How to perform havdalah

Havdalah, which means “separation” is a special candle lighting ceremony that marks the conclusion of Shabbat. The service involves all the senses and is a peaceful way to get in the right headspace for the week ahead. This practice is very accessible and a great way to include family and friends who are not Jewish, or to bring spirituality into your family’s weekly routine. Here’s a guide to practicing this tradition that celebrates the end of Shabbat.

The Basics

  • Blessing the Wine: Wine and/or grape juice is often used in Judaism to signify importance. And Havdalah is no exception. You’ll need to fill up a large glass to the top, representing a cup overflowing with blessings for the coming week.
  • Spices Galore: According to Jewish tradition, we get an extra soul for the duration of Shabbat. A good smell revives you as the extra soul leaves. You can use anything you like. Try a mixture of cinnamon sticks and cloves, potpourri or, for a little DIY, cloves stuck into an orange.
  • Creating Light: Havdalah candles are typically made of braided wax with several wicks, and are usually blue and white, or multicolored. If you don’t have a Havdalah candle, no problem. You can hold birthday or Shabbat candles together—really anything with two or more flames works.
  • Holy Distinctions: Shabbat is special is because it’s different from the rest of the week. The last blessing of the Havdalah service talks about the distinction between the holy and the every day and ritualizes the transition between the two. Note: When a holiday starts on Saturday night, this blessing is different because we’re going from holy to holy instead of holy to regular.

The Ceremony

How to Lead and Participate in Havdalah

  1. Use your own Havdalah set, or improvise with a cup, spice shaker and any vessel that can hold a candle. Put these items on a flameproof plate.
  1. Pour the wine or grape juice, but don’t drink it. Light the multi-wick candle. (You may want to turn off the lights to amplify the beauty of the candle’s glow. If you’re in a group, you might gather together.)
  1. The traditional Havdalah service starts with a short paragraph praising God and calling on God’s protection, but feel free to say whatever speaks to you about the end of Shabbat, the coming week and/or gathering with loved ones.

People often sing a wordless tune to transition to the other blessings and in between the four blessings that make up the service. Altogether, the service will likely last less than 10 minutes.


Kiddush (Wine)

Hold up the kiddush cup and recite the blessing over the wine. After the blessing, put down the cup without drinking.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech Ha-olam, borei p’ri ha-gafen.

Blessed are You, Infinite One, creator of the fruit of the vine.


Hold up the spices while saying the blessing over the spices. Breathe in the scent and pass them around for everyone to enjoy the smell.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech Ha-olam borei mi-ney v’sa-mim.

Blessed are You, Source of many kinds of spices.

How to perform havdalah


Designate someone to hold the candle throughout the service, or hold up the candle so everyone can bask in the light.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav, v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Shabbat.

Blessed is the Oneness that makes us holy through commandments and commands us to kindle the light.

How to perform havdalah

Blessing of Separation

Recite the final blessing of separation.

Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech Ha-olam ha-mav’dil bein-ko-desh l’chol, bein-or l’cho-shekh, bein-yis’ra-el la-a-mim. Bein-yom hash’vi’I l’she-shet y’mey-ha-ma-a-se. Baruch atah, Adonai ha-mav’dil bein-ko-desh l’chol.

Blessed is the Oneness that makes us holy and distinguishes between the sacred and the profane, between light and darkness, between Israel and other people of the world, between the seventh day and the six days of the week.
Blessed are You, Infinite One, Who distinguishes between the sacred and the profane.

Take a sip, pour a little wine or grape juice onto the plate and extinguish the flame in the liquid.

Wrapping Up

At the end of Shabbat, we sing a song about Elijah (yes, the same one from the Passover seder). Shabbat is said to be like a taste of the world to come, so we often associate this one day a week with the Messianic age, which is when the prophet Elijah is said to come. Want to add some female stories to the service? Some people add another song about Miriam the prophet, sung to the same tune.

