Shabbat, the day of the week dedicated to prayer, feasting, rest and rejuvenation, ends at nightfall. But even after the stars appear in the sky, there are still special things to do as we transition into the week ahead.

The evening following Shabbat, known as motzoei Shabbat (or motzi Shabbos), carries its own unique set of practices.

Read on to learn how Jews give the Sabbath Queen the royal send-off she so richly deserves:

First Priority: Mark the End of Shabbat

Even when the clock says that Shabbat has ended (see here for local times), the Sages prohibit us from engaging in any work (melachah) until we verbally declare the transition from sacred to mundane.1

You can do this in two ways:

  • Make a verbal declaration in the evening prayer (Atah Chonantanu) or simply say “Baruch Hamavdil bein kodesh lechol,” “Blessed is the One who differentiates between holy and the mundane.”
  • Make the declaration over a cup of wine as part of the Havdalah ceremony.

Once you’ve made this declaration, you can do the stuff that’s considered “work” (like lighting a fire). But if you only made the verbal declaration (option one), you can’t eat or drink (except for water) until you make Havdalah over wine (option two).2

The Chabad custom, following the Arizal, is to refrain from drinking even water until after Havdalah.3

Havdalah Over Wine

The Havdalah ceremony involves:

  • Saying a selection of verses that speak of faith, joy and salvation.
  • Reciting the Hagafen blessing over a cup of wine (or grape juice).
  • Sniffing aromatic spices that “restore our soul.”4 (See: Why the Aromatic Spices (Besamim)?)
  • Gazing at a flame and reciting a blessing, recognizing that G‑d gifted Adam with fire on Saturday night.5 (See: Why Do We Make a Blessing on Fire at Havdalah?)
  • Saying the actual Havdalah, which thanks G‑d, who “separates between holy and mundane . . . between the seventh day and the six days of creation.”

Read: Havdalah Blessings and Instructions

If you don’t have a Havdalah candle or spices handy, you can make Havdalah over a cup of wine and then make the appropriate blessing on the spices and/or the flame whenever you get ahold of them during the course of the evening.

If you don’t have wine or grape juice, you can say Havdalah over what is known as chamar hamedina, Aramaic for “wine of the region,”6 a prestigious beverage (not water) that people drink at mealtime, on par with wine.

Practically, there is debate over which beverages make the cut, but beer is pretty universally accepted as a stand-in for wine or grape juice.7

Showering Each Other With Blessings

After (or, in many Ashkenazic communities, before) Havdalah, we say Veyiten lecha, a collection of verses that speak of G‑d’s blessings and abundance.8 The Chabad custom is to say it together with another person—often reading together from the same prayerbook—possibly to mutually bless each other with a successful week ahead.9

V’yiten Lecha is not recited when Shabbat leads into a Jewish holiday.

Invoking Elijah

After Havdalah, or as part of the melaveh malkah (more on that below), there is a widespread custom to invoke the Prophet Elijah. Through mentioning Elijah’s name, we’re praying that he “come and proclaim the Redemption,” which he could not have done on Shabbat.10

There are different customs regarding how the name of Elijah is invoked. Some say his name a certain number of times (e.g., they say “Eliyahu Hanavi'' 40 times, “Eliyahu Hatishbi” 40 times, “Eliyahu Hagiladi” 40 times, and then recite each one again three times, concluding with “Eliyahu Hanavi” one time, for a total of 130 times. They then conclude with “bimiheira yavo eileinu im Moshiach ben David,” “he will speedily come to us with Moshiach ben David”).11 Others recite every verse in Scripture that mentions him by name, while many simply sing or recite a hymn that mentions his name.12

Read: Why Sing About Elijah After Shabbat?

When to Change Out of Shabbat Clothing?

At the very least, you should keep your Shabbat clothes on until after Havdalah on Saturday night.13 Some have the custom of keeping them on until after eating the melaveh malkah,14 while others, including Chabad, wear them until bedtime.15

Drawing and Drinking Well Water

There is an ancient custom to draw some water from a well and drink it after Shabbat. This is based on the teaching of the Sages that the waters of Miriam’s Well flow through all the wells and natural springs every Saturday night, and “anyone who encounters it and drinks of its waters will be immediately healed from all his afflictions.”16

What if you don’t have a well nearby? Just draw some water from the tap and take a sip.17

Read: Miriam's Well: Unravelling the Mystery

The Melaveh Malkah Feast

Since Shabbat is considered to be like royalty, we celebrate her departure with a feast. This Saturday night meal is known as melaveh malkah ("Accompanying the Queen") and mirrors the feast we ate on Friday night when we welcomed Shabbat into our homes.18

The Rebbe explains that when our ancestors traveled in the desert for 40 years, the manna provided two meals per day: the daytime meal and the nighttime meal. Before Shabbat, a double portion of manna fell, enough for both Friday and Shabbat. After Shabbat, they ate a night meal leftover from the Shabbat afternoon meal. Accordingly, we celebrate the blessing that overflows from Shabbat into this night.19

What’s on the Menu?

Ideally, you should have a full meal, including bread. Set your table for a lavish banquet, even if you’re still full and will just wash and eat an ounce (ideally two ounces20) of bread, the minimum needed to recite an after-blessing.21

If you’re not able to eat bread, eat other foods.22 Since this is a feast, it’s appropriate to have something freshly made, not just Shabbat leftovers.23

After the spiritual high of Shabbat, we may be feeling down. So have a soothing hot drink, which helps start the week on an even keel.24

Candles on the Table

Another way we honor the departing Shabbat queen is by lighting candles.25 Some light them right after Havdalah, while others light them to grace their Melaveh Malkah table.

Singing and Facing the Week Bravely

Aside from the songs evoking Elijah the Prophet, people sing other hymns to escort out the Shabbat, as one escorts a king after he departs a city.26

Many have the custom of singing the hymn Al tira avdi Yaakov, "Do not fear, my servant, Jacob." The Rebbe once explained the significance of this song (even though it’s not technically the Chabad custom to sing it): After an entire day of not working, you may be afraid that you’re losing money, for your competition is open on Shabbat. G‑d promises, “Don’t worry.” If you observe the commandments, He’ll provide for you as a master who must provide for a servant.27

Hastening the Redemption

According to tradition, there’s a microscopic bone in the body called the luz bone. This bone is indestructible, and it is from this bone that G‑d will reconstruct the entire body when the time arrives for the Resurrection of the Dead.28 This bone receives its only sustenance from the melaveh malkah meal. So being scrupulous about eating melaveh malkah, as well as doing the other customs of Saturday night, is a way of hastening the final Redemption. May it be speedily in our days!

For more on the importance of melaveh malkah, see Why Is Eating Melaveh Malkah Important?