Havdala Spice Container, 1998, sterling silver, 24k gold overlay and Zelkova wood, 6.5x6x2.75 inches
My design is a modern interpretation of the "castle towers" of many traditional Havdalah spice containers, which effectively allude to the precious nature of spices.
The perforations, highlighted by 24k gold strips, spell out the Hebrew consonants and vowels of the word besamim (spices), if appropriately linked. My intention was to add a touch of mystery to the proceedings; hence the lettering is far from obvious.
This is a piece that is meant to be handled rather than simply seen, and its hemispherical bottom requires it to be inserted into the base when at rest. Its rounded smoothness is designed to offer tactile pleasure as the container is passed from left hand to right hand during the ceremony, whose very purpose is to offer sensual compensations for the loss of the Sabbath.
What inspired me to make this piece is a fascination with the tensions of the Havdalah ceremony, that demarcates the sacred from the profane, light and darkness, and spiritual satisfactions from material ones, notably the fragrant aroma of the spices which according to the Talmud (Ta'anit 27b) is meant to gladden the soul even as it is being "diminished" by the passing of the Sabbath, during which the Jews have an "additional soul" (Neshama Yetera).