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The Havdalah Ceremony

The Havdalah Ceremony

  • 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 havdalah.
  • 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.
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LaDonna Sand chugwater, WY December 21, 2013

Havdalah candle The havdalah candle has 3 wicks, can you tell me what each wick represents? Reply

Menachem Posner July 9, 2013

RE: Wine or Grape Juice Jewish law states that wine is preferable. However, if wine is not available, some other drinks (such as beer or fruit juice) may be used. (See Code of Jewish Law 296.) Reply

Anonymous California July 8, 2013

Wine or Grape Jiuce Is there any faith-based difference in using grape juice versus wine?
Does this differ based upon if one is Orthodox, Conservative or Reform?

Is it permissible to use a liquid other than grape juice or wine? Another site noted the following: "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)." Reply

Menachem Posner for April 19, 2010

Women and Havdalah Wine While there is the age-old custom of women not partaking in the havdalah wine, in the event that she makes havdalah for herself, she most certainly should drink it (Mishnah Berurah 296:35).

In addition, she can/should recite the blessing over the spices. Concerning the blessing on the candles, the Mishnah Berurah (ibid) rules that she need not say it. However, common practice is that she does recite this blessing as well (Ketzot Hashulchan vol. 3. chapter 96 footnote 12). Reply

Anonymous south Fremantle, australia April 18, 2010

I know it's the Jewish was to have a multitude of opnions, these two are so opposed to each other, could Naftali Silberberg and Menachem Posner please put your heads together and give me one answer about women and drinking the Havdalah wine? (see below) Reply

Chani Montreal, Canada April 17, 2010

Havdallah without wine A woman I knew would make havdallah on orange juice. Is there an issue with orange juice as there might be with wine for women? And does she recite havdallah with candle and fragrant spices as well? I follow Chabad customs, but this I have confusion on. Reply

Naftali Silberberg (Author) November 4, 2009

Re: Women and Havdalah A woman making havdalah should certainly drink the wine or grape juice. Reply

Anonymous South Fremantle, WA November 3, 2009

Women and Havdalah What should a woman on her own do then about making Havdalah - drink the wine or not? Reply

Menachem Posner for November 17, 2008

To Omri Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (known as the Shalah) explains that according to many, the Tree of Knowledge was actually a grape vine. Since Eve’s squeezing of those grapes for Adam to partake caused separation (of good and evil) in the world, women do not drink the grape-wine of separation (Havdalah). Reply

Omri November 16, 2008

havdalah "Traditionally, women don't drink of the leftover wine in the havdalah cup."

i did not know this... why not? Reply

Naftali Silberberg (Author) May 2, 2008

Re: Overflowing Cup It 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.

-- Taken from Havdalah Information Reply

Anonymous May 2, 2008

Is it a minhag to let the wine spill over the top?If so, what's the basis / source for this? Reply

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