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This past motzei Shabbos, in the Shul where I davened, there were a number of young men who were lining up to be included in the communal havdallah done at the end of Maariv. The person making havdallah made the beracha on the besamim and then passed the besamim around for the assembled to smell it. However, before it had made it all the way around, he continued on to the beracha on the candle light, to which they needed to respond amen and to use the light. Some of them, as far as I could tell, had not yet gotten the besamim by the time havdallah was over.

Did those who did not smell the besamim before answering amen to other berachos, and holding their hands up to the candle light, make an interruption which invalidated their inclusion in the beracha on the besamim? If this does work, why is it not an interruption?

  • I know what is supposed to be done is smell besamim after havdala is over....but I forgot where I saw this.... – Shokhet Sep 8 '14 at 2:51
  • @Shokhet that's what they did. I am wondering if/why this works. Sounds like you are saying it does, so (assuming you are correct) that limits the question to why. – Y     e     z Sep 8 '14 at 2:54
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    I still can't prove that it is correct....so finding out that (all right, if) I'm correct is still part of the question. – Shokhet Sep 8 '14 at 2:56
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    You can say Havdalla even without spices or a candle. What did you mean by "...still fulfill their havdallah obligation"? – Double AA Sep 8 '14 at 3:21
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    @YEZ Definitely not. All you need is a Kos. Besamim and Ner can be done any time on Saturday night, though they are traditionally said together with the Kos (See Shulchan Arukh OC 298 or so). But you don't need to know that to ask your question. I just didn't know what you meant. Now I do :) – Double AA Sep 8 '14 at 17:44
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The principle at work here is shome'a ka'one (listening is like speaking), Sukkah 38b. The people should have the intention to fulfill their obligation through the leader and the leader should have the intention to fulfill their obligation as well. The listeners must hear the entire blessing and after the blessings respond with Amen and they are yotze. Whether or not there is an interruption in some cases is an argument between Rashi in Sukkah 38b and Tosfot in Brachot 21b, and this might differ on your local accepted posek.
Yalkut Yosef 216.8 sites an example where it would be an interruption if they added passages after the blessing of besamim but before smelling and 297.6 where it explains it is forbidden to speak during havdala.

Generally if they did not speak and waiting for the opportunity to smell the besamim even tough they said amen to the next blessing there is no interruption because their obligation is already fulfilled through the leader. An example of this is Yalkut Yosef 295.3 where the leader is the person responsible to drink the wine after havdala and the people fulfill their obligation after the leader drinks the required amount.

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I believe that brachot that require an action following it cannot be interrupted, except for things that are needed to fulfill that action. This is true for the person making the blessing as well as those who answer "Amen" to become part of it.

For example, if the mavdil (person making havdallah) interrupted between the bracha and smelling the spices, the fact that everyone answered "amen" would be invalidated in your being motzi in the bracha, b/c the mavdil would have to make a new bracha, anyway.

In this case, this is a bracha for which the action of the mavdil cannot exempt you from performing the same action. I.e. - it's not like Kiddush where you don't have to drink the wine, also to be yotzei Kiddush. You have to smell the besamim, yourself. Thus, if you answer "amen" to the candle's bracha, you have interrupted your besamim bracha, which means you would need to make your own. Had you not answered, "Amen", to the 2nd bracha, you'd be fine, except, possibly, if it takes a long time between the bracha and the time you smell the besamim. I don't know, offhand what that time limit is, but, in typical cases, unless you're at a huge "Carlebach style" Havdallah with hundreds of people, I don't think you'd exceed the time limit, anyway.

  • "For example, if the mavdil (person making havdallah) interrupted between the bracha and smelling the spices, the fact that everyone answered "amen" would be invalidated in your being motzi in the bracha, b/c the mavdil would have to make a new bracha, anyway." I'm not sure if this is true in your case, but your rule is definitely not true. It is possible for someone to be motzi someone else in a bracha without being yotzei himself. – Daniel Jul 7 '15 at 12:22
  • "In this case, this is a bracha for which the action of the mavdil cannot exempt you from performing the same action." Why do you say this? "I don't know, offhand what that time limit is, but, in typical cases, unless you're at a huge "Carlebach style" Havdallah with hundreds of people, I don't think you'd exceed the time limit, anyway." Why do you say this? – Daniel Jul 7 '15 at 12:25
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Being as it is a birchas hanehenin there is a definite hefsek and they were forbidden to smell without new bracha. see שולחן או''ח ס' רטז and see משנה ברורה סיף א source is from גמרא ברכות דף מג that states just like one must make a blessing on food so to on a good smell. see שולחן ערוך ס'רו סיף ג that there must not be any interruption between the blessing and what you are making the blessing for (eat, drink, smell)

  • Since the vast majority of us don't know you, we have no reason to take your word on this. So you'd do well to edit into your answer a source for its claim. – msh210 Dec 7 '15 at 4:38
  • @msh210 And if we knew him, we wouldn't ask for a source? – Lee Apr 5 '16 at 10:22
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    @Lee, sorry, I shoulda said "don't know who you are". If I knew he was a great posek, I'd likely not ask for a source. – msh210 Apr 5 '16 at 12:59
  • @msh210 B"H MiYodeya will see the day that great poseqim are among its users! – Lee Apr 5 '16 at 13:00

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