With a holy soul. When one is born, he is given a soul from the side of a pure beast. If he is rewarded more, he is given Ruach,” etc.

This is why it is a great thing when a person needs the Creator to help him, since one’s salvation is in being given greater powers from above. And by receiving new powers each time, meaning a new soul, in the end he will receive the whole of the NRNHY that belong to the root of his soul. It follows that “a miracle” implies something that a person cannot obtain. That is, it is impossible for one to obtain it unless through a miracle from above. Only in this way is it called “a miracle.”

For this reason, when a person comes to a state where he already has recognition of evil, that it is impossible for him to come out of the domination of the nations of the world in him, that Israel in him is in exile under them, and he sees no way that he can come out of their power, when the Creator helps them and brings them out from the nations of the world and turns it around so that the people of Israel governs them, this is called “a miracle.”

This is regarded as being as it was in the land of Egypt, that the Creator delivered them from the land of Egypt, meaning that the Creator brought them out from under the afflictions of Egypt. One should believe that as this miracle happened at the exodus from Egypt, every single one who is walking in the work of the Creator must believe that the Creator will deliver him, for it is truly a miracle that one exits the governance of self-love and cares only about that which belongs to the benefit of the Creator.

And when a person comes to that, it is considered that this person has achieved Lishma [for Her name]. This means that he has already been rewarded with faith in the Creator and he has the power to work in favor of the Creator, and this is called Lishma. It is also called “right,” when one engages on the path of bestowing upon the Creator, meaning that everything he does is to benefit the Creator. That is, he wants to do Hesed [grace/mercy] to the Creator, meaning give contentment to the Creator.

However, we should know that a person wanting to do everything for the Creator is only the correction of creation. It is not the purpose of creation. The purpose of creation is for man to receive delight and pleasure in the vessels of reception. However, there must be a correction on the vessels of reception, which is called “in order to bestow.”

The abundance of the purpose of creation is called Hochma [wisdom], which is the light of life, as in, “Wisdom will give life to one who has it.” Also, light of Hochma is called “left,” since anything that requires correction is called “left,” as in “the weak hand, whose strength has weakened like a female’s.” This is called “left.”

And what is the correction that should be placed on the light of Hochma? It is the right, which is called Hassadim. In other words, once he has already been rewarded with the purpose of creation, which is the delight and pleasure called Hochma, the light of Hassadim must be drawn once more—the abundance that comes into the vessels of bestowal—since we said that we were given the work in Torah and Mitzvot in the form of “We shall do and we shall hear.” This means that by doing and keeping Torah and Mitzvot in action, we will be rewarded with the state of hearing, too.

In other words, one must keep Torah and Mitzvot even by coercion. There is no need to wait for a time when he has a desire to keep Torah and Mitzvot, and then to keep it. Rather, one must overcome and keep it only in action, but the doing will later bring him hearing, meaning that afterwards he will hear about the importance of Torah and Mitzvot. In other words, he will be rewarded with the delight and pleasure that is found in Torah and Mitzvot. This is the meaning of Israel’s saying, “We shall do and we shall hear.” Thus, in the right, which is called that he engages in Hesed, in vessels of bestowal, it is a keeping so that one can do everything for the benefit of the Creator and not for his own benefit.

It follows that according to the rule, “We shall do and we shall hear,” the act affects the aim. This necessarily means that when one receives Hochma from above, the act must be done, so that the aim will be like the act. It follows that the act of reception affects the intention, making it in order to receive, as well. Therefore, even during the act, when he draws the light of Hochma with the aim to bestow, because of the rule, “We shall do and we shall hear,” he must still receive abundance from the act.

This is why care is needed, to extend clothing, meaning to clothe the light of Hochma, where there is “We shall do.” “We shall do” is the act of bestowal, and we will be rewarded with the intention being in order to bestow, as well. And also, “We shall hear,” that the aim will be to bestow, as well, like the act. This will keep the vessel of reception, which receives the light of Hochma, so it may keep the intention to bestow upon reception of the delight and pleasure, and for it to be in the form of receiving in order to bestow.

With the above said, we should interpret the meaning of the Mezuzah, which must be on the right. Since the Mezuzah is keeping and guarding a person, there is a hint that the Mezuzah is on the right. In other words, keeping belongs to the right, which is considered Hesed, and Kelim de Hesed are considered right, meaning that they do not require correction. But Hochma is considered left because Hochma comes in vessels of reception, and vessels of reception require keeping.

This is why RASHI interprets, “Beitecha [your house]— Derech Bi’atcha [the way by which you came],” meaning that a person begins to walk on the right. It should be interpreted that the beginning of a person’s arrival at the holy work is with the right, that is, that the vessels of bestowal will be in order to bestow. Afterwards, one begins to walk in the left, meaning correct the vessels of reception to be in order to bestow.