Concluding Havdalah

At the very end of all the blessings, wish shavua tov, a “good week,” to those around you. This greeting is typically used throughout the weekend up until Monday.

If you’d like, dip your fingers in the wine that extinguished the flame to symbolically bring Shabbat blessings into the week.

You may want to include a short song to conclude Havdalah as well, which aside from repeating “shavua tov,” several times, includes the words: “A good week, a week of peace, may gladness reign and joy increase.”

The end of the service is your chance to reflect. As Shabbat closes out, ask yourself: What are you hoping for in the week to come? What sweetness from Shabbat will you carry with you into the everyday?

Looking for more ways to bring Shabbat into your life? Here are some ways couples can bring Shabbat into their homes.

When Shabbos ends we do Havdalah differently with a child instead of an adult drinking Wine or Grape Juice. Is this correct? What are relevent Halachas to remember when doing Havdalah.

We do it too-my father has in mind he is being yotzei the child and the child has it in mind it too.

It is perfectly OK and some hold preferable to do Havdalah as you usually do.

Eishel Avraham 551; Chazon Ish (quoted in Imrei Yosher, pg. 4)

Some prefer a minor drink the wine.

The preferred minor for this purpose is a boy beyond the age of chinuch but who is not yet old enough to understand the concept of mourning the destruction of the Beis ha-Mikdash

Mishnah Berurah 551:70. [It is difficult to define the age of such a child.]

If such a child is not present, any boy under bar mitzvah age will do.

I think beer is not on the x list for the 9 days, so maybe you could use that?

Some suggest beer (or other chmar Medina)

The minhag I grew up with – and continue – is to use beer for the 9 days. I’m assuming the OP is about the 9 days, although he didn’t say.

I thought yankdownunder was referring to havdalah in general-not just the 9 days.

why don’t you ask your Rav?

I have no issues, as I use bronf’n the year round for Havdala; scotch generally and slivovits or arak on Peasch. My zeides and ihr zeides on both sides of my family were noheg thus.

1)You hold the kois in your right hand and the besamim in your left hand. If you run out of hands after those two have someone else hold the candle.

2)Then you say everything until and including borei pri hagofen.

3)You put down the besamim switch the kois to your left hand and pick the besamim back up in your right hand.

4)Then you make a borei minei besamim.

5)Then you put down the besamim hold your right hand to the fire and make a beorei meorei ha’eish.

6)Then you transfer the kois back to your right hand and conclude havdallah.

7)Sit down (if you stand) drink most of the kois.

8a)Then extinguish the candle in the puddle on your plate (if your wife doesn’t let you spill on the floor) by pouring from the kois onto the candle.

8b)If you are worried about your house burning relight the candle.

10)Make al hagefen.

11)Sing hamavdil bein kodesh lechol, change out of Shabbos clothing and have melave malka. Say gut voch to everyone.

“8b)If you are worried about your house burning relight the candle.”-thats funny cuz s/o recently told us about that and we just started doing it! I thought its very random but hey if s/o else heard of it it must be true!

I would add 9b) put the wine on your forehead and pockets…(at least this is what we do in our house)

oooh yeah i forgot about that. The sefer Minhag Yisroel Torah (I feel like I got that name wrong its a few volume set on so many minhagim and their mekoros) says that he looked for a mekor for sechel and gelt and couldn’t find any anywhere. He asked many gedolim and they didn’t know either. But he saw that they did it anyway since “minhag Yisroel Torah”.

What’s actually brought down in halachah is to “wash your eyes with the wine” to show chavivus hamitzvah. Maybe people didn’t want to burn there eyes out from the alcohol content and put it on their eyelids and their kids thought they were putting it on their foreheads etc.

I’ve also heard that there’s a minhag to put on the place where the kesher of the teffilin shel rosh is.

How to perform havdalah

Havdalah is a Hebrew word that means “separation” and is the ritual that ends Shabbat, separating it from the start of the new week. The service can take place in the home, in synagogue or in a group. A beautiful ritual, it’s a brief ceremony that uses four elements to mark the moment we sadly say goodbye to the beauty of Shabbat, and pledge to carry its gifts into the week to come.

