The Greeks oppressed the Jews on a spiritual level. They wanted to "level the playing field" by forcing Jews to receive life-force from the same place they did: the Left Side, that of gevura. That's the reason they decreed that every Israelite inscribe "We have no portion in the G‑d of Israel" on the horns of their cattle. Cattle represent the Left Side. Horns are devoid of vitality. They are the physical manifestation of spiritual waste matter - the bottommost descent of the Left.

When the Macabees rose and defeated the Greeks, they instituted the practice of lighting of the menorah on the left side of door which faces outside. This act causes the rectification of the Left Side; there evil is mitigated and ultimately vanquished.

The rectification of the Left Side must occur from the Left Side itself. This can be understood by considering the difference between the Levites and the Priests. Both participated in offering sacrifices in the Temple. As the Levites' source is in bina, they are intrinsically above evil…

The Priests originate from the Right Side - that of chesed - as the Zohar writes, "The Priests is a man of kindness".

The Levites are from the Left Side. Their true purpose is to rectify the Left Side. The Torah refers to the Levites with the word "it" (in Hebrew, "hu"), connoting that which is concealed; an unknown object can only be referred to as "it". The connection between "concealment" and the Levites is intimately connected to their ability to rectify the Left Side.

When G‑d created the worlds, a north wind circled the Earth. If G‑d hadn't stopped the creative process at a certain point, the north wind would have completely encompassed the world, and evil's power would have been unstoppable. Nevertheless, evil is immensely powerful. It adheres to the Left Side to nurture life-force. But because its power isn't absolute, its nourishment from the Left Side can be rectified.

The Levites accomplished this rectification by slaughtering the sacrifices in the northern section of the Temple. North corresponds to the Left. That's because inside the Temple the Tablets of Law faced east, and G‑d's Presence is revealed in the Tablets.

The Free World

The sefira of bina is also called the "Free World". This is because the Infinite Light shines there, so evil can not exist. As the Levites' source is in bina, they are intrinsically above evil. Therefore they have the power to bring about its rectification.

The Left Side, then, begins in the free-from-evil world of bina, where incomprehensible Infinite Light shines. Below bina starts gevura. Gevura is still in the realm of holiness; it's just that the dynamic of gevura restricts and constricts light. As a result, at the bottommost level, evil is created and nurtured. The way to deal with evil, then, is to decimate it at its source - the source of the Left Side. In order to elevate physical existence into the spiritual realms, the act must be preceded by an influx of G‑dly Kindness from above…

This explains why the Levites were commanded to shave all the hair off their bodies. Hair is like a narrow tube which constricts the life-force that passes through it. Evil attaches itself to the extremities of the hair where it can receive nourishment from the diminished light. To eliminate that possibility, the Levites shaved.

The Priests, however, assisted the Levites in the Temple service. Before the Levites lifted certain offerings, the Priests first placed their hands under the Levites' hands, and together they would raise the sacrifice. The principle here is that in order to elevate physical existence into the spiritual realms, the act must be preceded by an influx of G‑dly Kindness from above. That's why the Priests, representing chesed, helped the Levites.

Messianic Laughter

These days, spiritual conduct must be a manifestation of Kindness. Only in the Future Era will gevura, i.e. severity, be primary. The Ari said, "In the future the Levites will be Priests". Thus, during Temple times, the Levites required assistance from the Priests. Kindness was, and continues to be, the way to serve G‑d. Nevertheless, the service of the Levites was to rectify the Left Side of severity.

In the Future the attribute of G‑d's essential gevura will dominate. The nature of gevura is to overpower. In other words, G‑d will force a revelation of the "unrevealable".

