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  • Writer's pictureLeann Shamash

The Light

Full disclosure....I wrote this poem on Leviticus 24:2, on the eternal light, and it is only now, as I am finalizing the draft, that I realize that the reference to the eternal light appears first in the book of Exodus, in Exodus 27:20-21.

My original thought about this poem regarded synagogues and the Ner Tamid, its positioning in the building, how it was placed there and how it is sometimes overlooked over time because it is always there and we often forget to see what is always in front of our eyes. So, this poem is about the small light, the eternal light, what it means and how it is seen.

The Light

I wonder

about that one small light;

the eternal light.

A tiny flicker

burning both inward and outward.

A burning bush in miniature

there for us

to notice

its beckoning glow.

I wonder about that one small light,

that eternal light

of hope,

of belief in something better.

Did my father see it

wavering through the trees

when he hid

in that dark and cold forest?

Did they see it in the campfires

as they sought to flee


those who had forgotten all about light?

I wonder about those who perished

Al Kiddush HaShem

So many, like the thousands of sparks that

escape the conflagration

and float up to nothingness.

Such devotion

with a fire that burned within them.

Did they see

one small light

up above

as they closed their eyes

one final time?

Did it guide them

to a light,

larger and brighter

than a thousand suns,

now that they had completed

the ultimate sacrifice ?

I wonder if a small quivering light

is seen by those who have lost hope

Is there A Guide for them to locate it,

for it is right there?

It must be

either to the left

or to the right.

Don't stop searching.

I wonder what we see when we look inward?

Can we find the light within us?

Do we seek the light or does it seek us?

Can we brighten it with our thoughts

or dim it with our doubts?

I wonder what others see in that small light

never changing,

or always changing....

burning calm and still.

Painters and loners,

gleaners and chefs,

aunts and nephews,

freedom fighters and tax collectors,

senators and artists,

poor and rich?

The person buying a lottery ticket,

the man pumping gas,

the girl through the window on the train?

The blind,

the beautiful,

the maimed,

the farmer,

the toddler,

your best friend,

the asylum seeker?

And you, of course.

What is your light?

Do you see?


Is it a flickering candle

or is a blazing fire?

Or is it the

light in your eyes

reflected onto others

that helps to light their way?

Keep looking for the light.

Never give up.

וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהֹוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃

יהוה spoke to Moses, saying:

צַ֞ו אֶת־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְיִקְח֨וּ אֵלֶ֜יךָ שֶׁ֣מֶן זַ֥יִת זָ֛ךְ כָּתִ֖ית לַמָּא֑וֹר לְהַעֲלֹ֥ת נֵ֖ר תָּמִֽיד׃

Command the Israelite people to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly.

Leviticus 24:2

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