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It seems that a custom exists not to blow out candles/flames, but rather extinguish them another way, such as waving in the air. (Snuffer anyone?) What is the source for this custom? I am including two answers given at ohr.edu, but I am curious if others are available; I'd love to see a textual source for this.

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2 Answers 2

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Two answers from http://ohr.edu/ask_db/ask_main.php/106/Q1/:

  • In the name of Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky (the 'Steipler'): There's an angel whose name is the same as the sound produced when you blow out with force. According to Kabbalistic tradition, it's improper to make use of the names of holy angels. Many people, therefore, extinguish candles by hand in order not to pronounce the name of this angel.

  • The Torah depicts man's soul as being a 'breath' from Hashem. The soul is also compared to a flame. Using your breath to blow out a candle is an ironic gesture, using one 'soul' to extinguish another.

EDIT: there is a source given there, Responsa Rivevot Ephraim IV 45:35 - I'm assuming that is the source for the second answer.

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5  
According to the first reason, would that also apply to blowing at food to cool it off? –  yydl Dec 27 '11 at 23:22
    
@YYDL +1 great point –  Hacham Gabriel Dec 27 '11 at 23:39
1  
I looked for the Rivevos but can't find it. –  sam Jul 2 '12 at 3:49
    
@sam me neither, at least in Hebrewbooks, assuming the sefer I found there is the one they're talking about. –  yitznewton Jul 2 '12 at 14:39

Ben Ish Hai Pinehas Shana Bet 18 (quoting the Arizal's Shaar Ruach Hakodesh), Shalme Hayim 499, Zivhe Sedek 116:74, and HaBayit HaYehudi 10:29:10.

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Thanks - can you elaborate on any reasoning given? I found the Ben Ish Hai, but found it hard to scan through the text there. –  yitznewton Dec 27 '11 at 21:31
    
It looks like the Ben Ish Chai simply says the Ariza"l said not to blow out candles but doesn't say why. –  WAF Dec 27 '11 at 21:58
    
@yitznewton I can't find this in SR"H –  Hacham Gabriel Dec 27 '11 at 22:08
    
If anyone can find this in Shaar Ruah KaDodesh please inform us here. –  Hacham Gabriel Dec 30 '11 at 3:26

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