Step 7 of 7

Step 7: Havdalah

As the stars become visible in the sky above us, we know this incredible experience has come to an end. When did you last stargaze?

Shabbat ends – shavua tov

Shabbat starts in Jerusalem this week at and ends at

The maariv/evening service is over, the kids are scruffy and tired, and the house is a bit of a balagan (mess). As we gently leave Shabbat, Shabbat gently leaves us. We bring everyone together one more time for the Havdalah ceremony.

Havdalah

Just as we welcome and bring in Shabbat by lighting candles, so too we see it out with them. Instead of two separate candles standing side by side, we bring two flames together or use a multi-wicked candle.

“In Gan Eden, when Shabbat came to an end, Adam and Eve encountered darkness in exile for the first time and they were frightened. Our sages teach us that G-d showed Adam and Eve how to make fire and therefore how to make light. He taught them how to light up a dark world. This is why we conduct Havdalah with a Havdalah candle. We bring the paradise we experience through Shabbat into the week by extending the light of Shabbat into the week ahead. This light shows us the way forward and helps us illuminate a dark and sometimes dangerous world. When we are faced with dark times in a dark world, we have two choices: we can curse the darkness or we can bring light into the darkness. Havdalah allows us to do just that. The Havdalah candle brings the light of peace, joy and blessing to the Jewish people and to the world.”
– Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

While this ceremony marks a sadness that Shabbat is over, it is also hopeful of a week ahead in which we will have opportunities to build and grow before the next Shabbat. 

We make Havdalah over an overflowing cup of wine or grape juice, spices and a multi-wicked candle. 

Print the Havdalah prayer and instructions as included in our Shabbat companion.

The Talmud teaches that when wine flows in our homes as freely as water, it’s a sign of blessing. We are generous with the wine. We use it lavishly. We do this to symbolize an abundance of blessings for the week ahead.

We start by making a blessing on the wine. Thereafter we make a blessing and take in the beautiful fragrance of besamim, or spices. As Shabbat leaves us, our souls are left with a void or depletion of holiness. According to Kabbalah, smell is the sense that most impacts the soul. The fragrant smell of the besamim comforts and soothes the soul at its most difficult juncture of the week. We make a blessing and enjoy the light of the Havdalah candle. We then bless G-d for distinguishing between Shabbat and the rest of the week, before drinking from the cup.

After Havdalah, we turn our phones back on. Suddenly, the lights around the house start flickering on and off. We work to clean up and get the house back in order. Everything goes back to normal, but feels different. We feel exhausted but revived. Purposeful and content.

We look forward to the week ahead, but more than that – to the Shabbat at its end, when we get to celebrate together again.

Shabbat is attainable. Follow these steps and you'll discover your path. If it’s the weekend of The Shabbat Project, enrich your experience by joining a Shabbat event near you, and let’s celebrate Shabbat together.