1. Can one use besamim/potpourri for Havdalah that one previously used for the bathroom? Why not?
a. No, since these were designated products to
bad odors and not
a pleasant aroma.
2. May one use incense sticks sold by religious non-Jews on the street for Havdalah?
a. Yes, since they are sold by merchants to the greater public and not exclusively for avoda zora usage.
3. Why do some people use hadasim/myrtle for besamim?
a. To follow the principle to ‘recycle items used previously for mitzvos.’ The hadasim were taken from the lulav and crushed up for besamim.
4. What if the hadasim are dry and odorless? Should one still use them?
a. In that case, it’s best to mix them up with regular besamim.
5. What did
Tosafist; 12th century; student of Rabbeinu Tam
) use for besamim? Why did he exclusively use a glass container? What should we do?
a. He used regular besamim but used a glass container to insure its fragrant value and to avoid any pungent metallic ill smell mix with the besamim.
6. If someone lost his sense of smell, can they make a bracha? What if he merely has a cold?
a. No he cannot. If one has a cold he should determine if he still has an occasional sense of smell he can make a bracha.
7. If someone can’t smell can they still make Havdalah for another person?
a. No he cannot. If one is patur, absolved from the mitzvah, he cannot project for another person’s obligation.
8. Why do some people make their own bracha on besamin and ner even if they hear from the mavdil? Is this correct behavior?
a. This is incorrect. One should listen attentively to the mavdil’s entire havdalah recitation.
9. Under what circumstances would a person make his own bracha on besamim and ner?
a. If he was unable to smell it during the havdalah service (e.g. out of reach) or he was too far from the flame to enjoy its benefits.
10. When is one permitted to make bircas besamim even if one can’t smell? Would another person be yotzeh with that bracha?
a. To be motzei a minor, for training purposes only. Another adult listening to this bracha will not be yotzei.
11. Why do we make a bracha on fire during havdalah? If so, why motzei yom kippur?
a. Fire was “discovered” by Adam on Saturday night, so we celebrate its benefits then. Because yom kippur is similar to shabbos insofar that we cannot use fire even to cook and unlike other holidays where permissible.
12. If one has no fire should he proceed with havdalah? How long does he have to make the bracha?
a. Yes since it is “only” a custom. The entire Saturday night, until
13. If one forgot the bircas ner and reminded himself prior to drinking the wine, what to do?
a. He should recite the blessing right then (before drinking) since all components of havdalah should be recited “over the cup.”
Have a wonderful shabbos!
See you in shul,
Rabbi Aaron D. Mehlman
Erev shabbos kodesh Bo 5779