כ״ז בתשרי ה׳תשע״ד (October 1, 2013)

Pesaḥim 103a-b: Combining Kiddush with Havdala

As we learned in the last daf, when Yom Tov begins on Saturday night we combine the havdala that ends Shabbat with the Kiddush that begins Yom Tov over a single cup of wine. The discussion on our daf deals with the order of the various berakhot that will make up this combination of Kiddush and havdala. When will the blessing be made over the wine? Over the candle? Over the spices?

There are certain basic differences of opinion that form the basis for the variety of opinions that we find regarding this issue. Among the disagreements are the following:
Which should be recited first – Kiddush or havdala?
What is the relationship between the wine and the mitzva of Kiddush (i.e. does the blessing over the wine come before or after the Kiddush)?
When should the blessing over the candle be made? Can it only be made after havdala, or, perhaps, it can be made beforehand?

It is the combination of these positions that give us a wide variety of opinions about appropriate behavior in this situation.

Rabbi Yehuda explains a disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel on this subject as relating to the order of the blessings made over the candle and the spices during havdala. According to Beit Shammai we first make the blessing over the candle. According to Beit Hillel we first make the blessing over the spices. One explanation for the different positions is that Beit Shammai believes that one derives benefit from light at the moment that the candle is lit. Furthermore, the sense of sight is more essential and important that the sense of smell. Beit Hillel, on the other hand, perceives the sense of smell to be similar to taste, in that both of them involve a sensation based on a substance entering the body. With this understanding, it makes sense to connect the blessing over the spices (smell) with the blessing over the wine (taste).

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