Havdalah, which means “separation” is a special candle lighting ceremony that marks the conclusion of Shabbat. The ceremony involves all the senses and is a peaceful way to get in the right headspace for the week ahead. This practice is very accessible and a great way to include family and friends who are not Jewish, or to bring spirituality into your family’s weekly routine. Here’s a guide to practicing this tradition that celebrates the end of Shabbat.
How to Lead and Participate in Havdalah
People often sing a wordless tune to transition to the other blessings and in between the four blessings that make up the service. Altogether, the service will likely last less than 10 minutes.
Hold up the kiddush cup and recite the blessing over the wine. After the blessing, put down the cup without drinking.
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-olam, borei p’ri ha-gafen.
Blessed is the Oneness Who creates the fruit of the vine.
Hold up the spices while saying the blessing over the spices. Breathe in the scent and pass them around for everyone to enjoy the smell.
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא מִינֵי בְשָׂמִים
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-olam, borei mi-ney v’sa-mim.
Blessed is the Oneness Who creates many kinds of spices.
Designate someone to hold the candle throughout the service, or hold up the candle so everyone can bask in the light.
.בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא מְאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-olam, borei m’orei ha-eish.
Blessed is the Oneness Who creates the lights of fire.
Blessing of Separation
Recite the final blessing of separation.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמַּבְדִיל בֵּין קֹֽדֶשׁ לְחוֹל, בֵּין אוֹר לְחֹֽשֶׁךְ, בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַמִּים, בֵּין יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי לְשֵֽׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הַמַּבְדִיל בֵּין קֹֽדֶשׁ לְחוֹל
Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha-olam, ha-mav’dil bein-ko-desh l’chol, bein-or l’cho-shekh, bein-yis’ra-el la-a-mim, bein-yom hash’vi’I l’she-shet y’mey-ha-ma-a-se. Baruch atah, Adonai ha-mav’dil bein-ko-desh l’chol.
Blessed is the Oneness Who distinguishes between the holy and the ordinary, between light and darkness, between Israel and other people of the world, between the seventh day and the six days of the week. Blessed is the Oneness Who distinguishes between the holy and the ordinary.
Take a sip, pour a little wine or grape juice onto the plate and extinguish the flame in the liquid.
At the end of Shabbat, we sing a song about Elijah (yes, the same one from the Passover seder). Shabbat is said to be like a taste of the world to come, so we often associate this one day a week with the Messianic age, which is when the prophet Elijah is said to come. Want to add some female stories to the service? Some people add another song about Miriam the prophet, sung to the same tune.
At the very end of all the blessings, wish shavua tov, a “good week,” to those around you. This greeting is typically used throughout the weekend.
If you’d like, dip your fingers in the wine that extinguished the flame to symbolically bring Shabbat blessings into the week.
You may want to include a short song to conclude Havdalah as well, which aside from repeating “shavua tov,” several times, includes the words: “A good week, a week of peace, may gladness reign and joy increase.”
The end of the service is your chance to reflect. As Shabbat closes out, ask yourself: What are you hoping for in the week to come? What sweetness from Shabbat will you carry with you into the everyday?
Looking for more ways to bring Shabbat into your life? Here are some ways couples can bring Shabbat into their homes.