The Mitzvah of Havdalah Part II

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January 31 2007
Last week's issue provided on overview of the mitzvah of Havdalah. The article discussed whether Havdalah is a part of the mitzvah of zechirat Shabbat or whether it is its own unique mitzvah. In this week's issue, we will discuss the components of the Havdalah service.

The Requirement to Use Wine
As discussed in last week's issue, there is a requirement to use a cup of wine for Havdalah. This requirement is rabbinic in nature. The Gemara, Pesachim 107a, discusses whether one can fulfill the mitzvah of Havdalah by using other beverages in place of wine. According to Rambam, Hilchot Shabbat 29:17, one may not use other beverages for Kiddush but one may use them for Havdalah. Ran, however, Pesachim 22a, s.v. Bat, rules that one should only use other beverages for Havdalah if there is no wine available.

Rama, Orach Chaim 296:2, presents two seemingly contradictory rulings on this matter. First, Rama rules that if one has a choice of using wine from a "blemished" cup or using beer, he should use the wine from the blemished cup. [A cup of wine is considered pagum if someone already drank from that cup.] This implies that one should only use other beverages if there is no wine available. Second, Rama rules that it has become a tradition to recite Havdalah at the conclusion of Pesach on beer because at that time it is a special beverage. This implies that one may recite Havdalah on other beverages even when wine is available.

Magen Avraham 296:5, resolves the apparent discrepancy by suggesting that in principle, Rama allows the use other beverages for Havdalah. However, not all beverages qualify for use for Havdalah. Rambam, op. cit., states that only chamar medinah, a beverage that serves as a replacement for wine in a particular locale, may be used. Rama's first ruling refers to a locale where beer is not the chamar medinah. In that place, it is certainly preferable to use wine from a blemished cup. Rama's ruling regarding the conclusion of Pesach refers to a locale where beer is the chamar medinah. [R. Moshe Feinstein, Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim 2:75, rules that one may not recite Havdalah on soft drinks. Although they are served at formal meals, they are not considered significant since they are only drunk when one is thirsty.]

The Spices
The Mishna, Berachot 51b, mentions the concept of reciting a beracha on spices during the Havdalah service. According to Beit Hillel, which is the normative opinion, the beracha on the spices precedes the beracha on the flame. Tosafot, Beitzah 33b, s.v. Ki, note that the reason for smelling spices on Motza'ei Shabbat is that on Motza'ei Shabbat one experiences the loss of the neshama yeteirah (the additional soul) and the spices serve to restore the body to normal. For this reason, Tosafot suggest that if Yom Tov occurs on Motza'ei Shabbat, it is not necessary to smell spices because the additional food items that are eaten on Yom Tov have the same effect as the spices. Additionally, at the conclusion of Yom Tov, one does not smell spices because there is no loss of the neshama yeteirah.

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 217:2, states that one only recites a beracha on a fragrant item if it is generally used for producing a good smell (as opposed to deodorizing a foul smell). If an item qualifies for recitation of a beracha, one may use that spice during the Havdalah service. However, there are numerous berachot that are applicable to spices depending on various factors, similar to the laws of berachot on food items. Mishna Berurah 297:1, rules that in order not to create confusion, at Havdalah, one should always recite the beracha of "borei minei besmamim" regardless of whether that is its proper beracha. Nevertheless, he notes that it is proper to use a spice whose actual beracha is borei minei besamim (a spice whose beracha would be shehakol if it were a food item).

The Beracha on the Flame
The Gemara, Pesachim 54a, notes that there is an important distinction between the beracha recited on the flame of Motza'ei Shabbat and the beracha recited on the flame of Motza'ei Yom Kippur. The beracha on the flame of Motza'ei Shabbat is a function of fire being created on Motza'ei Shabbat and therefore, a flame that was lit after the conclusion of Shabbat is suitable. Regarding the flame of Motza'ei Yom Kippur, the only justification to recite a beracha on a flame is to signify the fact that this flame lasted the entire Yom Kippur and was not used for any melacha. As such, one may not light a flame after Yom Kippur and recite a beracha.

The Gemara, Berachot 53b, states that if one does not have a flame available for Havdalah, one is not required to search for one. Rashba, ad loc., cites the opinion of Ra'avad that this is only true on Motza'ei Shabbat when the purpose of the beracha is merely to commemorate the creation of a flame. However, on Motza'ei Yom Kippur, the purpose of the beracha is to show the difference between Yom Kippur and other days and therefore, one must seek out a flame for the beracha.

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 298:1, quotes the opinion of Ra'avad as a single viewpoint (yesh mi she'omer) implying that other Rishonim disagree. Ramban, Berachot ad loc., seems to represent the dissenting opinion. Ramban implies that on Shabbat, one may either recite a beracha on a flame that was not used for melacha the entire Shabbat or one may light a new light as a commemoration for the creation of the flame. According to Ramban, there is nothing unique about Yom Kippur other than its limitation to recite a beracha on a new light. If there is no requirement to search for a flame on Shabbat, there should be no requirement to search for a flame on Yom Kippur.

R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Me'orei Eish, ch. 5, presents two objections to the use of an incandescent bulb for the beracha of borei me'orei ha'eish. Both objections are based on the idea that the purpose of the beracha is to commemorate the creation of the flame. First, the Gemara, Berachot 53, implies that a fire that produces light is not sufficient to recite a beracha. One must recite a beracha on an actual flame. R. Auerbach suggests that the reason for this requirement is that the light used for the beracha must be similar to that of the flame that was created on Motza'ei Shabbat. An incandescent bulb, which does not have a flame, would not meet this requirement.

Second, the Talmud Yerushalmi, Berachot 60b, states that one may not recite a beracha on a flame that is inside an enclosed glass. R. Auerbach notes that one can argue that the exclusion of a light inside an enclosed glass does not apply to a light bulb because the light bulb cannot illuminate without the glass case. However, R. Auerbach argues that since the reason for this exclusion is that the beracha must be recited on a situation similar to the flame that was created on Motza'ei Shabbat, it is more logical to exclude an incandescent bulb from a beracha.

R. Auerbach admits that if the objection to the use of incandescent bulbs for the flame of Havdalah is that they are not similar to the flame of creation, then on Yom Kippur, these objections should not apply. Furthermore, according to Ramban, who implies that a flame that was not used for melacha warrants a beracha, if an incandescent bulb was lit for the entire Shabbat, one would be permitted to recite a beracha. However, R. Auerbach notes that since we don't find a distinction between the type of flame that may be used on Motza'ei Shabbat and Motza'ei Yom Kippur, nor do we find any distinction regarding flames enclosed in glass, one must conclude that the beracha was not instituted unless the flame meets the requirements that would fulfill either reason (with the one exception being a new flame).


References: Pesachim: 107a  

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