The Havdalah ceremony is very sweet and simple, but it has deep significance! It is centered around four blessings, which are said when lighting the candle:
1. Candle – Ner
As we lit the candles to indicate the beginning of Shabbat so we light a special candle at its conclusion. The two candles, as it were, have become one – united in the peace, harmony and beauty of Shabbat.
Havdalah candles have six strands braided together to show that the light of Shabbat can be carried into the six week days. It produces a huge flame so someone other than the person saying the blessings should light it. Children (with supervision) love this job! If alone use a holder, and keep a sheet of tinfoil handy to catch drips.
If a Havdalah candle is not available, one can hold two candles together with their wicks joined to illustrate the principle of unity. In the event that no candles are available, or if traveling and in a hotel room, one can hold two matches together; they also produce a great burst of light!￼
Before lighting, say the blessing: Borei me’orei ha’esh . Once the candle is lit to signal the arrival of the new week, the lights are dimmed and we are reminded that darkness still covers the earth. Traditionally, everyone lifts their hands towards the flame. Jewish commentary offers the explanation that as we see the light shining through our fingernails it is a reminder that before the fall Adam and Eve’s bodies were light-filled and radiant. We can give thanks that Yeshua is the Light of the world and our lives are filled with His light. Together, our hope is in YHWH – our Father, the God of Israel – and we dedicate the work of our hands in His service.
2. Wine – Yayin
After raising the lights again, the leader fills a Kiddush cup with grape juice or wine until it overflows into a plate below. This is symbolic of our desire that the blessings of Shabbat will flow into the week ahead, and also of our joy in the Lord that causes our “cup to run over” (Psalm 23:5).
The leader then lifts the wine cup in right hand and reads a paragraph [based on Scripture verses from Isaiah & the Psalms] that proclaims God as the source of Salvation.
Hinei El Yeshuati, evtach ve’lo efchad, ki ozi ve’zimrat Yah, va’yehi li lishuah.
Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid. Indeed the Lord
is my strength and my song and He has become my salvation.
Ushe’avtem mayim be’sasson mi’ma’ainei ha’Yeshua.
You shall draw water with joy from the wells of salvation!
La’Adonai Ha’Yeshua, al amcha birchatecha. Selah.
Adonai Tzeva’ot imanu, misgav lanu Elohei Ya’akov. Selah!
Salvation belongs to the Lord; may Your blessings be upon Your people. Selah! The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is a refuge for us. Selah!
Adonai Tze’vaot, ashrei adam botei’ach bach.
O Lord of hosts, blessed and joyous is the man who trusts in you!
Adonai, ho’shia, ha’melekh ya’aneinu be’yom kareinu.
Lord, save us, may the king answer us on the day that we call.
La’Yehudim haita orah ve’simcha, va’sasson vikar. Ken, tihiyeh lanu.
The Jews had radiance and celebration, joy and honor. So may it be for us.
Kos Yeshuot esa, u’ve’shem Adonai ekra.
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord!
The leader then says the blessing Borei pri Ha’gaffen , but before drinking the wine passes the cup to the left hand and picks up the spice box with the right hand and recites Borei minei besamim  – blessing the Creator for His creation of the variety of spices.
Picture by New York artist Lynne Feldman, www.LynneFeldman.com
3. Spices – Besamim
This is another special moment everyone enjoys! The spice box is passed around and each one inhales the fragrance of the spices and hopes to carry the fragrance of Shabbat through the week. One Jewish explanation offered is that, here at the transition to the regular week, we lose our extra Shabbat soul and need the spices as ‘smelling salts’ to revive us! In addition, we see a beautiful Messianic connection in the Brit Chadasha:
But thanks be to God, who in Messiah always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Messiah to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.
(2 Cor. 2:14 – 16)
May our lives carry the fragrance of Yeshua, the Lord of the Sabbath; a royal fragrance that will bless and draw others to our Father God wherever He may take us.
4. Final Blessing
The leader now pronounces the final blessing, Baruch ha’mavdil bein kodesh le’chol, which praises God for enabling us to distinguish between secular and holy; sacred and profane.
Baruch Atah Adonai Elokeinu melekh ha’olam, Ha’mavdil bein kodesh le’chol
Blessed are You O Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who makes a distinction between sacred and secular.
Bein ohr le’choshekh, bein Yisrael le’amim
Between light and darkness, between Israel and the nations
Bein yom ha’shvii le’sheshet yamei ha’maaseh
Between the seventh day and the six working days
Baruch atah Adonai ha’mavdil bein kodesh le’chol.
Blessed are You, O Lord, who makes a distinction between sacred and secular.
Now the leader drinks the wine or grape juice – at least 2 oz. – and the candle is extinguished in the spilled wine in the plate.
And everyone says…”Shavua tov!” Have a good week!
1. The full Havdalah ceremony can be found in the Jewish Siddur (Prayer book).
Blessing on Lighting the Candle:
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam, Borei Me’orei ha’esh.
Blessed are You O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who creates the illuminations of the fire.
All respond: Amen.
2. Blessing over the Wine:
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu, Melech ha’olam, Borei pri ha’gaffen.
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.
All respond: Amen.
3. Blessing over the Spices:
Baruch Atah Adonai ELoheinu, Melech ha’olam, Borei minei besamim.
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of many spices.
All respond: Amen.