Chanukah: A Journey by Candlelight

Chanukah: A Journey by Candlelight

A Journey by Candlelight

By Srolic Barber

the light of the first night.
I am a boy – too young to be a manyet mine eyes bear witness to more,than a boy should ever understand…

* * *

As the battle rages with untold ferocity

I turn to my feather and quill,

’tis where I can express myself; ’tis where I can be me

For now the enemy hath been kept at bay

but Alas! A stray arrow,

and now doubt shrouds tomorrow’s day

Live I shall live – mine heart yet beats as it bleeds,

it’s the darkness that I fear;

the arrow hath sown the seeds.

That perhaps one morning the sun might awake

to find the moon in distress,

and a frozen darkness in its wake.

That in the bleakest twilight we might forget who we are

our candles be dimmed,

the light now a bridge too far.


by the light of the second night.

I walked by the shore today,

my toes crawling through the sand,

and saw the waves wash my footprints away.

I stood a while and fought the tears;

the waves yet surging forward,

smiling as they confirmed my fears.

If all deeds the wind is bound to scatter,

and with time a legacy shan’t matter,

why then do we roam this land ‘neath our feet

when our footprints will tomorrow be obsolete?


by the light of the third night.

Doth the strain of war breed only mindless legions

or do we yet dream of our aspirations?

Might we a wife, a brother, a life on the outside

or hath our deepest hopes already died?

Are my questions even real or simply born of frustration?

Might they stir a man’s soul

or just his imagination?

I hold to my faith for warmth tonight

but how many dark winters

will faith stand to fight?


by the light of the fourth night.

See the candle and how she doth dance

shy first steps before she takes the chance.

Holding no secret, dispelling all doubt

lighting the world to see what she is all about.

Up and up, she reaches for the sky

so she could be there too; where the sun never says goodbye.

* * *

Tonight is the first night I noticed the lights

there is a brighter glow than the other nights.

I heard them whisper a message from within,

there is more to life; there’s blood ‘neath our skin.

It was down by the campfire where the troops come to chatter

and one wearied warrior spoke how our lives might matter;

that more than just feed to the sword,

we are the children of the Lord.

He told of a purpose to creation,

how we must partner in its preservation;

our deeds carry weight in the bigger picture,

and every step is already the future.

Then silence befell us men

and slowly aware of our Father in heaven,

each avoided the other’s gaze

as we picked through an emotional maze.

[Myself, I looked where the flames leapt from the fire

and watched the shooting sparks slowly expire.

And as they disappeared beyond return

I wondered if they were ever of concern…]


by the light of the fifth night.

On Monday the moon was but a sliver, a slight glint way up in the sky.

On Tuesday she wore a fuller gown, yet still looking rather shy.

On Wednesday I saw clearly as the moon smiled a secret.

On Thursday she waved, and invited me to visit.

Each day we must grow if we will to defeat the night,

it’s what the moon teaches me as I sit up by her light.


by the light of the sixth night.

The candles flicker, trying to escape their wicks.

And though I cannot see from my distance, I know there are six.

For yesterday there were five, but that won’t carry for today;

each night we add a candle, to scurry the darkness away.

* * *

Down by the campfire tonight,

the man spoke this time of our people’s plight.

He reminded us of our duty;

that our sword shall bring security.

His words spoke of conviction and a heart that sees,

beyond the blight of days like these.

He told of better days that were coming;

the final redemption from all our suffering.

And though the waters cometh unto this neck of mine,

I shall walk as King David of once upon a time;

raise my voice in prayer and stave my heart from worry,

be it the deepest ocean,

Still I wait for thee.

And even through the darkest night

where Alas! Nary a man doth search for the light,

my spirit shall not falter as I wait for the sun to break free,

the darkness may be blinding,

Still I wait for thee.

And while the tempest rages about

its blustering winds carving a sliver of doubt.

My mind shall refrain from these thoughts of folly,

though the skies are only grey,

Still I wait for thee.

And in a desert that stretches beyond the horizon

where the sandy floor is my only companion,

and whilst the dry, squalid air gives rise to despondency,

my faith remains unshaken,

Still I wait for thee.

Yet waiting for thee I have been

for a day that I have ne’er known nor seen,

and though skeptics say it is but a story,

by my life I shall swear,

Still I wait for thee.


by the light of the seventh night.

Oh darkness! Hearken ye,

this candle of mine save’th from thee.

By its light I might live,

to see life for what it really is.

I shall learn from its flame

and keep compass in a world insane

Oh darkness! The candle burns bright

Doth thee not tremble by its sight?

With every candle that I light

I chase thee from this winter’s night.

And with every good deed that is done

we leave an imprint ‘neath the sun

Oh darkness! You fool,

for a mere moment shall thee rule.

Though our footprints may yet wash away,

our fingerprints forever stay.

And as each wind help’th the boat set sail,

every good deed doth tip the scale.


by the light of the eighth night.

It’s midnight and the moon hangs stoic in the sky,

the stars glitter beside her

as though painted and left to dry.

If I light a candle it’s light will spread a thousand mile,

one little candle, but it’s message will burn a while.


Srolic Barber, of Sydney, Australia, has studied Rabbinics in Melbourne, Australia; New York; and Caracas, Venezuela. He has engaged in community activism throughout the world and is a freelance writer for Jewish outreach websites. Email: 

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12 years ago

Amazing article, love the choice of words and poetry. Uplifting

12 years ago

very nice…

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