The sages instituted that havdalah be recited on wine. Shabbat's departure is thus marked in similar fashion to its entry; both over a cup of wine. The Psalmist (104:15) says that "wine gladdens the heart of man." The Day of Rest has bid farewell and another workweek is on the horizon. The heart deserves to be cheered a bit!
In the absence of wine or grape juice, certain other beverages of note can be used. In such an instance a rabbi should be consulted as to which beverage should be used.
The Day of Rest has bid farewell and another workweek is on the horizonIt is customary to fill the havdalah cup until it overflows its rim. This is symbolic of the overflowing cup of blessings we wish for in the upcoming week.
One may recite the havdalah on another's behalf even if he has already satisfied his havdalah obligation -- having recited it beforehand or having heard it from someone else. However, a man who has already fulfilled the obligation of havdalah cannot make the havdalah for the sake of a woman who has not yet heard the havdalah. Instead, the woman should recite the havdalah herself.
[This is unlike kiddush, which may be repeated by a man for the benefit of a woman who has not yet heard the kiddush. The technical reasons for this distinction are beyond the parameters of this venue.]
If one did not make havdalah on Saturday night, it can still be done until sunset of Tuesday evening of that week. The first three days of every week are considered to be in the shadow of the previous Shabbat -- as opposed to the last three, which are considered preparatory days for the following Shabbat. However, if the havdalah is recited after Saturday night, the candle and incense are not used.
Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.