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How Close Must One Be to the Habdallah Candle?

Daily Halacha with Rabbi Gidon Ben Moshe:

(Rabbi Gidon Ben Moshe, one of the foremost contemporary Poskim in Israel, heads a Kollel devoted to the study of Hoshen Mishpat.)

The Hachamim instituted reciting the Beracha of “Boreh Meoreh HaEsh” when benefiting from fire on Mosa’eh Shabbat. Unlike other Berachot which are recited every time one benefits, the Beracha on fire is only said on Mosa’eh Shabbat. The reason is that fire was first discovered by Adam on the first Mosa’eh Shabbat, after being expelled from Gan Eden. It was then that Hashem gave him the insight to rub two stones together and create a flame. Therefore, the Hachamim instituted this Beracha exclusively for Mosa’eh Shabbat.

It is preferable to recite this Beracha on the flame of a torch-i.e. a candle that has multiple wicks, all connected by one flame.

There is one Halacha concerning this Beracha that many people are not aware of. One must be close enough to the flame to be able to derive tangible benefit from its light. If a person is so far away that he merely sees the flame, but if the lights were turned off, the candle would not benefit him, he cannot fulfill his obligation in this Beracha.

There are two definitions as to how close he must be. The first is to be close enough to distinguish between the fingernails and the flesh of the finger. The second is to distinguish between two similar coins.

This is particularly applicable to women who hear Habdallah recited by the Rav or Hazzan from the Ezrat Nashim. They are generally too far away to fulfill the Misva. The best solution would be to bring a special candle to them so that they will be close enough. Alternatively, they could recite the Beracha on a candle when they return home.

SUMMARY
One must be close enough to the Habdallah candle to derive benefit from its light.

 


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