Isaac corresponds to the sefira of gevura. The numerical value of the word "Isaac" (in Hebrew, "Yitzchak"), equals eight times the numerical value of the four-letter name of G‑d (8 x 26=208). "Yitzchak" refers to the revelation of the Future Era as it written, "They will declare to 'Yitzchak' for you are our father." (Isaiah 63:16) The eight lights of the Chanukah menorah are the eight lights of the sefira of bina

"Yitzchak" is from the Hebrew word for "laughter", an expression of delight. In the Future Era, G‑d's attribute of Delight will be revealed. That's why Isaac-Yitzchak pertains to the post-Messianic Revelation.

The numerical value of the word "Jacob" (in Hebrew, "Yaacov"} is equal to seven times G‑d's name (7 x 26=182). This distinction between seven and eight finds a resonance in the seven lights of the Temple's menorah compared to the eight lights of the Chanukah menorah.

2 Types of Menorahs, 2 Types of Harps

The seven lights of the Temple's menorah represent a lower aspect of G‑d (as "Jacob" equals seven times G‑d's name). They illuminated the seven emotional attributes or sefirot active in Creation. This seven-branched menorah had to be in the south side of the Temple, since South, from G‑d's perspective, is the Right Side - that of chesed. If it was placed in the northern part, the Left Side, evil, could attach itself to the limited life-force revealed by the seven lights. When the Mashiach comes, the Third Temple will have an eight-stringed harp…

But the eight lights of the Chanukah menorah are the eight lights of the sefira of bina. The ten sefirot can be configured as a single vertical set. When counted from below to above, bina is the eighth sefira. As mentioned above, the essence of the Infinite Light is revealed in bina. The Chanukah lights draw down and illuminate this light in order to rectify the Left Side.

The Temple's harp consisted of seven strings. When the Mashiach comes, the Third Temple will have an eight-stringed harp. The Hebrew word for "harp" - "kinor" (spelled chaf-nun-vav-reish) is composed of two sets of two letters: nun-reish, which spells "candle", and chaf-vav, which is the Hebrew number for the name Havayah - 26.

The concept of the harp signifies the illumination of G‑d's light in a candle. In the Temple there was a revelation of the lower name of G‑d, the one that was 7 x 26; therefore, its harp had only seven strings. In the Future Era, when the Third Temple will stand, there will be a revelation of the higher name: 8 x 26; that is why Mashiach's harp has eight strings.

This, then, is secret of the eight lights of Chanukah: through them, the Absolute Infinite Light from the higher name of G‑d is revealed to rectify the Left Side and blow evil away.

Spiritual Courtyards

The menorah must face the outside because it has the power to purify even the "outside" - a domain separate from G‑d. This is similar to the ability of Torah to descend into forbidden realms. Because the Torah's source is the essence of G‑d's Infinite Light, it has the power to reach down to return sparks of holiness and Jews ensnared in the lowest places. The lower world of Yetzira…is called an outer courtyard…

The Kabbala elucidates the disagreement between Rashi and Tosofot regarding the placement of the menorah. Rashi thought it should be placed in the doorway opening onto a courtyard. Tosofot holds that it should be placed in an opening to a main thoroughfare.

There are two kinds of courtyards. The first is an inner courtyard, which usually has a roof. This is analogous to the World of Beriya where good and evil haven't yet mixed. Spiritual evil thus can't get into the inner, covered courtyard.

It is only in the lower world of Yetzira where evil first gets a foothold. There, life-force is so reduced that evil can receive sustenance. This spiritual world is called an outer courtyard; it is exposed to the outside and hasn't any covering. That's why evil can penetrate.

This explains why Rashi wanted the menorah exposed to a courtyard: there, the menorah blows away evil at its root - the place of its initial sustenance. Tosofot, however, thought the menorah should be placed in the doorway facing a public thoroughfare. The public domain refers both to the lowest world of Asiya, and the physical world in which evil prevails. Tosofot felt the menorah is so powerful that it can rectify evil even in its basest, most blatant manifestation.

(Note: According to all opinions today, the menorah must be placed on the left side of the doorway across from the mezuzah).

Adapted from a discourse of the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe on Chanukah 5678 (1918).

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