Holidays / Havdalah / Havdalah Readings / Havdalah Ritual

Havdalah Ritual

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The Havdalah service marks the end of Shabbat. It should be performed no earlier than nightfall on Saturday night. Nightfall is the time when three stars can be seen in the sky. It is normally about 45 minutes to an hour after sundown, depending on your latitude. For the precise time when Shabbat ends in your area, consult the list of candle lighting times provided by the Orthodox Union.

You will need three things for this ritual: a glass of wine or other liquid, some fragrant spices, and a special Havdalah candle.

P’ri Hagafen: Wine

The first of the four havdalah blessings is made over wine or another liquid. If wine or grape juice is not used, you should substitute shehakol nih’yeh bid’varo (by whose will all things come to be) for borei p’ri hagafen (who creates the fruit of the vine).

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melech ha’olam

Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe

(if using wine or grape juice)

borei p’ri hagafen (Amen)

Who creates the fruit of the vine (Amen)

(if using other liquids)

shehakol nih’yeh bid’varo (Amen)

Who made all things exist through His word (Amen)

B’samim: Spices

The second blessing is recited over fragrant spices. The spices represent a compensation for the loss of the special sabbath spirit. The spices commonly used are cloves, cinnamon or bay leaves. They are commonly kept in a special decorated holder called a b’samim box.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melech ha’olam

Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe,

borei minei v’samim (Amen)

Who creates varieties of spices (Amen)

Eish: Fire

The third blessing is recited over the special, multi-wicked Havdalah candle. Havdalah candles can be obtained from Jewish gift stores. If you cannot obtain a Havdalah candle, you can hold two candles close together, so their flames overlap. I have also used party candles (long, very thin candles) that I warmed up and twisted together.

Lighting a flame is a vivid way of marking the distinction between the sabbath and the weekday, because we cannot kindle a flame on the sabbath.

After the blessing is recited, hold your hands up to the flame with curved fingers, so you can see the shadow of your fingers on your palms. This is done because it would be improper to recite a blessing for something and then not use the thing.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melech ha’olam

Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe

borei m’orei ha’eish (Amen)

Who creates the light of the fire (Amen)

Havdalah: Separation

The final blessing is the havdalah blessing itself, the blessing over the separation of different things. The blessing is recited over the wine. After the blessing is complete, drink the wine. A few drops of wine are used to extinguish the flame from the candle.

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melech ha’olam

Blessed are You, God, Spirit of the Universe

hamav’dil bein kodesh l’chol

Who separates between sacred and secular

bein or l’choshekh bein Yis’ra’eil la’amim

between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations

bein yom hash’vi’i l’sheishet y’mei hama’aseh

between the seventh day and the six days of labor

Baruch atah Adonai

Blessed are You, God

hamav’dil bein kodesh l’chol (Amen)

who separates between sacred and secular (Amen)

-Author Unknown

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