Friday, January 18, 2008

Question & Answer With Rabbi Tal Zwecker & Space Cadet - "Dark Candle"

(Painting by Zvi Malnowitzer)

A Simple Jew asks:

The highlight of my three year-old's week is "dark candle"; the conclusion of Havdala where the candle is extinguished into the grape juice. While this is done to show that the candle was only lit of the purpose of the mitzvah, my five year-old daughter insists that there is another reason. It seems to me that she is right and there must be some teaching in Chassidus that explains the symbolism of a flame being extinguished by wine (or in my case grape juice). To you knowledge, is there any deeper mystical explanation for this practice?

Rabbi Tal Zwecker answers:

I saw in Tamei HaMinhagim Shabbos 417 that the Shela HaKodesh says that women do not drink from Havdala because, according to one opinion of the Sages, the fruit that Adam ate from was grapes which were squeezed into wine by Chava and given to him. Since she sought to separate from Adam through this act, women atone by not drinking the wine of Havdalah.

Chava is said to have put out the candle of the world. This refers to Adam who shined brightly before the sin. Perhaps we extinguish the Havdala flame in the wine symbolically saying, Chava extinguished the candle of the world (Adam) by using wine, however we will make a tikkun and extinguish this candle only in act of kedusha."

A Simple Jew asks:

Space Cadet, in your sojourns in the Grekkov Forest have you discovered any other mystical explanations for this practice?

Space Cadet answers:

Here in the Grekkov Wilds, we use mead (Yiddish: mehd), not wine. Grapes are scarce, and mead qualifies as chamer medinah. (It is also a "minhag Baal Shem Tov.") But if we had any wine, we would use it, because it is min hamuvchar.

Grapes represent the Pri Etz HaDaas (as in the kavannos of Kiddush), and fire was invented on motza'ei Shabbos and also represents the spiritual decline of Adam. Just as his garments of light turned to garments of skin, the luminaries of light (me'orei ohr) turned to luminaries of fire (me'orei aish). So I would guess that extinguishing the Havdalah candle in the spilled wine represents some sort of hamtakah or tikkun for the banishment from Eden and accompanying fall in human consciousness.

Come to think of it, this may be why we don't need wine out here in Grekkov -- because, ASJ, this is "back to Eden!"

(Well, at least as long as there is enough wood for the wood stove...)


At January 18, 2008 at 9:34:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Space Cadet -
Where do you get mead from? I have wanted to try it for a long time. Do you make it yourself?

At January 18, 2008 at 1:07:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in the wild, we make our own, according to a secret recipe known to the Chassidic hermits of Grekkov.

However, when I lived in New York many years ago, I used to buy "honey wine" from Kedem or a similar product from Eretz Yisrael. They taste almost the same. Ask your local kosher wine seller.

At January 22, 2008 at 10:18:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you.


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