Havdalah – Saying Good-Bye to Shabbat

We’ll learn about the havdalah ceremony and its different components.

Resource Ages: 9-11

Source

Sephardic introduction:

I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of God.

Please, God, save us.

Please, God, help us to succeed.

Help us to succeed. May our paths be successful, may our learning be successful.

Send blessing, benefit and success for all that we do.

As it is written: Blessings will come from God and justice from God who saves us.

For the Jews, there was light and happiness, joy and honor.

As it is written: “David was wise in all of his ways and God was with him.”

And so may God be with us

כּוֹס יְשׁוּעוֹת אֶשָּׂא וּבְשֵׁם ה’ אֶקְרָא:

אָנָּא ה’ הוֹשִׁיעָה נָא.

אָנָּא ה’ הַצְלִיחָה נָא:

הַצְלִיחֵנוּ. הַצְלִיחַ דְּרָכֵינוּ. הַצְלִיחַ לִמּוּדֵינוּ.

וּשְׁלַח בְּרָכָה רְוָחָה וְהַצְלָחָה בְּכָל מַעֲשֵׂה יָדֵינוּ. כְּדִכְתִיב: יִשָּׂא בְרָכָה מֵאֵת ה’, וּצְדָקָה מֵאֱ-לֹהֵי יִשְׁעוֹ:

לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה. וְשָׂשֹׂן וִיקָר:

וּכְתִיב: וַיְהִי דָוִד לְכָל דְּרָכָיו מַשְׂכִּיל. וה’  עִמּוֹ: כֵּן יִהְיֶה עִמָּנוּ:

Ashkenazi introduction:

Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid. God is my strength and my song and God will be my salvation.

From the springs of salvation, you will draw water with joy.

Salvation is the God’s; Your blessing will be upon Your people.

God of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

God of hosts, happy is the person who trusts in You. God, save! The Sovereign will answer us on the day that we call.

For the Jews, there was light and happiness, joy and honor. So may it be for us.

I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of God.

הִנֵּה אֵל יְשׁוּעָתִי, אֶבְטַח וְלֹא אֶפְחָד,

כִּי עָזִּי וְזִמְרָת יָהּ ה’, וַיְהִי לִי לִישׁוּעָה.

וּשְׁאַבְתֶּם מַיִם בְּשָׂשׂוֹן, מִמַּעַיְנֵי הַיְשׁוּעָה.

לַיהוה הַיְשׁוּעָה, עַל עַמְּךָ בִרְכָתֶךָ סֶּלָה.

ה’ צְבָאוֹת עִמָּנוּ, מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶלָה.

ה’ צְבָאוֹת אַשְׁרֵי אָדָם בֹּטֵחַ בָּך.

ה’ הוֹשִׁיעָה, הַמֶּלֶךְ יַעֲנֵנוּ בְיוֹם קָרְאֵנו.

לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשׂוֹן וִיקָר. 

כֵּן תִּהְיֶה לָּנוּ.

כּוֹס יְשׁוּעוֹת אֶשָּׂא וּבְשֵׁם ה’ אֶקְרָא.

Blessing over the wine:

Blessed are You our God, Sovereign of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,  בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הַגָּפֶן.

Blessing over the spices fragrant leaves:

Blessed are You our God, Sovereign of the universe, who creates all kinds of spices / plants with fragrant leaves.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא (עֲצֵי/ עִשְׂבֵי/ מִינֵי) בְשָׂמִים.

Blessing over the candle:

Blessed are You our God, Sovereign of the universe, who creates the lights of fire.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם,  בּוֹרֵא מְאוֹרֵי הָאֵשׁ.

Blessed are You our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who separates the holy from the ordinary, light from darkness, Israel from the other nations, and the seventh day from the six days of work. 

Blessed are You God, who separates the holy from the ordinary.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱ-לֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, 

הַמַּבְדִּיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחֹל,

בֵּין אוֹר לְחשֶׁךְ,

וּבֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַמִּים,

וּבֵין יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי לְשֵׁשֶׁת יְמֵי הַמַּעֲשֶׂה.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’, הַמַּבְדִּיל בֵּין קֹדֶשׁ לְחֹל.

Foundations for Planning

Essential Questions

  • How are symbols used in celebrations and holidays?
  • Why are holidays, rituals, customs, important to me, my family, and my community? 
  •  How do family traditions play an important role in our lives?

Content Questions Related to the Essential Questions

  • How can the havdalah ceremony help us with the transition between Shabbat and the rest of the week?
  • How do our senses help us to hold on to memories?

Background for Teacher

Havdalah is the traditional ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat. The word havdalah literally means separation and, through the havdalah ceremony, we separate Shabbat from the rest of the week. The havdalah ceremony includes elements that parallel elements of the rituals we use...

