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What is the source or origin of the custom to dip one's fingers in the wine poured over the candle to extinguish it at the conclusion of Havdalah?

As a side note, and a reason I'm tagging it this way, is that I always joke that it's 'Avodah Zarah (often while actually doing it). It's not ... is it?

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Where does your joke/suspicion come from? – Isaac Moses Dec 6 '11 at 21:18
@IsaacMoses Just the voodoo-y feeling it seems to convey. Also, see my comments on Alex's answer below: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/12057/5 – Seth J Dec 6 '11 at 21:35
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Rema, Orach Chaim 296:1:

גם שופכים מן הכוס לאחר הבדלה ומכבין בו הנר ורוחצים בו עיניו משום חבוב מצוה

"We also pour out [some of the wine] from the cup after havdalah, and extinguish the candle with it, and wash our eyes with it as an expression of love for the mitzvah."

An earlier source is Tur, Orach Chaim 299, citing R. Amram Gaon. So it goes back a long way.

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Alex, how about the ideas that some people have of putting the wine not on their eye(lid)s but eyebrows (or just above them), the backs of their necks, their pockets (for Parnassah), and anywhere they have aches or pains? – Seth J Dec 6 '11 at 21:36
@msh210 Question asked. judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/12061/… – Seth J Dec 7 '11 at 4:30
Alex, is there any indication of a preference for (a) particular finger(s) - eg., pinkies? – Seth J Dec 7 '11 at 4:31
My father who was born in Slovakia to a father who had smicha from the Pressburg Yeshiva, had the custom of dipping pinkies in the havdallah wine and tapping them to his forehead and pants' pockets. He told me that it was in hopes of not having any headaches (physically or spiritually, I presume) and having parnassah throughout the week. He died when I was 15, so I never had a chance to ask him any other details. But if this is what he learned at home, it must have been quite acceptable. – Madeleine Jan 12 '12 at 19:04
@SethJ: it probably belongs more as an answer to the related (spinoff) question. I'll write it up there. – Alex May 17 '12 at 4:24

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