Havdalah - A division between the spiritual and mundane

This post is dedicated in memory of Etya Sarah bat Isaac ha-Levi. May it be an aliyah for                                                                 her neshama.
By Elisheva Maline

G-d commanded us to guard the laws of the Sabbath, "Remember the Shabbos to keep it holy" (Exodus). How do we keep it holy? By "resting" and abstaining from work, as G-d did. This way we acknowledge our belief in the six days of creation and that G-d creates and sustains the world continually. 

In Judaism, we have a rule about setting aside customs and practices which are holy, or sanctified, as a contrasting standard to mundane activities, all of which can be uplifted as a result of one's attitude toward the former. This is why Jewish philosophy mentions that however much effort one puts into making a wholly spiritual experience out of Shabbos will be successful at including G-d in the every day practices of the coming week. This is why we close the door on school and work when Shabbos arrives. Instead, we sit with family and friends, learn Torah and make sure our conversation is centered around lofty ideas and concepts.

How do we tangibly make the switch between weekday and weekend, though? On erev Shabbos (Friday afternoon) we greet the Shabbos by lighting candles. On motzei Shabbos (Saturday night) we escort the Shabbos queen out by performing a ceremony called havdalah (division). Havdalah is the manifest contrast between Shabbos and the weekday, as well as between light and dark, clarity and confusion.  
As I explain the technicalities behind the havdalah ceremony, you will notice what significance there is in a ritual which was designed for aiding one's departure from a totally spiritual atmosphere to one that is far more materialistic. In order to perform the ceremony, you will need three things: wine or grape juice, spices (we generally use cloves or cinnamon) and a double wicked candle (in a pinch, people grab two matches).

Havdalah should be performed no earlier than nightfall on Shabbos night (Saturday) when there are at least three medium sized stars in the sky. This is usually 45 minutes to an hour after sundown, depending on your topographic location. 

I copied down the following procedure for the recitation of the havdalah itself from Aish's domain site. The havdalah blessing is made up of five sections. There is Hebrew, transliteration and the English translation.

(1) The introductory paragraph.

Hinei El yeshuati, evtach velo efchad, ki ozi vezimrat yah, Adonai vayehili liyeshuah. Ushavtem mayim besasson mima’anei hayeshuah. La’Adonai hayeshuah, al amcha virchatecha, selah. Adonai tzeva’ot imanu, misgav lanu, Elohay Ya’akov, selah. Adonai tzeva’ot, ashray adam botayach bach. Adonai hoshi’ah, hamelech ya’anaynu veyom koraynu. Layehudim hayetah orah vesimcha vesason vikar. Kain tehiyeh lanu. Kos yeshuot esa uveshaym Adonai ekrah.

Behold, God is my savior, I will trust God and not be afraid, for my strong faith and song of praise for God will be my salvation. You will draw water joyously from the wellsprings of salvation. Salvation is the God’s; may Your blessing rest upon Your people. God of the heavenly armies is with us; the Lord of Ya’akov is a fortress protecting us. God of the heavenly armies, happy is the individual who trusts You. God, redeem us! The King will answer us on the day we call God. The Jews had light, happiness, joy and honor; may we have the same. I will raise the cup of salvation and call out in the name of the God.

(2) The blessing over wine: Fill the cup to overflowing; it is a symbol of abundant blessing for the week to come. Just as the grape's value is raised through its being squeezed and turned into wine we hope to transform the weekday into as spiritual an experience as Shabbos. 

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּֽפֶן.
Baruch atah, Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha’olam, boray pri hagafen.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine.

(3) The blessing over the spices: the Kabbalists tell us that once Shabbos comes in, every Jew receives an extra neshama (soul) called the bina yesirah. When she leaves, this extra neshama departs with her. Since the sudden feeling of bereavement might leave the spiritually sensitive faint fragrant spices (a substitute for smelling salts) were added to the havdalah ceremony.  

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא מִינֵי בְשָׂמִים. 
Baruch atah, Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha’olam, boray minay vesamim.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, Creator of the different spices.

(4) The blessing over the flame: The candle should be lit throughout all the blessings. When the person reciting havdalah gets to the bracha (blessing) over the candle, someone should hold the candle aloft while all participants hold their fingers up so that their nails are reflected in the glow. Some shut off all the lights so that the flame's shine is more emphasized. The distinction between light and dark, spirituality and physicality show up in this bracha.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא מְאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ.
Baruch atah, Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha’olam, boray me’oray ha’aysh.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, Creator of the fire’s lights.

(5) The blessing on the division between Shabbos and the weekday.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, הַמַּבְדִיל בֵּין קֹֽדֶשׁ לְחוֹל, בֵּין אוֹר לְחֹֽשֶׁךְ, בֵּין יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַמִּים, בֵּין יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי לְשֵֽׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה. בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, הַמַּבְדִיל בֵּין קֹֽדֶשׁ לְחוֹל.
Baruch atah, Adonai, Elohaynu melech ha’olam, hamavdil bayn kodesh lechol bayn or lechoshech bayn Yisrael la’amim bayn yom hashevi’i leshayshet yemay hama’aseh. Baruch atah, Adonai, hamavdil bayn kodesh lechol.
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who separates between the holy and the profane; between the light and dark; between Israel and the other nations; between the seventh day and the six days of the week. Blessed are You, God, who separates between the holy and the profane.

 Enjoy the video. Netanel Hershtik is renowned for his skills as a cantor.

No comments:

Yashar LaChayal

The majesty of the Western Wall

Nefesh B'Nefesh