The Thinking Jew Podcast: Ep. 47 Havdalla: Why We Look At Our Fingernails. By Rabbi Moshe Segal
The Havdala ritual is comprised of making a blessing on a cup of wine, a candle and nice smelling spices. When we make the blessing over the havdala candle, the code of Jewish Law teaches us that we should fold our fingers down over our palms and look at our fingernails and palms. What is the meaning of this custom? Why do we look at them?
Join me as we begin with an explanation from the Mishna and continue going deeper uncovering the source of fire in the Torah, the kabbalistic meaning of fingernails and its relevant message to us today.
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Basic text of Havdala Service – https://www.sefaria.org/Siddur_Ashkenaz%2C_Shabbat%2C_Havdalah?lang=bi
Mishna, Berachos 8:6, can’t make blessing on fire unless benefitting from it – https://www.sefaria.org/Mishnah_Berakhot.8.6?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en
Talmud Bavli, Berachos 53b, benefit from light to distinguish between an issur and pundyon – https://www.sefaria.org/Berakhot.53b.10?lang=bi
Picture of a pundyon and issur, pg. 2 – https://tinyurl.com/pundyonisur
Tur, Orach Chaim, 298, distinguishing between fingernails and palm is the same as the two coins – https://www.sefaria.org/Tur%2C_Orach_Chaim.298.1?lang=bi
Jerusalem Talmud, Berachos 60b, story of Adam and fire on Saturday night – https://www.sefaria.org/Jerusalem_Talmud_Berakhot.60b?lang=bi
Bereishis Rabba 11:2, similar story as above – https://www.sefaria.org/Bereishit_Rabbah.11.2?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en
Pirkei DiRebbi Eliezer, Ch. 14:3, Adam was initially covered with a nail-like skin and lost it after he sinned – https://www.sefaria.org/Pirkei_DeRabbi_Eliezer.14.3?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en
Kol Bo, 41:13, Adam saw after Shabbos that only his fingernails remained from his initial state so we look at them at havdala – https://www.sefaria.org/Kol_Bo.41.13?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en