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Shabbat Prayers: Havdalah & Torah

I share with you the first entry in a notebook I began in 1967 (which was the beginning of the Avodas Hashem Notebooks), writing down every important idea I learned from my father zt”l: We were about to make Havdalah and it was my turn, after a fight with one of my sisters, to hold the candle. My father asked me, “Do you know why we use a candle for Havdalah?”


I proudly offered what my sister Aviva had taught me that it was to recreate the first artificial flame that God gave to Adam and Eve after the first Shabbat when they experienced darkness for the first time and thought that the world was ending because of their sins.

“Very good,” he said, “but, there’s more! It’s to teach you to not fight with your sister!”

“The Talmud teaches that one must have Da’at, basic knowledge to know how to separate between good and evil. Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of Da’at, Knowledge of Good and Evil and they had to learn how to separate. They were scared that without any light they would sin more and destroy the world. Hashem taught them that we can use Him to create light and know how to act. That’s why the Havdalah is added to the blessing of Da’at. You will have to learn how to light a candle that will illuminate your mind to separate between good and evil. We use the light of the candle to see the world only through the light of a Mitzvah.”

“Do you think when you fight with your sister that you are doing something bad? Don’t you believe that you are right and that she is the one doing something wrong?”

(That was obvious and accurate.)

“Let’s say you first looked with the light of Torah at your actions before you acted; don’t you think you might act differently?”

I let my sister hold the candle. (August 19, 1967)

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