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Havdalah is the traditional ceremony that marks the end of Shabbat. The word havdalah literally means separation and, through the havdalah ceremony, we separate Shabbat from the rest of the week. The havdalah ceremony includes elements that parallel elements of the rituals we use to welcome Shabbat. Just as we welcome Shabbat by lighting candles, we use the havdalah candle to part from Shabbat. We make a blessing over wine on Friday night, as Shabbat starts, and we also make a blessing over wine when Shabbat ends. These parallel actions help to mark the start and end of Shabbat, like a pair of parentheses surrounding this special day.

Many senses are involved in the havdalah ceremony and this makes it a powerful experience: taste (the wine), sight (the candle), smell (the spices) and hearing.

The language of the ceremony focuses on a wish for salvation and a request for success. These words may express the difficult feelings that a person can experience as they move from the relaxation of Shabbat to feelings of insecurity and concerns regarding the new week and its challenges.

The last part of the ceremony emphasizes the importance of distinctions in our lives: between light and darkness, between the holy and the ordinary, and between Israel and other nations.

It is customary to mention the prophet Elijah in songs that accompany the havdalah ceremony. Elijah is a symbol of salvation and by mentioning him we express a hope for good days of peace and serenity.

Optional Hooks
In-Depth Discussion
Suggested Activities
Further Study
How to Do It?
  • Think about a situation in which you were separated from someone you care about for a period of time (a family member or friend). How did you feel? Did you do anything to make the situation easier?
  • Leaving a person or place that you care about can be hard. What can you do to make that separation easier? (Examples of situations: the last day of camp, before going back to school at the end of summer vacation, saying good-bye to your grandparents at the end of a visit.)
  • Introduce your students to the havdalah ceremony: Play audio or video recordings of the ceremony. Here are two suggestions: an Ashkenazi havdalah with musical accompaniment and a Mizrachi havdalah. You can also show them a video of the ceremony.
    Questions to accompany the video, before or after viewing: What’s the mood of the ceremony? What actions are done? What do you think the different actions symbolize? What part of the ceremony surprised you? Even without understanding the literal meaning of the word havdalah, how do the symbols and sounds of the ceremony make you feel?

Click here to view our consolidated list of suggested interactive pedagogies for classroom discussion.

  1. The spices in the havdalah ceremony are meant to remind us of the sweetness of Shabbat and to help us to overcome our feelings of missing Shabbat during the week. Why do you think that a good smell reminds us of Shabbat?
  2. Why do you think there is a ceremony to say good-bye to Shabbat? Surely we could just say, “Shabbat is over.” What does the ceremony add? If during the hook activities the students mentioned things they have done when saying good-bye to someone they love, remind them of those things that they mentioned and connect them to the idea of separating from Shabbat through specific actions.
  3. What are the main ideas expressed in the havdalah ceremony?
  4. Why are ceremonies important in our lives?
  5. Why do you think the wish for salvation is such a central component of this ceremony? Why do you think people may feel a need to express this wish specifically at the end of Shabbat?
  6. There is a saying  “Every end is a new beginning.” What does this saying mean? How does it relate to the havdalah ceremony? Sometimes, people are happy that they have reached the end of something and sometimes they are sad. Give examples of each of those types of situations.
  7. In the havdalah ceremony, we make a separation between the holy and the ordinary. Ask the students: What makes something holy?
  • Do havdalah together as a class. At the end, ask each student to mention something they are looking forward to in the coming week, or a hope that they have. If you sing the words “Shavua tov, shavua tov” you can ask the students to fill in the sentence, for example “a week in which …”.  If you use the Sephardic version you can use language similar to that used in the text and ask the students to fill in the sentence: “May our …. be successful”.
  • Make a mat to be used as part of a havdalah set. Decorate it with images and ideas related to Shabbat. If possible, make the components of a havdalah set.
  • Shoot a video of havdalah in the classroom. Alternatively, you could prepare a presentation or video in which images and ideas that students see as characteristic of the specialness of Shabbat are presented together with the footage of the havdalah ceremony.
  • Finding our strengths: The mention of the prophet Elijah — a sort of Jewish superhero with magical powers — in the havdalah ceremony is meant to fortify us as we approach the coming week. What strengths do we want to take with us from Shabbat, to help us during the week? (See the attached worksheet.)
    Stop for a moment and think about the challenges you expect to face in the new week. As you think about all of the things that you need to do over the course of the week, what gives you strength?
  • To connect the lesson with home and the actual end of Shabbat, you can make an object for students to take home with them that they can smell at the end of Shabbat, even if they do not have a havdalah ceremony at home. This way, they can hold onto the “smell of Shabbat” a bit longer. You can also make different types of spice boxes. Fill your spice box with pleasant smells and words that will give you strength during the coming week.
  • Video with short explanations, produced by Taglit and Moishe House
  • Video of a havdalah ceremony led by Cantor Netanel Hershtik and the Maccabeats
    This video includes pictures of havdalah ceremonies around the world: New York, London, Buenos Aires, Sydney, etc.
  • Video of a Mizrachi havdalah ceremony — Moshe Chavusha with the Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef