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Havdalah is the ceremony of separation between every Shabbat and weekday, Yom Tov and weekday, or Shabbat and Yom Tov. It is recited over a cup of wine, at night, immediately following the end of Shabbat.
- There's a dispute whether Havdalah is Deoritta or Derabbanan.
Havdalah for Yom Tov
- After Yom Tov, which is followed by a regular weekday or a day of Chol HaMoed, one should say Havdalah. However, if a Yom Tov is followed by a Shabbat, there is no Havdalah.
- Havdalah at the end of Yom Tov only consists of the Bracha of HaMavdil and there is no bracha of Besamim or Ner.
When Motzei Shabbat is a Yom Tov
- If motzei shabbat is yom tov, one may use the Yom Tov candles for havdalah.
- It is preferable not to hold the two candles together.
Who is Obligated
There's a dispute whether women are obligated in Havdalah.
- Nonetheless, according to Sephardim women may make the it for themselves.
- Some Ashkenazim hold that women should not recite Havadalah for themselves, while many others say that if a woman can not find someone to hear Havdalah from, she should recite Havdalah for herself. Some say that a woman can even say the beracha on the fire. Others disagree.
- Once a child has reached the age of Chinuch (5 or 6) the parents should train him in hearing havdalah 
Havdalah in Davening
- See the Atta Chonantanu page.
- If Motzei Shabbat is a Yom Tov, in middle of Atta Bechartanu, one should insert VeTodiyanu in place of Atta Chonantanu.
The Order of Havdalah
- The order of the Brachot of Havdalah is Yayin (Hagefen), Besamim, Ner (Meorei HaEsh), Havdalah (Hamavdil).
- The custom is to add several pesukim prior to Havdalah for a good sign. For the full Ashkenazic text see here. For the full Sephardic text see here.
- If the cup of havdalah falls and spills out completely they should get a new cup of wine and recite a new hagefen. If they already got involved in another activity (hesech hadaat) they need to recite havdalah again.
Havdalah recited by the cantor
- The cantor recites Havdalah in the synagogue on behalf of those who have no wine or who will not recite Havdalah for himself in his home. Whoever wishes to can listen to the cantor's Havdalah in the synagogue and fulfill his obligation, even thought the listener is not holding a cup of wine. It is a widespread minhag ion our times for the cantor to recite Havdalah in synagogue, and there is no need to protest the custom. It should be made clear to the congregation, however, that everyone must recite Havdalah at home on behalf of his family members who have not heard it in the synagogue, even though he himself did hear it.
- The cantor must sit down when he recites Havdalah in the synagogue, and all those of he congregation who wish to fulfill their obligation by listening to him must sit while he recites it.
- The opinion of the Geonim is that whoever recites Kiddush or Havdalah must drink at least melo lugmav of the wine, and if he does not he has not fulfilled his obligation of Kiddush or of Havdalah. A person should be strict for this opinion. Therefore the person who is chosen to recite Havdalah in the synagogue must be someone who will be able to drink melo lugmav. If the only person capable of reciting Havdalah is someone who cannot drink that much wine, then he should recite Havdalah, taste a sip of the wine, and then give it to another person who can drink melo lugmav. He should inform that person beforehand that he should have in mind when listening to the blessing of boreh peri hagefen that he will drink from the cup afterward.
- if someone is not sure whether or not he will have wine available for Havdalah, he should listen to the cantor recite Havdalah in the synagogue, but he should stipulate in his mind that he wishes to fulfill his obligation only if he has no wine at home, but that if he does find wine at home he does not wish to fulfill his obligation in the synagogue. Then, if he finds that there is wine available at home, he may recite Havdalah for himself in accordance with the condition he made.
Wine or other drinks
- If one has wine, wine has precedence over any other drink. Red wine should be used, but white wine is permissible if only white wine is available.
- One may use grape juice for Havdalah.