We drink from a cup of wine – which symbolizes the joy we experienced on Shabbat. We pass a spice box (full of cinnamon or another sweet smelling spice) – which symbolizes the lingering scent of the sweetness of Shabbat. We light a multi-wicked candle – which symbolizes how our busy separate selves come together on Shabbat. The light, the wine, and spices all come together to help us carry Shabbat with us through the week until the next Shabbat. We extinguish the candle into the wine to conclude the ceremony, as a final moment of “goodbye” to Shabbat. With the singing of Shavua Tov and Eliyahu haNavi we wish each other a “good week” to come and long for a day when Shabbat won’t need to end at all!

As Shabbat ends, the Havdalah candle is lit. It is customary to raise the cup of wine or grape juice high when the last sentence is recited and then proceed to the blessings. This paragraph is a collection of Biblical verses.

הִנֵּה אֵל יְשׁוּעָתִי, אֶבְטַח וְלֹא אֶפְחָד,
כִּי עָזִּי וְזִמְרָת יָהּ יְיָ, וַיְהִי לִי לִישׁוּעָה.
וּשְׁאַבְתֶּם מַֽיִם בְּשָׂשׂוֹן, מִמַּעַיְנֵי הַיְשׁוּעָה.
לַייָ הַיְשׁוּעָה, עַל עַמְּךָ בִרְכָתֶֽךָ סֶּֽלָה.
יְיָ צְבָאוֹת עִמָּֽנוּ, מִשְׂגָּב לָנוּ אֱלֹהֵי יַעֲקֹב סֶֽלָה.
יְיָ צְבָאוֹת, אַשְרֵי אָדָם בֹּטֵֽחַ בָּךְ.
יְיָ הוֹשִֽׁיעָה, הַמֶּֽלֶךְ יַעֲנֵֽנוּ בְיוֹם קָרְאֵֽנוּ.
לַיְּהוּדִים הָיְתָה אוֹרָה וְשִׂמְחָה וְשָׂשׂוֹן וִיקָר.
כֵּן תִּהְיֶה לָּֽנוּ.
כּוֹס יְשׁוּעוֹת אֶשָּׂא, וּבְשֵׁם יְיָ אֶקְרָא.

Hinei El y’shuati, evtach v’lo efchad.
Ki ozi v’zimrat Yah Adonai vay’hi li lishuah.
Ush’avtem mayim b’sason mimaay’nei hay’shuah.
L’Adonai hay’shuah, al am’cha virchatecha, selah.
Adonai tz’vaot imanu, misgav lanu, Elohei Yaakov, selah.
Adonai tz’vaot, ashrei adam botei-ach bach!
Adonai hoshiah; haMelech yaaneinu v’yom kor’einu.

(This line is customarily recited by the participants first and then the leader repeats:)
LaY’hudim hay’tah orah v’simchah v’sason vikar; kein tih’yeh lanu.

Kos y’shuot esa, uv’shem Adonai ekra.

Behold, the God who gives me triumph! I am confident, unafraid; for Adonai is my strength and might, and has been my deliverance. Joyfully shall you draw water from the fountains of triumph, deliverance is Adonai‘s; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.
Adonai Tz’vaot is with us; the God of Jacob is our haven. Selah.
Adonai Tz’vaot. happy is the one who trusts in You. O Adonai, grant victory!
May the Sovereign answer us when we call.

(This line is customarily recited by the participants first and then the leader repeats:)
The Jews enjoyed light and gladness, happiness and honor. So may it be for us.

I raise the cup of deliverance and invoke the name of Adonai.

How to perform havdalah

So you’ve been invited to a havdalah ceremony, and aren’t sure what to expect? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is It?

Shabbat begins before sunset on Friday evening, and ends after nightfall the following night. (The time varies by location and time of year.)

