Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
A new online course
Starting January 22nd
Register »
Contact Us

The Flame

The Flame


We can sit and gaze at it for hours.

It's luminous, it's warm, it's romantic; but most of all it's spiritual. (In what way spiritual? We can't really say, but it is spiritual.) A yellow droplet of light, laced with red, bright-white at the edges, and blue at the core as if dirtied by its contact with the material wick. But we didn't see all those colors until we counted them — the flame itself is a perfect, integral whole, emanating calm and tranquility.

How, indeed, can something as agitated as the flame radiate such peace? For the flame is a clash of forces pulling in opposite directions. Look closely: see how it strains upward, striving to tear away from the wick which tethers it to the candle or lamp and lose itself in the great expanses of energy that gird the heavens. But look again, and see how it clings to the length of braided cotton that spears its heart and supplies it with the fuel that sustains its luminance and life. Back and forth, up and down it strives, vacillating between being and naught, between presence and oblivion.

"The soul of man is a candle of G‑d" (Proverbs 20:27). For the soul of man, too, is a clash of divergent forces and contrary strivings.

We yearn to tear free of our "wick" — of the body that anchors us to the physical reality and sullies us with physical needs and wants. We strive upwards, yearning to transcend the physical, the human and the particular, and fuse with the universal and the divine. At the same time, we cling to the body, to the bit of matter that sustains us as dynamic and productive participants in G‑d's world.

It is this perpetual up-and-down, this incessant vacillation from selfhood to selflessness and back again, that we call life. It is this eternal tension between our desire to escape the physical and our commitment to inhabit it, develop it and sanctify it that makes us spiritual beings.

We can sit and gaze at the flame for hours, because we are gazing at ourselves.

By Yanki Tauber; based on the teachings of the Rebbe.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Join the Discussion
Sort By:
1000 characters remaining
Leah December 14, 2015

Exactly. wow - this is so beautifully written and poignant. Reply

Nicole TX, usa December 14, 2014

\-flame-/ how beautiful, like how I feel... :) thank you for such a beautiful comparison. helps me understand why some things happen Reply

sheila Lewis November 11, 2013

light and soul candle this is simply beautiful and I will share it with my many students as we contemplate the lights of Chanukah. Thank you! Reply

Olivia Kroth Friedrichsdorf, Germany via December 9, 2007

Thank you for this spiritual insight into life's ups and downs. Reply

Anonymous bx, ny December 22, 2006

The Flame How very beautiful. Thank you for your spiritual insight. I am going to share this beautiful insight. Reply

jason port huron, MI via May 13, 2005

a facinating mirror What a facinating glimpse into the human soul. You have presented such a wealth of insight. I'll be contemplating this for a long time. Reply

Related Topics
This page in other languages