Super Simple Guide: How to Do Havdalah

Blurry image of a havdalah set with a hand reflecting off of the candle with the words: Super Simple Guide: How to do Havdalah

Havdalah (also spelled havdallah) is the ritual that transitions between the holiness of Shabbat and the mundane nature of a weekday. This ritual interacts with many of our senses engaging with wine or grape juice for taste, spices for smell, and candles for sight. The ritual is generally done while standing.

The ritual has five parts:

1. An introduction
2. The blessing over the wine
3. The blessing over the spices
4. The blessing over the flame
5. The blessing of distinction

You can find the instructions and blessings below.

Introduction to Havdalah

הִנֵּה אֵל יְשׁוּעָתִי אֶבְטַח וְלֹא אֶפְחָד כִּי עָזִּי וְזִמְרָת יָהּ ה׳ וַיְהִי לִי לִישׁוּעָה: וּשְׁאַבְתֶּם מַיִם בְּשָׂשׂוֹן מִמַּעַיְנֵי הַיְשׁוּעָה: לַה׳ הַיְשׁוּעָה עַל עַמְּךָ בִרְכָתֶךָ סֶּלָה: ה׳ צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה: ה׳ צְבָאוֹת, אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם בֹּוטֵחַ בָּךְ: ה׳ הוֹשִׁיעָה, הַמֶּלֶךְ יַעֲנֵנוּ בְיוֹם קָרְאֵנו: לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשֹׂן וִיקָר: כּן תהיה לנו: כּוֹס יְשׁוּעוֹת אֶשָּׂא וּבְשֵׁם ה׳ אֶקְרָא:

Hinei el ye’shua’ti evtach v’lo efchad, kee ozi v’zimrat ya, Adonai li lishua. U’shavtem mayim be’sason mee’maai’nei hayeshua. LAdonai hayeshua al amcha virchatecha selah. Adonai tzevaot eemanu misgav lanu Elohei ya’akov selah. Adonai tzevaot ashrei adam boteach bach. Adonai hosheeya, hamelekh ya’aneinu b’yom koreinu. La’yehudim hay’ta orah v’simchah v’sason veekar. Ken tee’h’yeh lanu. Kos yeshuot eh’sa oove’shem Adonai eh’kra.

Behold, God is my redeemer, I am trustful and I will not be afraid. For Adonai is my strength, my might, and my redemption. And you shall draw water with joy from the waters of redemption. Redemption is Adonai’s, and upon your people may you bless, selah. Adonai tzevaot is with us, the God of Jacob is a shelter  for us, selah. Adonai tzevaot, joyous is the person who trusts in you. Help us, Adonai, the sovereign, answers us on the day we call. For our ancestors, it was [a blessing of] light, gladness, joy, and honor, may it be for us. I lift up the cup of redemption, and in Adonai’s name, I call.

The Blessing over the Wine (or grape juice)

Hold up the cup of wine (or grape juice) and recite the blessing without drinking.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם. בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן:

Barukh atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam, borei peri hagafen.
Praised are you Adonai, sovereign of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

The Blessing over the Spices

Hold up the spices and then pass them around so everyone can smell them.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם. בּוֹרֵא מִינֵי בְשָׂמִים:

Barukh atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam, borei mee’nei besamim.
Praised are you Adonai, sovereign of the universe, who creates fragrant spices.

The Blessing over the Flame

Hold high the flames (safely) while reciting the blessing. There is a custom of seeing the reflection on your fingernails.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם. בּוֹרֵא מְאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ:

Barukh atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam, borei me’orei ha’esh.
Praised are you Adonai, sovereign of the universe, who creates the lights of the fire.

The Blessing of Distinction

This blessing marks the separation between the holiness of Shabbat and the mundane weekday.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמַּבְדִּיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחוֹל, בֵּין אוֹר לְחשֶׁךְ, בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַמִּים, בֵּין יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי לְשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה׳, הַמַבְדִּיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחוֹל:

Barukh atah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha’olam, hamavdeel bein kodesh l’chol, bein or l’choshekh, bein yisrael la’amim, bein yom ha’shvi’i le’sheishet yamei hama’aseh. Barukh atah Adonai, hamavdeel bein kodesh l’chol.

Praised are you Adonai, sovereign of the universe, who makes a distinction between holy and mundane, between light and darkness, between the people of Israel and the other nations, between the seventh day and the six days of creation. Praised are you Adonai, who makes a distinction between holy and mundane.

At this point, the ritual is complete.

Some have the custom of singing various songs like, Eliyahu haNavi and Hamavdeel Bein Kodesh L’Chol.

You can find the Rabbinical Assembly’s Havdalah One-pager below.

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