September 22, 2018 |

Facinating Fire

Originally appears at http://rabbisuzannebrody.wordpress.com/

My son is fascinated by fire. He pretends to light Shabbat candles using his toy candlesticks, and every time he passes by the spot where we store our hanukiot, our menorahs, he points to them and says "fire. Don't touch. Very hot." Yet the potential danger doesn't deter him from climbing up on a chair and trying to reach for the matches so he can help on Friday night when we light the Shabbat candles and on Saturday night as we light the havdallah candle. Once the flames are lit, he begs to be picked up so he can get a closer look. So we stand together, mesmerized by the flames, at least until he wriggles out of my arms and jumps down to go play.

I, even as an adult so used to rushing from one thing to the next, find that the flames that surround Shabbat draw me in. Much like Shabbat itself, the flames make us pause. We watch the flickering and the dancing, the swirls of colors, and we slow down for a moment.

Moses, too, found himself drawn to flames. "An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from within the thorn bush, and behold, the thorn bush was burning with fire, but the thorn bush was not being consumed. So Moses said, "Let me turn now and see this great spectacle why does the thorn bush not burn up?"" (exodus 2:2-3)

I wonder how long he stood before that bush watching the flames before he realized that the wood wasn't turning into charcoal and ash. It must have been a while. And yet, it is only after having stood there gazing into the flames long enough to notice that the bush wasn't being consumed, that Moses decides to turn to "see this great spectacle.". In actively turning and focusing his attention on the sight before him, Moses noticed that which was there all along, and was able to enter into a dialogue with God.

As you light the havdalah candle tonight, rather than rushing through the ritual and hurrying off into the business of the week ahead, take an extra moment to turn aside and gaze into the flames. Realize that just as God is in the fire, so too is God all around us. It is up to us to notice.

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Suzanne Brody

Joined: June 6, 2011

Suzanne Brody is a rabbinical student at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, CA. A graduate of Wellesley College, Dr. Brody received her PhD in neuroscience from UCSD (The University of California – San Diego), where she did research on the...

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