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First Candles – A poem for Parsha Vayakhel

Candle one of the first Menorah that we built at the foot of the mountain is for everywhere our feet stepped before.
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March 7, 2024
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And he made the menorah of pure gold; of hammered work he made the menorah, its base and its stem, its goblets, its knobs, and its flowers were [all one piece] with it. ~Exodus 37:17

Candle one of the first Menorah that we
built at the foot of the mountain is for
everywhere our feet stepped before.
The memory of our history, rooted in our toes.

Candle two of the Menorah, not the Hanukkiah
which is a menorah, but not The Menorah
is for the people who made it, the ones whose
eyes remembered Egypt better than we could
even though we are told we were there.

Candle three of the Menorah is for the Mountain itself.
There are mountains all over the world, but this is the one
we capitalize, to never forget what we did there
even though the exact location is up for debate.

Candle four of the Menorah, skipping over the
center candle, I promise, we’ll get back to it,
is for our immediate next steps. Our feet may
remember the past, but forty years of wandering
will teach us things we’d never learn if we
walked across the river early.

Candle five of the Menorah, we can already see the end,
is for the place we went. Our promised home. Where we
started before the narrow place diversion We may be
setting up shop anew when our heels touch its sand
but we were there before and the land never forgets.

Candle six of the Menorah, we’re about to fall off the edge,
is for ourselves, or God, or trying to tell the difference
between the two. We were made in an Image we spend
so many years trying to live up to. We fail over and over
and still get the credit for looking the way we do.
We are who we are – Lights made by a Light.

The candle in the middle, I told you we’d get here,
is for our light – The light that beams out of our
foreheads and feet, that reflects off our toenails,
that shows the way to anyone who perceives light,
that reminds us the people we illuminate have their own light.
Sometimes it shines brighter than ours.
We’re okay with that.


Rick Lupert, a poet, songleader and graphic designer, is the author of 27 books including “God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion.” Find him online at www.JewishPoetry.net

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