Havdalah: Taking Leave of Shabbat

We say goodbye to the Sabbath in a bittersweet ceremony that employs wine, fragrance, and candlelight.

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When the blessings are concluded, each person takes a sip from the wine. The remainder is poured into a nonflammable dish or basin in which the candle is then extinguished. An alternative, which is more fun but also more dangerous, is to pour whiskey or vodka into the dish and extinguish the candle in it. It will burst into a big, quick burning flame, sure to enchant the children.

Havdalah blessings:

Hinei El yeshu'ati, evtach v'-lo efchad. Ki ozi ve-zimrat Yah Adonai, vayhi li liyshu'a. Ush'avtem mayim b'sason mi-ma'y'nei ha-yshu'a. L'Adonai ha-y'shu'a, al amkha virkhatekha selah. Adonai tz'vaot imanu, misgav lanu Elohei Ya'akov selah. Adonai tz'vaot ashrei adam boteakh bach. Adonai hosheea, ha-Melech ya'aneinu b'yom kor'einu. La-Yhudim hayta orah ve-simcha ve-sason viykar, ken tihyeh lanu. Kos yeshu'ot esa uvshem Adonai ekra.

Behold, God is my unfailing help; I will trust in God and will not be afraid. God is strength and song, my Deliverer. With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation. God alone is our help; may God bless His people. God of the universe is with us; the God of Jacob is our protection. There was light and joy; gladness and honor for the Jewish people. So may we be blessed. I will lift the cup of salvation and call upon God's Name.

Blessing over the wine:
Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, borei peri ha-gafen.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

Blessing over the spices:
Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, borei minei v'samim.
Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of many kinds of spices.

Blessing over the flames of the Havdalah candle:
Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, borei m'orei ha-eish.Blessed are You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe, Creator of the fire's light.

Concluding blessing:

shabbat quizBarukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, ha-mavdil bein kodesh l'chol, bein or-le'choshekh, bein Yisrael la-amim, bein yom ha-shevi'i l'sheshet y'mai ha-ma'aseh. Barukh ata Adonai, ha-mavdil bein kodesh l'chol.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Who distinguishes between the sacred and the profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and other people of the world, between the seventh day and the six days of the week. Blessed are You, Who distinguishes between the sacred and the profane.

In the dim twilight, the people in the circle (often joining hands) sing "Shavua Tov" (a good week), which is sung in Hebrew and English. This is followed by "Eliyahu Ha-navi," sung in Hebrew only. Some people add "Miriam Ha-nevi'ah."

Shavua tov (8x)

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Susan Silverman

Rabbi Susan Silverman lives with her family on Kibbutz Ketura. She is the co-author, with her husband, Yosef Abramowitz, of Jewish Family & Life, Traditions, Holidays and Values for Today's Parents and Children. She is currently at work on a memoir and theology of adoption called Blessed Are They Who Dwell in Your House.