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Entering Calm Through Havdalah

12/10/2021 12:03:38 PM


Rose Hornstein

Havdalah, which means "separation" is a candle lighting ceremony that marks the conclusion of Shabbat. Shabbat begins on Friday night when three stars in the sky are seen. On Saturday Shabbat ends when three stars are also seen in the sky. We celebrate the end of the weekend and the launch of the upcoming week. This special Saturday evening service uses all five of our senses, taste, smell, vision, hearing, and touch. Communities come together peacefully to delve into the right mindset for the upcoming week. It is a gentle way to include friends who are not Jewish or to inspire a new sense of spirituality into the family routine. 

Bringing our minds to a calm place isn’t always easy. We get caught up in the ups and downs of our wild week, and sometimes feel there is no escape. When I smell the spices, pull out the twisted candle I allow the Havdalah service to seep into my heart. I am now switching gears, I stop the buzz and start my relaxation. Here are some highlights of this blissful celebration, to remind you how the observance of Havdalah can change your life, or at least the end of your week. 

WINE. Since wine and/or grape juice signify sweetness in Judaism we fill up the glass all the way to the top. The upcoming week will be filled with an abundance of blessings, and we show that in our overflowing glass. The wine is used to extinguish the lights of the candle in the liquid. Wine is a symbol of joy used to sanctify the moment. Of course, take a sip after the prayer. Some celebrants dip their fingers into the wine and touch it to their eyelids to bring the power of the week into their body and foresight. 

SPICES. Smelling the spices is my favorite part of Havdalah because they smell divine and are nostalgic. The scent is invigorating, cinnamon, cloves, orange, pot-pourri or unique scents from your garden. Everyone gets a whiff which often brings on some giggles.

LIGHT. Havdalah candles are typically two toned and intertwined together. The significance of the braided candles is to show all of the different types of Jews in the world, coming together as one. If you do not have a specific Havdalah candle, you can use two candles and have the flames touch to create one. Enjoy the beauty of the candles as they sparkle. Make the area as dark as possible for extra delight. 

PRAYERS. On Havdalah, our prayers differentiate between the holy and the everyday, Shabbat from the rest of the week. The practice of saying both goodbye and hello is what makes this ten minute or so ritual inviting to all types of people.

Havdalah can change the way we deal with the hectic parts of the week. We know the struggles won’t last forever. Soon we will be clearing the way for a lovely, new week. 

Tue, March 28 2023 6 Nisan 5783