This bessamin box, to hold spices for the Havdalah ceremony, honors the holiday of Succoth, thus combining the mitzvot of making Havdalah with that of “sitting in the Sukkah”. Each side features an oval inset of one of the “Four Species” – etrog, willow, palm, and myrtle, in color, with its Hebrew name in gold. Surrounding the ovals are pomegranates or grape leaves, also in gold. Pomegranates and grape leaves are traditional symbols of abundance, and pomegranates particularly represent all 613 mitzvot. Around the base, in golden Hebrew letters, is the latter half of Lev 23:40 “…and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” (Because this was for decorative purposes, the non-sacred spelling of these Names was used).
The entire piece, except for the walnut base, and the bead on top, is constructed of quilled paper, most of it edged with 23k gold. The physics of the paper coils, and the attachment strategy, make this box sturdy and fully functional. The dome on the top, which will receive the most wear, was coated with glaze for extra durability. The entire piece is 7″ tall, and 2 1/4″ square. The top is removable and there is a mesh bag inside to hold spices. The walnut base was created by Mel Turcanik, a Minnesota woodturner and friend.