Havdalah – end of the Sabbath

Havdalah Service
Havdalah is a very old tradition among the Jewish people, the purpose of which is to mark the end of the Sabbath and the beginning of the next week. Just as we have a special service around our dinner table to welcome in the Shabbat on Erev Shabbat (Friday night), so also we have a meaningful ceremony to bring the day to a close. We greeted one another as Shabbat came in with, Shabbat Shalom. Now, our final words at havdalah are our way of speaking forth a blessing over each one present, as we say, Shav’uah Tov! (“May you have a good week”).

This ceremony uses all five senses: taste, sight, smell, hearing, and touch, to convey the message of G-d and our relationship to Him.

This is what we use:
A cup of wine (or grape juice)—filled and overflowing into a dish. This is a symbol of the joy of the Shabbat Rest of God. As we practice yielding our bodies to Messiah’s life in us, His life will flow from our innermost being. It will be His life, Mayim Chayim (Living Water), flowing from us bringing life as we serve one another. True joy comes in bringing life to each one in the community. His Word lived out is the Water transformed into “wine”—His Word transformed into our joy! We must participate in His Word for it to be transformed into our joy. We begin our service with singing, then we lift up our cup of joy to remember what this Shabbat was all about, and enter the week now facing us in remembrance of these things. Just before we take a sip, we can say the traditional blessing for the wine:

Baruch attah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam borei pri hagafen.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe Who creates the fruit of the vine.

A spice box – filled with cloves, cinnamon, rosemary and lavender or something of your own choosing. You are welcome to use a jar, or a wooden box or a traditional metal container available at Judaica shops with any aromatic spices that you like. It is nice to keep the fragrance the same from week to week however, because it creates a sensory picture for our minds.

A Havdalah candle – This is a candle with many wicks, usually about 4-6. It is a very large and sometimes vibrantly colored candle. In Hebrew the Havdalah candle is called a lapidot, a plural Hebrew word for torches. The candle is lit in a darkened room, and the appropriate blessing is recited. The candle is then passed in front of each present who extend their hand toward the flame. The candle must pass close enough for each to feel its warmth. The fingers are spread to allow the rays of light to pass through the fingers. The next element in our Havdalah seder is the candle. Before it is lit the following blessing may be recited:
Baruch atah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam borei ma’oreh ha’esh.
Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe Who creates the illuminations of the fire.

As we look at the light of the candle and feel its heat, someone reads the following paragraph:
The candle, with many wicks, stands tall and bright. Together as one, we stand gazing at the blaze of light. In the light of Shabbat we have learned more of what it is to love one another, not withholding and holding back who we are one from the other. In so doing, we stand up as one into the fullness of who we are as the body of Messiah, lifting up the head, the Light of the world. It is He that brings Light into challah to be broken into small portions all around. Then, by the light of the Havdalah candle, we listen attentively as one of us reads aloud the words recorded for us in Matthew 6:25-34.

Next we all smell the sweet fragrance of the spice box by passing it around. There is also a traditional blessing that we can say before the leader takes the first sniff.

Baruch attah Adonai Eloheinu melech ha’olam borei menay b’samim.
Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe Who creates species of fragrance.

As we pass the box quietly, we inhale deeply and savor the sweet, pungent aroma. We hear the words of Romans 12:1–2 as someone reads the following paragraph:
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Our new creation lives lived out consistently before the throne of God is like a sweet smelling aroma rising to the nostrils of God as the burnt offering of the Mishkan once did. Again, yielding our members as a living sacrifice, not going the way of our flesh and thereby withholding who we really are from one another— “this is our reasonable act of worship.”

Next, another person reads or paraphrases the following paragraphs:
As at the Shabbat table we celebrated and thanked Abba for His every provision during the week, so at Havdalah we look to this new week ahead of us now by faith. Abba has faithfully provided everything that we need in order to serve Him each new day. One such provision is the God-given strength, to let Messiah’s life flow from us in order to meet any given situation that we may encounter. In addition, God has already provided what we need to obey His call in any one moment by virtue of Yeshua’s life in us and in our being His new creation. Anything that He would ask of us is not complicated nor is it beyond our reach. (Deuteronomy 30:11)

A Havdalah Seder:
We begin our service with singing. Our Congregation has a specially written song we sing every week.

Then we lift up our cup of joy to remember what this Shabbat was all about, and enter the week now facing us in remembrance of these things. Just before we take a sip, we can say the traditional blessing for the wine:

Next we all smell the sweet fragrance of the spice box by passing it around after saying the blessing. As we pass the box quietly, we inhale deeply and savor the sweet, pungent aroma. We hear the words of Romans 12:1–2

We thank Abba for His every provision during the week, so at Havdalah we look to this new week ahead of us now by faith. Participants share their stories as the torch represented by the Havdalah candle passes around the room. Each should think of the Messiah. Thoughts of His coming in power, the warmth of His presence and touch, the promise of the resurrection, the marriage that is coming, and the covenant of which He is the center. We also remember the consequences of turning away, the judgment that follows those who reject the light and covenant.

A shout of “Shavuah tov!” (have a good week) and the service ends.

Using such traditional elements is not necessary, nor commanded in the Bible. Your own community has the complete liberty and freedom to design a tailor-made seder for your own use. What is important in Havdalah, however, is for us to know how helpful it is for us as we personally prepare our lives for the coming week. Our need is to be reminded to let Messiah’s life flow forth in our earthen vessels, and to consistently make every effort to enter His rest. Havdalah has been observed since Bible times. It makes a wonderful way to end the Sabbath – and remember, it’s only six days till Shabbat!

Thanks to FFOZ for some of this information.

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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