This is why it is written that as one begins to walk in corporeality, he begins with the right leg. And this points to spirituality, meaning that in the beginning of one’s arrival at the work of the Creator, he should begin with the right, meaning in wholeness. In other words, for everything he does in the work, he should give thanks to the Creator for having given him some thought and desire to work in the holy work, that still, he has some grip in Torah and Mitzvot, in the practical part.

At that time, he still doesn’t think about the aim, for there are two issues to be discerned in the intention, too.

  1. The intention, meaning who it is who obligates the engagement in Torah and Mitzvot. Is it the environment he is in, since all the friends engage in Torah and Mitzvot, and everyone prays and keeps the Torah lessons at the seminary, etc., or is he keeping Torah and Mitzvot only because the Creator commanded us to keep the Torah and Mitzvot, and he believes in everything that the sages said, and based on that he keeps Torah and Mitzvot?

  2. The intention for the reward, what to receive for keeping Torah and Mitzvot. Some expect to be rewarded for their work, as it is written in The Zohar that there are three reasons for engaging in Torah and Mitzvot: a) to be rewarded in this world; b) to be rewarded in the next world; c) to not be rewarded, but only because of the greatness of the Creator, because He is great and ruling.

Hence, the beginning of one’s work in Torah and Mitzvot is in order to be rewarded. And in that, too, we said that there are two discernments to make:

1) Sometimes a person is not yet strong in faith or able to work for the Creator, so He will reward him, since subconsciously he lacks the faith to make him able to do good deeds. However, he works because of the friends, since he doesn’t want to be despised by them. It is not the Creator who commits him to doing good deeds, but the shame from the friends that does it.

One must think that this is utter lowness that the friends commit him to work and not the Creator. However, this should not be slighted, either. For such deeds, too, a person should be thankful to the Creator—that the Creator gave the friends the power to commit him to act as they wish. It is considered that the Creator is watching over him in concealment. In other words, the Creator is hiding Himself in the clothing of the friends who compel him to do good deeds.

Here we should interpret what our sages said, (Avot, Chapter 3, 20), “And they collect from a person knowingly and unknowingly.” “Knowingly” means that a person knowingly wishes to keep Torah and Mitzvot. In other words, he says that he is doing good deeds is because it is according to the view of the Creator. In other words, the Creator is the one who commits him. “And they collect from him unknowingly” means that a person does good deeds without knowing that he is keeping the Torah and Mitzvot of the Creator, since he is thinking that he is keeping the Torah and Mitzvot of the friends, meaning that the friends commit him.

This is considered that without one’s knowledge, he is keeping the Creator’s will, although he thinks that he is keeping the friends’ will. And if he believed it—that unknowingly he is doing the Creator’s will—meaning if he knew that he wouldn’t keep it because he thinks he is keeping only the will of the friends, this is called “concealment of the face.” In other words, the Creator hides Himself in the clothing of the friends, and in this way he does the Creator’s will.

2) If he gives thanks to the Creator for helping him through the concealment—meaning that now he has the choice to say that he is working because of the friends and he has no contact with the Creator, or that he believes that the Creator hid Himself in the clothing of the friends, and by that he engages in Torah and Mitzvot, and if he chooses and says that only the Creator helped him to be able to do good deeds by Him clothing in a clothing of friends, and he thanks the Creator for it—this brings upon him a great ascent: to be rewarded with the revelation of the face of the Creator. In other words, the Creator gives him a thought and desire to do the Creator’s will, since now he has some illumination from above by sentencing above reason. This is why the Creator helped him, so that through the Achoraim [posterior], he will later be rewarded with the Panim [anterior/face] of the Creator. This means that he has been rewarded with being collected unknowingly.

It therefore follows that the Mezuzah is keeping, which is right, called Hassadim [mercy], at the time when one is in a state of bestowing in order to bestow. This is considered the “correction of creation.” But Hanukah and Purim, says the Ari, are both considered Hod, which is left. This implies to the purpose of creation, which requires correction to be able to receive the delight and pleasure in a corrected manner, implied in the abundance called Hochma. This is why Hanukah is on the left, to indicate to the light of Hochma.

However, on Hanukah there was the state of Hanu Koh [parked thus far], which means, as Baal HaSulam explained, that it was only a pause there and not the end of the war. In other words, the light of the sun, called “left,” was shining but lacked the clothing, the keeping over the Hochma that comes in vessels of reception, since there is a grip to the Sitra Achra in the vessels of reception and there was light of Hassadim there, called “right.”

This is why the miracle was only about spirituality. It means that the light of the purpose of creation was shining, but they couldn’t use it for lack of the clothing of Hassadim, since it is forbidden to use it. This discernment is called “spirituality,” when it has not yet materialized so it can be used. This is why it is written that it is forbidden to use the Hanukah candles but only to see them, for lack of clothing.

But on Purim, they did have the clothing, called Hassadim, as it is written (Talmud Eser Sefirot, end of Part 15), “Hence, since the matter has already been materialized, meaning they could use the light of Hochma in order to bestow, on Purim there is a feast and joy.”

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