The Rabbis teach that, ideally, one should light the menorah at the entrance to one’s house, so that the mezuzah is on the right of the doorway and the menorah on the left (Shabbat 22a; since each person’s circumstance differs in practical halachah (Jewish law), one should consult his rabbi as to where he should light). In Masechet Sofrim (chapter 20, law 5), they bring a pasuk (verse) in Shir Hashirim (7:7) which alludes to this. Klal Yisroel (the Jewish nation) declares: “How beautiful and how pleasant [are You, Hashem (God)]”. “How beautiful” is referring to the mezuzah, while “how pleasant [are You]” denotes the ner Chanukah (Chanukah candles).

Perhaps, we may derive the following thought from the parable that is given in this pasuk. A person may have two separate features that make him stand out to others: his appearance, as well as his pleasant personality. There is a difference however, between the two. While his outward appearance is seen at all times that the other sees him, the pleasing disposition of this person is more likely to be noticed only at intervals; when this person expresses himself to the other.

The underlying root of the mitzvah of mezuzah is to remind a person to gain a greater awareness of Hashem at all times, both upon entering his home as well as when he leaves (see Sefer Hachinuch, 423). The menorah, on the other hand, signifies Hashem’s supernatural intervention which we might see at intervals; His ability to express His great love for us in a miraculous way, from time to time.

Thus, Knesset Yisroel (the Jews) display their great love for Hashem by placing the mezuzah on the right. This tells of “the beauty” – the constant kindliness of Hashem that we may see at all times. Yet, we also place the menorah to the left, to signify “the pleasantness” – referring to the inner personal connection that Hashem occasionally expresses – through the out-of-the-ordinary happenings which occur from time to time.

It is these two features together which bring us to a greater love for Hashem that knows no bounds, as that pasuk in Shir HaShirim ends, “a love, delighting in all spiritual pleasures”.

By Rabbi Usher Smith

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