The main body of the havdalah consists of four blessings: 1) The hagafen blessing over the wine. 2) The blessing on the incense. 3) The blessing on the candle. 4) The
havdalah blessing which praises G‑d for separating between the holy and the mundane.
Before reciting the hagafen blessing, it is customary to lift the cup of wine in the right hand and recite a selection of joyous verses from Isaiah and Psalms. These uplifting verses bring an upbeat atmosphere to the new week. Also included is the verse from the Book of Esther: "For the Jews there was light, happiness, joy and honor" -- to which we add: "so be it for us!" The one reciting the
havdalah traditionally pauses when reaching this verse, allowing everyone to say it in unison before he repeats it and then continues.
These uplifting verses bring an upbeat atmosphere to the new weekAfter concluding the preliminary verses and the hagafen blessing on the wine, the cup is put down and the blessings on the incense and candles are recited successively. The cup is then lifted again, and the concluding
havdalah blessing is recited.
After the conclusion of the final blessing, the one who recited the havdalah sits down and drinks at least 1.46 ounces of the wine or grape juice.
After havdalah, the candle is customarily extinguished by being dipped in the wine which overflowed on to the plate or tray when the cup was overfilled before havdalah. Extinguishing the flame in the wine demonstrates that the candle was kindled only for the purpose of the mitzvah of
After the havdalah candle has been extinguished, many have the custom of dipping a finger into the spilled wine, and running the finger on one's forehead just above the eyes. "The command of the L-rd is clear, enlightening the eyes" (Psalms 19:9). With a new week on the horizon we are making a statement: even the leftovers of a mitzvah make the eyes bright. Some also have the custom of dipping their wine-dipped finger into their pocket -- considered a segulah (harbinger) for a bountiful and prosperous week.
Traditionally, women don't drink of the leftover wine in the havdalah cup.
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.