Judaica Guide: A Complete Guide to Essential Judaica & Hebrew

Havdalah

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.

Three things are needed for the Havdalah ritual: a glass of wine or other liquid, some fragrant spices, and a special Havdalah candle.

During the Havdalah service, four blessings are said.

Wine - Kiddush Cup

The first of the four Havdalah blessings is made over wine or another liquid. If the blessing is made over wine, then the blessing should be:

"Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the vine. (Amen)"

If the blessing is made over another liquid, than the blessing should be:

"Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, by Whose will all things exist. (Amen)"

Spices - B'samim Box

The second Havdalah blessing is recited over fragrant spices. The spices represent a compensation for the loss of the special Shabbat 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.

When blessing over the spices, the blessing should be:

"Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who creates varieties of spices. (Amen)"

Fire - Havdalah Candle

The third blessing is recited over the special, multi-wicked Havdalah Candle. If one does not have a Havdalah Candle, it is possible to hold two candles close together, so their flames overlap.

Havdalah

Lighting a flame is a vivid way of marking the distinction between the Shabbat and the weekday, because it is not allowed to light a flame on the Shabbat.

When blessing over the fire, the blessing should be:

"Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the light of the fire. (Amen)"

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.

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, the wine is drunk. A few drops of wine are used to extinguish the flame from the candle.

"Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who distinguishes between the sacred and the secular,"

"between light and dark, between Israel and the nations, between the seventh day and the six days of labor"

"Blessed are You, Lord, who distinguishes between the sacred and the secular. (Amein)"

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