- The one reciting havdalah initially should drink a reviyit in order to recite a bracha achrona. After the fact, if they drank a melo lugmav it is sufficient. If someone drank only a tiny sip of the wine and not a melo lugmav, some say that they did not fulfill their obligation even after the fact, while others hold that one fulfilled the mitzvah but just not in the ideal way.
- Those listening to the havdalah initially should not talk until after the one who recited havdalah drank melo lugmav. After the fact, if they talked after he drank a sip they fulfilled their obligation.
If there is no wine or grape juice
- For Havdalah if there is no wine or grape juice available one can use chamar medina. What is chamar medina?
- Chamar Medina includes beer or cognac and does not include soda, lemonade, or water. Sephardim hold that coffee, tea, orange juice can not be used as chamar medina. Chamar medina is still relevant today.
- According to Ashkenazim, juice, coffee, or tea could be chamar medina, while milk or oil are not.
- One may not use soda because soda isn't considered Chamar Medina.
- The Ashkenaz minhag is to make Boreh Minei Besamim (בורא מיני בשמים) which is the general Bracha for nice smells at Havdalah no matter what’s being used for besamim. Ideally, one should use a besamim spice that is indeed minei besamim, such as cloves.
- According to Sephardim, one should make the appropriate Bracha for that besamim. There is a Sephardic practice to use hadasim when possible.
- Someone who can't smell should not recite Besamim unless he is fulfilling the obligation of someone who can smell.
- If someone doesn't have fragrant spices for besamim one doesn't have to go out of his way to get them and can recite havdalah without them.
- If someone made havdalah without spices and gets spices later on Motzei Shabbat he can recite the bracha of besamim on them at that point.
- If one isn't sure if the spice has a smell may smell it in advance without a bracha. If the spice container is old and in fact doesn't smell and one only realizes after the bracha, the bracha he recited is invalid and the hagefen was also interrupted. Therefore, he should recite another hagefen and a new besamim on another spice if it is available.
- The minhag is to look at one's fingernails during the havdalah in order to indicate that one is getting benefit from the candle to see the difference between one's nails and flesh.
- A person needs to be able to benefit from the fire in order to recite the bracha over it. Therefore, some turn off the electric lights when making Havdalah, but others hold that the strict halacha doesn't require turning off the lights.
- Some poskim allow one to use an electric light in place of a Havdala candle in a time of need. In fact, it is reported that Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky would always use an electric bulb for Havdala in order to demonstrate how strongly he felt that electricity is to be treated exactly like fire from the perspective of halacha.
- Nevertheless, there are those authorities who discourage the use of an electric light for Havdala. Among their opposition to is the fact that the blessing recited upon the Havdala candle includes the word "fire" which seems to imply the need for actual fire, not merely light. As such a light bulb would not be acceptable according to this view. Even among the authorities who permit the use of electric lighting when needed many would disqualify the use of fluorescent bulbs as they work differently than standard light bulbs.
Saying Havdalah Early
- If one is has an extreme need such as a need to travel to the end of the Techum for the purpose of a mitzvah after Shabbat one may pray Arvit starting from Plag Mincha (ten and three quarter hours into the day). In such a case one may also say Havdalah early but one may not say the Bracha on the candle (Meorei HaEsh). Even in such a case it is certainly forbidden to do Melacha (activity which is forbidden on Shabbat) until Tzet HaKochavim.
Until When Can One Say Havdalah?
- If one forgot to say Havdalah on Motzei Shabbat one can say it until Tuesday.
Standing or Sitting for Havdalah
- According to Sephardim, one should sit during Havdalah. However, the Ashkenazic minhag is to stand during Havadalah.
Doing Work before making Havdalah
- Before one says Havdalah, one may not doing any Melacha. If one made Havdalah in Tefillah, one may do Melacha. If one needs to do Melacha before saying Havdalah in Tefillah, one should say "HaMavdil Ben Kodesh LeChol" (which is not a bracha) and then do Melacha.
