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When to Begin Havdalah?

The conclusion of Shabbat service, a beloved tradition and an important part of our Shabbat ritual schedule.  

As Shabbat rolls into evening, we gather together on a balcony, near a window, or outdoors, and look for the first three stars in the sky.  When we spot them, we may begin the service (on a cloudy day, follow a published time or use your best judgement!).

The First Blessing

We light the Havdalah candle, as we begin the service with a general prayer to God to continue his covenant with us as we move from holy Shabbat to the secular concerns of the work week.  

The third sentence begins a well-known folk song, which can be sung during the recital of the prayer.

The Fruit,  the Fragrances, and the Fire

The heart of the Havdalah service are the three blessings on the fruit of the vine, the spices/perfumes, and the light:

  • Hold up the cup as you recite the prayer for Pri Ha'Gefen.
  • Pass around the spice box for people to sniff as you recite the prayer for Besamim
  • As we hold up the Havdalah candle during the blessing of Meorei Ha'Esh, one looks at the fire holding up their hands to inspect their fingers - there must be enough light for all to differentiate between their fingers and fingernails

The Separation

Havdalah literally means separation or division - as we conclude the service, we bless God for imbuing our lives with the concept of weeks divided into secular and spiritual blocks - or at least for having a restful weekend after a grueling work/school week.

After the prayer, we extinguish the candle in the wine/juice - pour into a plate, and dunk the candle into it, or dunk it right into the cup, if convenient and safe.

We can sing the second half of the blessing - Shavua Tov (Have a good week)!


And we end with a song for Elijah the Prophet, asking for his speedy arrival along with the Massiah.

Wed, 25 May 2022 24 Iyar 5782