Why is it that (external winds aside) flames always burn upwards? And why do they flicker or dance?
Both Science and Chassidus each have their explanations:
Science explains that hot air is less dense than cold air, and as the hot air (caused by the heat of the flame) rises upwards the flame rises up with it, with cold air rushing (indiscernibly) to the space vacated or lessened by the hot air.
Chassidus sees it as a tension between the tether of the fuel to the metaphysical flame that yearns for the spiritual ether. The flame is trying to break away and rise higher and higher above but is tied to the wick and fuel, hence its dancing about and rising upwards direction.
Interestingly, both science and Chassidus speak of a tension between two forces that are acting upon each other in a burning candle. One speaks more the language of psychology and mystics, the other speaks of physics and molecules, but they are both about the tension between these opposing properties and forces.
Much of our lives lie inside such tugs and pulls, the tension of human existence, and a great challenge is to properly balance and synthesize these two forces, to live and thrive within that tension and balance. It’s a tough place to be, but that’s where a lot of the magic happens.
One of Lag B’Omer traditions is a bonfire, so we look forward to a firepit event this week, and on the Torah-Tues prior we’re going to play the “Chasynthesis Game” which we devised as a cross between dominoes and apples to apples, as a way to learn about Chassidic paradoxes.