The Havdalah ceremony, performed at the end of Shabbat on Saturday night, is replete with nuance and meaning. The purpose of this presentation of the ceremony is to enable you to explore the various themes, concepts and ideas contained within and connected to Havdalah.

By "clicking" on the highlighted words or wherever it says, "click here" (also highlighted), you will enter a "Study Path." Each Study Path will lead you to a variety of comments, quotations and questions that relate to the content of the Havdalah ceremony. Some Study Paths are longer than others, linking you to further comments, quotations and questions. At the end of each segment, there will be a "Back to" line which will enable you to loop back to where you began.

This manner and method of study is typical of the way Jewish texts have been studied over the past 2,000 years. The freedom to follow your nose, so to speak, and to study that which is personally interesting and intriguing is the essence of this method of study.

Please keep in mind that aside from providing basic explanations, many of the comments and notes are meant to stimulate thought and to provoke further study and discussion.

To borrow a phrase from the Talmud, we invite you to "come and learn!"


To perform the Havdalah ceremony, you will need:

A full cup of wine or grape juice

A plate upon which to place the cup of wine or grape juice

A bit of sweet smelling spice

A braided, multi-wick candle

Something disposable, like an old newspaper, to place on the table to catch the wax as it
drips from the candle.

Before reciting the Havdalah, place the cup on the plate, and pour the wine or grape juice into the cup. Continue to pour until the wine spills over a bit onto the plate. Have the spice handy. Light the candle. Someone other than the person reciting the Havdalah can hold the candle. The cup is lifted with the right hand and the recitation begins.


Verses of Salvation

The ceremony begins with quotations from the Bible. The common theme of these verses is salvation. The experience of salvation is one of simple joy coupled with spiritual ascent. This is what we pray for in the beginning of the Havdalah ceremony.

Hinay, El yishu'ati evtach velo efchad, ki azi vezimrat Yah, Adonai, va'yehi li lishu'a.

Behold, God is my savior, I will trust Him and not be afraid, for my strong faith and song of praise for God will be my salvation.

Isaiah 12:2

U'she'avtem ma'yim besason, mima'a'yenay ha'yeshu'a.

You will draw water joyously from the wellsprings of salvation.

Isaiah 12:3

La'Adonai ha'yeshu'a, al amcha virchatecha, Selah.

Salvation is the God's; may Your blessing rest upon Your people, Selah.

Psalms 3:9

Adonai Tzeva'ot imanu, misgav lanu, Elohay Ya'akov, Selah.

God of the heavenly armies is with us; the Lord of Ya'akov is a fortress protecting us, Selah.

Psalms 46:12

Adonai Tzeva'ot, ashray adam botay'ach bach

God of the heavenly armies, happy is the individual who trusts You.

Psalms 84:13

Adonai hoshi'ah, hamelech ya'anaynu ve'yom kor'aynu.

God, redeem us! The King will answer us on the day we call Him.

Psalms 20:10

La'yehudim ha'yetah orah vesimcha vesason vikar,

The Jews had light, happiness, joy and honor;

Esther 8:16

kayn te'hi'yeh lanu.

may we have the same.

Kos yeshu'ot esa u'veshaym Adonai Ekra.

I will raise the cup of salvation and call out in the name of the God:

Psalms 116:13

The Blessings of Havdalah

Baruch atah, Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha'olam, boray pri hagafen.

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Baruch atah, Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha'olam, boray minay vesamim.

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, Creator of the different spices.

Baruch atah, Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha'olam, boray me'oray ha'aysh.

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, Creator of the fire's lights.

Baruch atah, Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha'olam, hamavdil

Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who separates

bayn kodesh lechol

between the holy and the profane;

bayn or lechoshech

between the light and dark;

bayn Yisra'el la'amim

between Israel and the other nations;

bayn yom ha'shevi'i leshayshet yemay hama'aseh.

between the seventh day and the six days of the week.

Baruch atah, Adonai, hamavdil bayn kodesh lechol.

Blessed are You, God, who separates between the holy and the profane.

As we begin another week with the recitation of Havdalah, the differences between
Shabbat and the rest of the week are called to mind. The wine reminds us of Kiddush.
The sweet smell of the spices calls up the memory of the delicious Shabbat meals. The
light of the multi-wicked candle is but a poor, rough re-enactment of lighting the sublime
Shabbat candles. The content of the Havdalah ceremony forces us to contemplate the
many ways that Shabbat is unique and different from the rest of time. Havdalah
prepares us for another week of work, creation, production and study; but it also
reminds us that another Shabbat is just six days away.


Reciting Havdalah on Saturday night, when Shabbat ends, is one of the 613
commandments (Mitzvot) of the Torah.

To learn more about the Mitzvah aspect of Havdalah, especially if women are obligated,
click here.

"Havdalah" is a Hebrew word meaning "separation."

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