After the holy day has ended, we mark its departure with a special multisensory ceremony that involves a cup of wine, sweet spices and a flame. Here is what you’ll see happen:

How to perform havdalah

The Procedure

The person leading havdalah will pick up a brimming cup of wine (or grape juice), which signifies our wish for a week overflowing with blessing, and will recite a number of faith-themed verses from the Hebrew Bible. One of these verses, a quote from the Book of Esther that “the Jews had light, gladness, joy and honor—so let it be with us,” is said aloud by everyone else as well. (Here is the transliteration: la-yehudim ha-yeta orah vesimchah vesimcha ve-sason viyekar, kayn tih-yeh la-nu. If you do not know the Hebrew, it’s okay just to listen.)

Next, he will pick up something sweet-smelling (typically cloves and/or myrtle), say a blessing (to which you respond “ amen ”), take a sniff and pass it around. When it comes to you, just take a sniff and pass it along to the next person. We do this to “revive” our souls, which have been saddened by the departure of the holy day of rest.

After everyone has had their turn, he will recite another brief blessing (again warranting an “amen” from you) and then lift up his fingers close to the flame and look at his fingernails in the candle’s glow. You can do the same. This is reminiscent of the first time Adam and Eve used fire, on the night following the first, brilliant, Shabbat of history.

How to perform havdalah

He then picks up the cup of wine and recites a final blessing, the actual havdalah, marking the division from holy and the ordinary.

After he finishes (and you say “amen”) he will sit down, drink the wine, and extinguish the flame in the wine in his saucer. Some people also have the custom to pour wine from the cup onto the saucer or directly onto the table.

Sometimes, you may observe people dipping their pinkies into the wine and brushing their wine-stained fingers against their eyebrows (to express their appreciation of the mitzvah ) or even shoving them into their pockets (expressing their wish for a successful week). Others may pick up the extinguished candle and give it a sniff (expressing their wish for improved memory for Torah study). These are among the interesting customs that have arisen around this ceremony—and there are many more. If you wonder about something you see, just ask.

How to perform havdalah

Notes for Before and After

Even though night has fallen on Saturday night, Shabbat does not leave us until we usher it out through havdalah. Thus, if you need to drive, light the fire, or do any other act forbidden on Shabbat, once Shabbat has ended, make sure to say a mini-havdalah: Baruch hamavdil bein kodesh lechol, “Blessed is He who separates between holy and profane.” You can then go about your business.

Also, havdalah is often followed by a meal known as melaveh malkah , “escorting the queen.” Enjoyed in candlelight, the meal itself is often on the lighter side, and often dairy. It may come along with storytelling and Hebrew melodies. Other than that, it’s pretty much freestyle, so just go with the flow.

How to perform havdalah

Useful Links

Did you find this informative? This is part of a series of “What to Expect” articles that offer visitors a basic understanding of Jewish rituals and traditions.

How to perform havdalah

Cloves and cinnamon are commonly used as spices during the Havdalah ceremony.

Shabbat, the weekly Jewish day of rest, is an opportunity for you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and focus on the things that matter most to you–family, community, personal growth. As the sky gets dark on Saturday evening, it can be hard to let go of this restful oasis.

Luckily, Judaism has a special ceremony that allows you to officially part with Shabbat, while expressing the hope that some of the restorative power of this special day will remain throughout the work week. This farewell ceremony is called havdalah, which literally means “separation.”

When three stars are in the sky on Saturday evening, it’s time for havdalah. You’ll need a braided candle, a spice box filled with spices, and a kiddush cup holding wine or grape juice. There?s a special blessing to recite over each of these items; the text can be found in a Jewish prayer book or here.

Gather family and/or friends together and, if you like, form a circle. To enhance the mood, you can dim or turn off the lights in the room, and have different people hold the candle, the spice box, and the kiddush cup. The havdalah blessings are recited or sung in Hebrew or English either by one person or all together.

