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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 4, 2006 / 6 Iyar, 5766

The Candle That Was Afraid of the Dark

By Paul Wolff


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A deep short story by a master


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The first memory he had was of hands. Large hands. Powerful hands. Yet, with a touch so gentle that he felt completely at ease as he was drawn out of the cauldron and pressed into the shape of a candle.

It was all new and utterly strange as the giant fingers pinched off the end of his wick and lifted him close to the Candlemaker's lips. Then the lips parted and a voice spoke. No, it was more of a whisper, as if the voice were aware that if it spoke any louder the newborn Candle might just shatter and disappear.

The voice was telling the Candle his destiny. His life. The very reason for its being. All his coming joys and sorrows were laid out before the Candle's awareness. The Candle began to protest. "No," he said, "I don't want to go through all that!…Let me stay here with you." The Candlemaker's voice was loving, but awesomely firm. "You must go…" he said. With great sadness the Candle realized that he had no choice but to obey. Then…the Candlemaker whispered the secret.

The secret was so astonishing, so wonderful, so totally unthinkable that a surge of ecstasy shot through the candle leaving him limp and dazed with joy. "Yes," sighed the Candle. "I'll go, I want to go."

Suddenly the Candle began to feel tired. All he wanted was sleep. Slowly, slowly everything began to grow dim. Then, there was silence. Silence. And a sweet and total darkness.

When he awoke he was in a box. Actually, it was a dining room cabinet with big glass windows. The Candle found himself surrounded by dishes and platters and scores of other candles that looked just like him.

Through the window he could see a modest room with a table. The table was covered by a white tablecloth and crowned by two brass candleholders. In the distance he could make out the sound of children laughing and shouting.

It was quiet in the cabinet. Not much happened. Except on Friday afternoons. Then the Mother of the house, a robust-looking Woman with cheerful eyes, would open the cabinet and start to set the table for the Sabbath dinner. On Friday evenings, peace and harmony would reign in the house. The sense of well being was so palpable it was even felt inside the cabinet.

The Candle looked forward to the Sabbath because that was when everyone would be seated around the table. Then he could get a good look at the family. There was a young girl and a boy. The Mother and a frail-looking Father. The Mother and Father appeared to be very much in love.

The Sabbath routine was always the same. The Mother would cook and clean and set a beautiful table.

Everyone would appear in their finest clothing. Then the Mother would reach into the cabinet, take out two candles and light them with a match.

The Candle was fascinated as he watched the gentle swaying of the flames. Their warm glow made him feel connected to the human family and also to something deep inside that he seemed to have forgotten.

Time passed. Sabbaths came and went. Because of his place in the rear of the cabinet, the Candle was never picked when the Woman opened the glass doors. This really bothered the Candle until that fateful day when a new and terrible thought entered his awareness.

It occurred to him that once the Woman took a candle out of the cabinet, it never returned. He realized that the fire, as beautiful as it was, was actually eating those candles! Their wicks burned. Their wax melted. They vanished completely.

A new dread, a new terror gripped the Candle as he realized that his destiny was to be consumed. "I don't want to give myself to the fire." He cried. And that's when he began to think.

Now before this, the Candle only thought when he wanted to. Now he found himself thinking and scheming all the time. And all his thoughts were always the same. "How can I avoid burning?…How can I cheat those devouring flames?"

At last, he came up with a solution. Next to him, in the rear of the cabinet was a pair of carved wooden candleholders. The Woman never touched these. She preferred the brass candleholders that always sat on the table.

Exerting all his will, the Candle managed to press himself against one of the wooden candleholders. Sure enough, the carved wood made a slight groove in its wax. Pressing hard, day and night, the Candle slowly began to take on the shape of a candleholder.

The day of reckoning arrived. As on every other Sabbath, the Woman reached into the front of the cabinet to get two candles. She found only one. The Candle froze with fear as the Woman's hand now reached towards the rear where he was hiding. The hand brushed up against his disguised form and stopped. "What was this?" The Woman wondered. It felt long like a candle but its surface was rough and carved like a candleholder.


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A long moment passed. A moment that felt like years to the Candle. Finally, she gave up. The Woman closed the cabinet and hurried to a friend's house to borrow a candle. The Candle sighed. "No fire is going to get me now," he thought triumphantly. "I'm safe."

And safe he was. Safe to sit and watch as the life of the family passed before his gaze. Hundreds of Sabbaths came and went. There were sad days for the family balanced equally by joyful ones. The children grew and one by one left the house. The Mother's hair turned gray. The Father became more and more frail, until one day he disappeared altogether. Now all that was left in this once vibrant home was a lonely Woman.

Changes had taken place in the Candle as well. For years he had thought that his survival depended upon not looking or feeling anything like a candle. He had focused on this so completely, that he actually came to believe that he was, in fact, a candleholder. He totally forgot who he was and why he was put there in the first place.

More time flew by. More changes. The Woman fell into poverty. She became old and bent and wrinkled. Her once bright eyes were now dim with sadness.

All this the Candle witnessed from his secure perch in the rear of the cabinet. He tried not to think about the Woman's situation. "After all," he reasoned, "it's none of my business. I'm just a candleholder." Yet at special moments, when his guard was down, he couldn't help but feel something for his human neighbor.

This feeling increased when he discovered that time was eroding his body too. His once supple wax had become hard and brittle. Tiny pieces of himself began to chip off and fall away. The very dream of safety that he had imagined for himself began to crumble as well.

So everything had changed. Everything but the Sabbath. On Friday afternoons the Woman would still clean and cook and put on her best clothes. Her old body had very little energy left, but what she had, she gave to the Sabbath. The hidden Candle couldn't help but admire the Woman's unwavering loyalty.

Friday evening came. A bitter cold wind howled outside as the Woman waited for sundown. Just as it began to grow dark, she reached into the cabinet. Her eyes panicked as she groped around inside. All of her candles were gone! Used up. And there were no longer any neighbors to borrow from. A deep sob wracked the old Woman's body as she closed the glass door and walked slowly to the table. She sat down and began to pray.

The sight of the Woman praying in the dark and empty room touched something in the Candle. A deeply buried truth began to rise to the surface. He started to remember his beginnings…The Candlemaker…his whisper…the secret!

Suddenly, spontaneously the Candle burst into flame! The old Woman looked up in amazement as she saw the radiant glow from inside the cabinet. With joyful hands, she took out the shining Candle and sang the ancient blessings.

For his part, the Candle was beyond happiness. Yes, his wick was disappearing. Yes, his wax was melting. But all that was fine. Because he was more than wick. He was more than wax. He was fire. He was one with the light.

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JWR contributor Paul Wolff is a unique figure in the Hollywood community who combined a long career in the Industry with a life of service and spiritual direction. His many credits include: Executive Producer and Co-creator of the Annie McQuire series with Mary Tyler Moore and Little House on the Prairie with Michael Landon. He is currently writing a sitcom and is on the faculty of USC School of Cinema and Television.

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© 2006, Paul Wolff, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Writers Guild of America. Under no circumstance may this story be republished in any form without written permission