Havdalah Home Ritual

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The Havdalah ritual marks the end of Shabbat or a holiday. The word Havdalah means "separation," because this ritual marks the separation between a special day and he rest of the week. It should be performed after nightfall, which is the time when three stars can be seen in the sky, normally 45 minutes to an hour after sundown, depending on your latitude. For the precise time when Shabbat or a holiday ends in your area, consult the OU Calendar provided by the Orthodox Union (look for the word Havdalah near the end of the list).

You will need three things for this ritual: a glass of wine, grape juice or other liquid if grape is not available, some fragrant spices, and a special Havdalah candle. These prayers are commonly sung to the tune heard in the video on this page. Please note that the video uses substitutions for the names of God, which appear on this page.

P'ri Hagafen: Wine

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). This is the same blessing that is traditionally recited whenever we eat or drink any grape product. Note that you do not drink the wine immediately after completing the blessing, as you usually do. The wine is held until the end of the last blessing.

Barukh atah Adonai
Blessed are you, Lord
Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
our God, sovereign of the universe

if using wine or grape juice

borei p'ri hagafen (Amein)
Who creates the fruit of the vine (Amen)

if using other liquids

shehakol nih'yeh bid'varo (Amein)
Who made all things exist through His word (Amen)

Don't drink the wine yet!

B'samim: Spices

B'samim BoxB'samim Box

The second blessing is recited over fragrant spices. The spices represent a compensation for the loss of the special Shabbat or holiday spirit. The spices commonly used are cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon or bay leaves. They are commonly kept in a special decorative holder called a b'samim box or in a decorative bag. Some people stick whole cloves into an etrog after the end of Sukkot and use that for b'samim.

Barukh atah Adonai
Blessed are you, Lord
Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
our God, sovereign of the universe
borei minei v'samim (Amein)
Who creates varieties of spices (Amen)

Eish: Fire

The third blessing is recited over the special, multi-wicked Havdalah candle. If you cannot obtain a Havdalah candle, you can hold two candles close together, so their flames overlap. I have also used party candles (long, very thin candles) that I warmed up and twisted together.

Lighting a flame is a vivid way of marking the distinction between Shabbat or holiday and the weekday, because we cannot kindle a flame on Shabbat.

Barukh atah Adonai
Blessed are you, Lord
Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
our God, sovereign of the universe
borei m'orei ha'eish (Amein)
Who creates the light of the fire (Amen)

After the blessing is recited, hold your hands up to the flame with curved fingers, so you can see the shadow of your fingers on your palms. This is done because it would be improper to recite a blessing for something and then not use the thing.

Havdalah: Separation

The final blessing is the havdalah blessing itself, the blessing over the separation of different things. The blessing is recited over the wine.

Barukh atah Adonai
Blessed are you, Lord
Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
our God, sovereign of the universe
hamav'dil bein kodesh l'chol
Who separates between sacred and secular
bein or l'choshekh
between light and darkness
bein Yis'ra'eil la'amim
between Israel and the nations
bein yom hash'vi'i
between the seventh day
l'sheishet y'mei hama'aseh
and the six days of labor
Barukh atah Adonai
Blessed are you, Lord
hamav'dil bein kodesh l'chol (Amein).
who separates between sacred and secular. (Amen)

After the blessing is complete, drink most of the wine. The flame from the candle is extinguished in what is left of the wine, either in the original glass or on a tray where you pour the remaining wine.

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