As each blessing is said, the relevant item is made accessible to the group: The kiddush cup is held up for all to see, but the wine is not sipped until the end. The spices are passed around, and each person takes a moment to smell their sweetness. The candle is held high, and every person puts a hand up into the candle’s light, turning the hands over, palms in, and bending the fingers. Some people look into the eyes of those near them to see the light reflected there.

When the blessings are concluded, each person can take a sip from the wine or grape juice. It is customary to pour the remainder of the wine/juice into a nonflammable dish or basin in which the candle is then extinguished.

Shabbat is now officially over. Wish each other: Shavua tov! (A good week!)

Kids usually love havdalah–probably because it is short, sweet, and multi-sensory. Here are some ways you can involve your kids in this ritual, and make it even more fun:

1. Spices for All: Together with your kids, make enough small packages of cloves and cinnamon sticks so that when it’s time for the blessing over the spices, everyone can have their own. You can collect used film canisters from camera stores (yes, some people still use film in this digital age!)–these make great individually-sized spice containers. Your kids can use stickers to decorate the canisters. Little mesh bags (like these from Oriental Trading) also make great spice holders.

2. Pyrotechnics: When you’re putting out the havdalah candle at the end of the ceremony, pour whiskey or vodka into a dish and extinguish the candle in it. It will burst into a big, quick burning flame, sure to enchant the kids. Just be aware of safety–make sure all the little people stand at a distance while watching this trick.

3. Make it a Sing-a-Long: You can sing the havdalah blessings (Jewish musician Debbie Friedman wrote the music that has become classic–check it out here ). And after havdalah ends, there are some customary songs to sing like Eliyahu Hanavi and Shavua Tov–which has its own English lyrics too: “A good week, a week of peace, may gladness reign and joy increase.” After all this traditional singing, surely your crew will be ramped up for a jam session. Why not give Shabbat a lively send-off of your own?

Now’s your chance to pull out the instruments–real or toy–and sing your family’s favorite songs together.

Wine, candle, spices: a step-by-step video guide.

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Comments (8)

(8) alex, November 22, 2014 5:41 PM


Thank you for the easy-understandible well-performed video!
I’ve read how to do Havdalah but couldn’t get it before right. After watching your video now I see it!
But I assume we must stand making Havdalah and at first we must light a candle only then we pour the wine into a cup. The same like we do during Qiddush. Because Qiddush and Havdalah is the one Mitzwah.

(7) Charles T, December 29, 2011 2:08 PM

Excellent presentation-one item missing

The listteners are supposed to recite Layahudim Haita Ora etc.

(6) Meira Lerman, December 29, 2011 2:07 PM

My curiosity says: Thanks!

The lessen is short, clear and very helpful! Thank you very much.

(5) MARALYN ROSENBAUM, December 29, 2011 2:06 PM

i am very excited that i found you. i am interested in Ulpan and the prayer classes. i really want to learn how to daven in Hebrew. thank you.

(4) gordils, December 29, 2011 2:06 PM

keep up the great job your doing

(3) Chava Cohen, December 29, 2011 1:59 PM

Thank you for Pathways

Thank you for Pathways. I enjoy it very much.

(2) , June 29, 2010 4:28 PM

crystal clear

i almost ask the online Rabbi, on how Havdallah is done, because what i read in jewish 101, and what i have seen some home do is a bit different. Thanks for the Video. all questions answer for now

(1) Anonymous, January 4, 2010 2:50 AM

Please note that this page contain the name of God.
If you print it out, please treat it with appropriate respect.

If you do not have experience reading transliteration
please see the Guide to Transliteration.

The Havdalah ritual marks the end of Shabbat or a holiday. The word Havdalah means “separation,” becuse this ritual marks the separation between a special day and he rest of the week. It should be performed after nightfall, which is the time when three stars can be seen in the sky, normally 45 minutes to an hour after sundown, depending on your latitude. For the precise time when Shabbat or a holiday ends in your area, consult the OU Calendar provided by the Orthodox Union (look for the word Havdalah near the end of the list).

