He Might Extinguish It
‘A Torch Is The Best Way
Of Performing The Mitzvah’
Rava says that it is preferable to perform havdalah with an avukah, a torch (with several wicks), rather than with a candle with a single wick. (Generally, the havdalah candles in use nowadays are multi-wick candles and satisfy this optimal requirement.)
The Ran (103b ad loc.) explains that this is because the text of the blessing reads “borei me’orei ha’esh – who creates the lights of the flame.” The Ran explains that the plural “me’orei” refers to the many lights (colors) of a flame. Since the various colors of the flame are more noticeable in a torch, it is preferable to recite the blessing of “me’orei ha’esh” over a torch.
Two Individual Candles
The Magen Avraham (Orach Chayim 298:4) maintains that if a person uses two individual candles for havdalah, he must hold them so that their flames merge into one large flame.
R. Akiva Eger (in his glosses in the margin ad loc.), citing the Orach Mishor (mahadura bathra to Yoreh De’ah 433), asserts that two individual candles are considered a torch even if their flames do not touch.
Devar Shmuel (ad loc.) notes that the Orach Mishor opts for the view of the Shittah Mekubbetzes on Tractate Berachos in the name of the Rabad who explains that me’orei means that the flame has many uses. This meaning can possibly be applied to single-wick flames as well.
Yom Tov And Motzei Shabbos
When Yom Tov falls on Motzei Shabbos, the havdalah (and the blessing on light/fire) is incorporated in the Yom Tov Kiddush. The Elef HaMagen (on Matteh Ephraim 600:3) states that although we do not kindle a special havdalah torch on Yom Tov, one should hold two Yom Tov candles together when reciting the berachah of “borei me’orei ha’esh” (during Kiddush) in order to conform with Rava’s requirement of using a torch for havdalah.
Some authorities (Minhagei Chabad, found at the end of Shulchan Aruch HaRav, and Shemirath Shabbath Kehilchatah, vol 2., 62-18:32), however, do not permit holding two candles together on Yom Tov (because disengaging the two flames might violate the melachah of kibbui – extinguishing – which is forbidden on Yom Tov). They maintain that when Yom Tov falls on Motzei Shabbos, havdalah should be recited on two candles that are not held together.
About the Author: RABBI YAAKOV KLASS, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.
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