- One shouldn't say "Baruch hamavdil ben kodesh lechol" in a bathroom. If one needs to, one should say "Hamavdil ben kodesh lchol" without the word baruch.
- One may not eat until one made Havdalah over a cup of wine. This prohibition begins from after sunset even though it is halachically twilight.
- It is permissible to use a non-religious Jewish taxi driver on Motzei Shabbat even though the taxi-driver didn't make Havdalah.
- Understanding Havdalah on Motzai Shabbos by Rabbi Shay Schachter
- Havdalah by Rabbi Hershel Schachter
- Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 29:1) writes that the command of "Zachor Et Yom HaShabbat" (Shemot 20:7) includes the positive mitzvahs of Kiddish and Havdalah every week. Other Rishonim that agree with Rambam include Ravi’ah Brachot 3:1, Ritvah as quoted by the Nimukei Yosef Pesachim 55, and Sefer Hachinuch Mitvah 31. However, Tosfot (Tosfot Nazir 4a s.v. My Hee in name of Rabbenu Tam) and the Rosh (Sh"t 11:3) hold that Havdalah is Derabbanan. Mishna Brurah 296:1 quotes both opinions and adds that if one said Havdalah in Tefillah the Havdalah on the wine is certainly Derabbanan.
- Mishna Chullin 26b, Gemara Shabbat 114b, Rambam Shabbat 5:21 and 29:18, Shulchan Aruch 491:1
- Shulchan Aruch 491:1, Mishna Brurah 491:1
- Or Letzion (v. 3, 18:6)
- Or Letzion (v. 3, 18:6) based on Biur Halacha 514:2 s.v. veyechabeh. Yom Tov Sheni Khilchato ch. 1 fnt. 67 quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Moshe Feinstein (quoted from Rav Efraim Greenblatt) as explaining that although generally we prefer to use a torch with two or more wicks for havdalah, on Yom Tov we avoid this. The reason is that on yom tov holding two candles together is likely going to come to an issue of extinguishing one of the candles more quickly. Even if they are touching it is permitted to detach them. Yet he also cites Rabbi Eider (Halachos of Shabbos 266 fnt. 34) in the name of Rav Moshe permits putting them together. He concludes with a citation of Rabbi Akiva Eiger OC 669 and YD 1 that even on a regular motzei Shabbat two candles next to one another is sufficient, yet we don't generally follow that opinion (Magen Avraham 298:4).
- Sh"t Yechave Daat 4:27. Rambam (Hilchot Shabbat 29:1) writes that the Havdalah is a positive command just like Kiddish. Maggid Mishna (Hilchot Shabbat 29:1) implies from the Rambam that women are obligated in Havdalah just like they are obligated in Kiddish. Maggid Mishna suggests that even according to those who argue on the Rambam, women can be obligated if the rabbis instituted Havdalah to be just like Kiddish. Orchot Chaim (Hilchot Havdalah 18; quoted by Bet Yosef 296:8) writes that because there's a dispute whether women are obligated women shouldn't make Havdalah for themselves. Nonetheless, Shulchan Aruch 296:8 rules as Stam (anonymous opinion) that women are obligated in Havdalah.
- The Rama 296:8 states that women shouldn't recite Havdalah for themselves. The Bach argues that for Ashkenazim there is an additional reason to permit women to make the bracha considering that Ashkenazim allow one to make a bracha even for Mitzvot that one is not obligated in such as lulav. Magen Avraham 296:11 agrees. Mishna Brurah 296:35 concludes that a woman should not recite Havdalah for herself unless she can't find someone to hear Havdalah from. In 296:36 he writes that certainly a woman should recite it for herself if she can't find someone else to recite for her, or the only person available to say it for her already fulfilled his obligation. See audio shiur by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz.
