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I know that Havdalah candles are supposed to have multiple wicks, in order to form a "torch". My question is, to what extent do the flames generated from the wicks need to work together to form a stronger, torch-like flame? Do the flames need to join into one, or can they merely push against each other and make each other rise higher?

I've seen this happen with a double-wicked candle in which, it seems, the wicks are too far apart to share one flame, but the flames nevertheless interact and push each other higher and burn brighter. Not only that, but when one wick is lit, it will spread to the other (that's how close the wicks are), even though they will still not share the same flame.

  • I sometimes see this problem with the six-wick ones when they've burned down a fair bit. The outer ones sometimes have trouble "joining up". – Monica Cellio Oct 24 '17 at 2:54
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Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 298:4) writes:

וכן אם (ב' נרות של שמן או של שעוה וחלב מקורבים זה לזה עד שאורותיהם מדובקים יחד הרי זו אבוקה שהרי יש כאן ריבוי מאורות ביחד אבל אם אין אורותיהם מדובקים יחד הרי כל נר נחשב בפני עצמו אע"פ שהם מקורבים זה לזה אלא אם כן) קלע ב' נרות של שעוה זה על גבי זה ועשאן נר אחד (שאז) דינם כאבוקה (אף אם אין אורותיהם מדובקים יחד כיון שעשאן כעין גוף אחד אין כל אחד נחשב בפני עצמו).‏

And so too if (2 oil candles or wax/tallow candles are placed next to each other until their flames become attached to each other, this is considered a torch, because there is here a multitude of lights together. However, if their flames are attached to each other, then each candle is considered separately even though they are near each other, unless) he twisted 2 wax candles together and made them one candle (which then) they have the law of a torch (even if their flames are not attached to each other, since he made them like one body they are not considered separately).

Thus, if the candles are separate, the flames must join into one. If they are twisted together (as is common with "Havdalah Candles" sold in stores these days), the flames need not be connected, since they are already one body.

  • What about with Chanukah candles? If they share an oil source and/or are touching they are called a torch. Would that count as a kosher havdalah flame? – ezra Oct 24 '17 at 1:42
  • @ezra Yes. See just above the part I quote in Shulchan Aruch Harav. – Ploni Oct 24 '17 at 1:43

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