Havdalah means separation, distinguishing, setting boundaries. It begins when it's dark enough to see three stars in the sky on Saturday evening, making Shabbat about 25 hours long. We are in no hurry to end Shabbat, this time of rest, and rush back into the energy of the rest of the week.
Ritual items for the Havdalah service:
• Cup of wine or grape juice
• Braided Havdalah candle with two or more wicks intertwined
• Sweet smelling spices like cloves & cinnamon, or herbs
Havdalah is a wistful time. We're a little sad to be leaving the cozy blanket of Shabbat. During Shabbat, we have had time to unplug, notice, reflect and relax. With the aspirational ethical and spiritual principles of Shabbat, it became a tradition to sing about our redemption during Havdalah as we shift back into the ordinariness of the week.
The Talmud teaches that we receive an extra soul on Shabbat, a little more spiritual life. During Havdalah, the spices symbolize this extra soul. Even though we're sad this soul is leaving as Shabbat ends, we hang onto the memory when we smell the fragrant spices.
Adapted from: Shabbat, A Personal Guide to the Spiritual Observance of Shabbat by Rabbi Michael Lerner and the members of Beyt Tikkun
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