- Sh"t Iggerot Moshe CM 2:47:2, Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 14:43, Sh"t Yechave Daat 4:27
- Shemirat Shabbat Kihilchita 58:16
- Yalkut Yosef Dinei Chinuch Katan pg. 177
- Shulchan Aruch 491:2, Mishna Brurah 491:4. see Vetodienu
- Shulchan Aruch 296:1
- *The Ashkenazic custom is to say the following text before Havdalah: הנה אל ישועתי אבטח ולא אפחד כי עזי וזמרת יה יהוה ויהי לי לישועה: ושאבתם מים בששון ממעיני הישועה: ליהוה הישועה על עמך ברכתך סלה: יהוה צבאות עמנו משגב לנו אלהי יעקב סלה: יהוה צבאות אשרי אדם בטח בך: יהוה הושיעה המלך יעננו ביום קראנו: ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששן ויקר, כן תהיה לנו: כוס ישועות אשא ובשם יהוה אקרא:
- The source for the Ashkenazic text is the following: the Rama 296:1 writes that before the Bracha of Havdalah one should say Yishaya 12:2-3, Ester 8:16, Tehillim 116:13. The Aruch HaShulchan 296:8 adds 4 more pesukim after the ones in Yishaya from Tehillim 3:9, 46:8, 84:13, and 20:10. He also adds that after Ester 8:16 one should say 'כן תהיה לנו'.
- The Sephardic custom is to say the following text before Havdalah: כוס ישועות אשא ובשם ה' אקרא: אנא ה' הושיעה נא אנא ה' הצליחה נא: הצליחנו הצליח דרכינו הצליח לימודינו וכו' ושלח ברכה רוחה והצלחה בכל מעשה ידינו כדכתיב ישא ברכה מאת ה' וצדקה מאלהי ישענו: ליהודים היתה אורה ושמחה וששק ויקר: וכתיב ויהי דוד לכל דרכיו משכיל וה' עמו, כן יהיה עמנו תמיד: ונח מצא חן בעיני ה', כן נמצא חן ושכל טוב בעיני אלוקים ואדם: אלהא דמאיר עננו: ואתם הדבקים בה' אלוקיכם חיים כולכם היום:
- The source for the Sephardic text is the following: Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat, vol 1, pg 449-50) writes that the Sephardic minhag is to say the following order before Havdalah: Tehillim 116:13, 118:25, a prayer beginning with הצליחנו and ending with a Tehillim 24:5, Ester 8:16, Shmuel 1:18:14, Beresheet 6:8, a prayer beginning with אלהא דמאיר, and Devarim 4:4.
- Piskei Teshuvot 296:11
- Yalkut Yosef, Siman 295, Halacha 1
- Yalkut Yosef, Siman 295, Halacha 2
- Yalkut Yosef, Siman 295, Halacha 3
- Yalkut Yosef, Siman 295, Halacha 4
- Mishan Brurah 296:8
- Chazon Ovadia, Hilchot Shabbat, Chelek 2, Page 82
- Chazon Ovadia, Hilchot Shabbat, Chelek 2, Page 408 writes that grape juice is practically like wine and is thus more preferable than chamar medina; Chazon Ovadia v. 1 p. 99 writes that grape juice is fit for kiddush and havdalah based on the Gemara Bava Batra 97a. He ends that even though it is pasteurized it is still like wine for all intents and purposes since it tastes like non-fermented wine (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 272:3). This is also in Yalkut Yosef 202 fnt. 8. Listen to Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Matot Masei 5778 min 36) who seems to contradict this as he says that grape juice is unfit for havdalah.
- Mishna Brurah 296:9, Shemirat Shabbat Kehilchata 60:36
- Shulchan Aruch Harav 190:4, Pri Megadim EA 271:24, Aruch Hashulchan 296:15, Kaf Hachaim 296:16, Or Letzion 2:20:7, Tzitz Eliezer 19:21:1, Yachava Daat 3:40, Yalkut Yosef (Shabbat 1-4, 5773 edition, 296:27), Piskei Teshuvot 296:11, and Rav Ben Tzion Felman in Moriya (257-259 p. 114) quoting Rav Aryeh Leib Shteinmann. Avnei Darech 9:40 rules that after the fact if the one who made havdalah didn't drink the wine those who heard fulfill their mitzvah and if they want to be machmir to hear havdalah again from someone else they can. He cites Migdanot Eliyahu 2:24 quoted Rashi, Raavan, and Baal Haitur that melo lugmav isn't maakev for havadalah. He quotes several other sources to this effect: Kaf Hachaim 296:15, Me'at Mayim 73, and Pekudat Eliezer 271 s.v. vtzarich li iyun.
- Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:257
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 296:2
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 296:2 writes that one may make Havdalah on beer if it is Chamar Medina or other drinks besides for water. Birkei Yosef 296:3 clarifies that the Shulchan Aruch's language of "or other drinks" didn't mean to include milk and oil, but rather he meant other types of Chamar Medina and exclude water even if the people of the town only drink water. Sh"t Igrot Moshe 2:75 rules that since soda is just like water, it isn't Chamar Medina, and thus, can not be used for Havdalah. Sh"t Vayan Avraham (Izrael) Siman 34 (pg 63) writes that he remembers in the holocaust the question arose whether lemonade could be used for Havdalah and he concludes that it just like water and can’t be used for Havdalah. Halachot Ketanot 1:9 writes that Chamar Medina must have alhocol and so coffee is not Chamar Medina. Yalkut Yosef 296:8 writes that one may not use coffee, tea, orange juice, or soda for Havdalah, but one if there's no wine in the city, one may use beer or cognac which are considered Chamar Medina; Chazon Ovadia, Hilchot Shabbat, Chelek 2, Page 408 specifies that coffee, tea, milk, and fruit juice are not considered chamar medina, and therefore one may not make havdalah with them. More sources can be found in Yabia Omer OC 3:19 for this approach.
- Rav Chaim Kanievsky in Kovetz Teshuvot 1:57 asked Rav Elyashiv whether a sick person could recite havdalah on tisha b'av on wine or chamar medina. Rav Elyashiv responded that they should use beer or another drink. Rav Chaim responded that the Chazon Ish thought that nowadays nothing including beer is chamar medina since wine is so common and even orange juice he was hesitant to allow using it as chamar medina.
- As for the definition of chamar medina Mishnah Brurah 272:24 says that even beer is only permitted in a place where it is a common drink. Mishna Brurah 272:25 prohibits the use of milk or oil, and Mishna Brurah 272:30 permits the use of liquor. Rav Avigdor Neventzahl in Biyitzchak Yikare footnote 25 says that according to Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach milk is not allowed even in places where it is commonly used like Switzerland. He also says that juice, tea, or coffee maybe permitted but soda is definitely not because it is just like water. Rav Moshe Feinstein in Iggerot Moshe OC 2:75 defines chamar medina as something you would serve to guests who you want to show respect to. Tzitz Eliezer 8:16 and 14:42 allows using coffee, tea, or milk as chamar medina when there is no wine available. Igrot Moshe 2:75 says that in an extenuating circumstance tea or milk could be used as chamar medina.
- Sh"t Igrot Moshe 2:75 rules that soda is just like water and can not be used for Kiddish. Rav Avigdor Neventzahl in Biyitzchak Yikare 272 fnt. 25 agrees.
- Mishna Brurah 297:1, Vezot HaBracha (pg 181, chapter 19), The Radiance of Shabbos p. 131
- Mishna Brurah 297:1, Vezot HaBracha (pg 181, chapter 19)
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 297:4
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 297:5, The Radiance of Shabbos p. 131
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 297:1, The Radiance of Shabbos p. 130
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 299:5 rules that the mitzvah of besamim is only on Motzei Shabbat. The Radiance of Shabbos p. 131 adds that if it was omitted in havdalah it can be recited afterwards until Olot Hashachar based on the Eshel Avraham.
- The Radiance of Shabbos p. 132 citing Kaf Hachaim 216:3. He adds that this was the practice of Rav Moshe Feinstein to smell the besamim before the havdalah to check if it smelled.
- The Radiance of Shabbos p. 133
- Tur and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 298:3, Zohar 2:208b:2
- Rivevot Efraim 2:115:32 citing Teshuvot Vehanhagot 6:90
- Chazon Ovadia Shabbat v. 2 p. 439, Yalkut Yosef 298:10 Shabbat v. 1 p. 477. Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Matot Masei 5778 min 49) said that the strict halacha doesn't require a person to turn off the electric lights since if all that is required is that if the lights were to be off it would be possible to benefit from the candle and see the difference between coins which is possible from a distance.
- Shaarim Metzuyanim Behalachah 96:6, Az Nidberu 8:2, Rivevot Ephraim 3:599. see also Mishpitei Uziel OC 1:9
- Shaarim Metzuyanim Behalachah 96:6. Sh"t Nachalat Shimon 15 says this was the practice of Rav Chaim Soloveitchik
- Har Tzvi 2:114, Sh"t Yechave Daat 2:39, Maharshag 2:107, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch of Rabbi Raphael Baruch Toledano pg. 323
- Hachashmal L’or Hahalacha 3:88
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 293:3
- Shulchan Aruch and Rama O.C. 299:6. Even though Rav Ovadia in Yabia Omer 6:48:13 was concerned about Safek Brachot and wrote that one couldn't say it after Sunday in Yabia Omer 7:47 he retracted and followed Shulchan Aruch since the machloket is about the Mitzvah and not the bracha. Yalkut Yosef 299:7 writes that one who recites the bracha past Sunday isn't scorned, however, on the Motzei Shabbat (Matot Masei 5778 min 44-47) shiur he seemed to support the last ruling of Rav Ovadia.
- Tosfot 43a writes that to be included in Kiddish one should sit and then asks on those who stand during Havadalah because of the same issue. Therefore, Shulchan Aruch 296:6 rules that one should sit during Havdalah. However, Rama 296:6 and the Gra (Maaseh Rav pg 103, #150) write that the Ashkenazic practice is to stand for Havdalah. Mishna Brurah 296:27 explains that the reason for the Ashkenazic minhag is to escort the Shabbat queen out and escorting must be done standing. He adds that one can fulfill the obligation of others even when standing because everyone is assembled expressed for that purpose and has Kavana to fulfill their obligation. Rav Moshe Feinstein (Teshuva Siman 3 quoted in back of Radiance of Shabbos) writes that his personal minhag was to sit like his father's minhag but because of the rishonim who hold that one may stand one should not change one's minhag.
- Shulchan Aruch O.C. 299:10. Rav Schachter (Eretz HaTzvi p. 57) permits preparing the wine for Havdalah because Hachana isn’t considered a Melacha and may be done after Shabbat before Havdalah.
- Avnei Yishpeh 6:10:1 writes that one shouldn't say hamavdil ben kodesh lechol in a bathroom since it is doing a mitzvah and similar to divrei kedusha. Dor Hamelaktim v. 2 p. 1072 quotes this from Rav Chaim Kanievsky as well. However, it quotes Minchat Shabbat who permits it.
- Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky (Kovetz Halachot Shabbat v. 1 p. 779)
- Mishna Brurah 299:1
- Magen Avraham 299:1, Mishna Brurah 299:1 unlike Taz 299:1 who allows eating during ben hashemashot.
- Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 12:37 writes that saying "Have a good week" does not fulfill the mitzvah of Havdalah. Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 11:34 and 12:38 writes that there's no an issue of asking an non-religious Jew to do work for him after Shabbat since they aren't going to say Havdalah anyway, the prohibition not to do work before Havdalah doesn't set in. Rabbi Mansour on dailyhalacha.com explains this ruling. See also Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz on yutorah.org.