Havdalah

Each Saturday night, Havdalah (meaning “separation”) marks our transition from Shabbat into the rest of the week.  The service itself consists of four blessings.  The first three outline all the materials we need to make Havdalah: the fruit of the vine (wine), varied spices (usually cinnamon, cloves, etc.), and the light of fire (a plaited candle).  The fourth recognizes the meaning of the ritual: to separate the holiness of Shabbat from the ordinary work week.  At the end of this blessing, we extinguish the braided candle in the glass of wine, marking Shabbat’s formal end.  Havdalah “sets,” which contain a candle holder, a wine glass, and a spice box, can be found at most Judaica shops, as can the traditional plaited candles.  While they are a beautiful piece in any Jewish home, they are not necessary for making Havdalah.  Homemade Havdalah sets can consist of any combination of two or more spices, a cup of wine or grape juice, and any three or more candles lit together.

The Havdalah service begins on page 610 of Mishkan T’fillah, where in addition to these four blessings, we find additional texts that enhance this ritual.  For your convenience, we have included a link below to the Havdalah Service (as a PDF file). It is traditional to close Havdalah with a song for Elijah the Prophet, and a hearty “Shavua tov!”

 Click here for a Havdalah Booklet  Rabbi Lazarow’s Remarks