Thursday, January 15, 2009

Handedness and Havdalah


The following issue may seem, to some, like an over-ritualization - but I view it as an attempt to sensitize us to the honor due to mitzvot.

The right hand is generally considered the more "honored" of one's two hands. Therefore, one should hold the cup of wine in his right hand throughout Kiddush.

One only transfers the cup to his left in order to hold the spices in his right hand during the blessing on the spices, and to look at his fingernails during (and immediately after) the blessing on the flame.

A left-handed person would reverse all of the instructions above.

One should avoid putting the cup down at all during Havdalah, since all of the blessings are meant to be recited over the cup.

(Code of Jewish Law Orach Chaim 296:6; Mishneh Berurah 206:18; 296:29-31)

Have a great day,


  1. Good morning,

    When it comes to looking at one's fingernails, is it important to look at the fingernails on both hands, i.e., must one pass the cup back and forth between the hands in order to look at both hands' fingernails?

  2. Hi Michael,

    I hope to get to this issue of looking at fingernails within our broader topic, but to give you a brief answer: No, one hand suffices.