P’ri Hagafen: Wine

The first of the four havdalah blessings is made over wine or another liquid. If wine or grape juice is not used, you should substitute shehakol nih’yeh bid’varo (by whose will all things come to be) for borei p’ri hagafen (who creates the fruit of the vine). This is the same blessing that is traditionally recited whenever we eat or drink any grape product. Note that you do not drink the wine immediately after completing the blessing, as you usually do. The wine is held until the end of the last blessing.

if using wine or grape juice

if using other liquids

Don’t drink the wine yet!

B’samim: Spices

The second blessing is recited over fragrant spices. The spices represent a compensation for the loss of the special Shabbat or holiday spirit. The spices commonly used are cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon or bay leaves. They are commonly kept in a special decorative holder called a b’samim box or in a decorative bag. Some people stick whole cloves into an etrog after the end of Sukkot and use that for b’samim.

Eish: Fire

The third blessing is recited over the special, multi-wicked Havdalah candle. If you cannot obtain a Havdalah candle, you can hold two candles close together, so their flames overlap. I have also used party candles (long, very thin candles) that I warmed up and twisted together.

Lighting a flame is a vivid way of marking the distinction between Shabbat or holiday and the weekday, because we cannot kindle a flame on Shabbat.

After the blessing is recited, hold your hands up to the flame with curved fingers, so you can see the shadow of your fingers on your palms. This is done because it would be improper to recite a blessing for something and then not use the thing.

Havdalah: Separation

The final blessing is the havdalah blessing itself, the blessing over the separation of different things. The blessing is recited over the wine.

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.


  • 1 Obligation
    • 1.1 Havdalah for Yom Tov
    • 1.2 When Motzei Shabbat is a Yom Tov
  • 2 Who is Obligated
    • 2.1 Women
    • 2.2 Children
  • 3 Havdalah in Davening
  • 4 The Order of Havdalah
  • 5 Havdalah recited by the cantor
  • 6 Wine or other drinks
    • 6.1 If there is no wine or grape juice
  • 7 Besamim
  • 8 Fire
  • 9 Saying Havdalah Early
  • 10 Until When Can One Say Havdalah?
  • 11 Standing or Sitting for Havdalah
  • 12 Doing Work before making Havdalah
  • 13 Links
  • 14 Sources


  1. There’s a dispute whether Havdalah is Deoritta or Derabbanan. [1]

Havdalah for Yom Tov

  1. 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. [2]
  2. Havdalah at the end of Yom Tov only consists of the Bracha of HaMavdil and there is no bracha of Besamim or Ner. [3]

When Motzei Shabbat is a Yom Tov

  1. If motzei shabbat is yom tov, one may use the Yom Tov candles for havdalah. [4]
  2. It is preferable not to hold the two candles together. [5]

Who is Obligated


There’s a dispute whether women are obligated in Havdalah.

  1. Nonetheless, according to Sephardim women may make the it for themselves. [6]
  2. 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. [7] Some say that a woman can even say the beracha on the fire. [8] Others disagree. [9]


  1. Once a child has reached the age of Chinuch (5 or 6) the parents should train him in hearing havdalah [10]

Havdalah in Davening

  1. See the Atta Chonantanu page.
  2. If Motzei Shabbat is a Yom Tov, in middle of Atta Bechartanu, one should insert VeTodiyanu in place of Atta Chonantanu. [11]

The Order of Havdalah

  1. The order of the Brachot of Havdalah is Yayin (Hagefen), Besamim, Ner (Meorei HaEsh), Havdalah (Hamavdil). [12]
  2. 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. [13]
  3. 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. [14]

Havdalah recited by the cantor

  1. 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. [15]
  2. 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. [16]
  3. 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 . This opinion should be followed in practice, and 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. [17]
  4. 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. [18]

Wine or other drinks

  1. If one has wine, wine has precedence over any other drink. [19] Red wine should be used, but white wine is permissible if only white wine is available. [20]
  2. One may use grape juice for Havdalah. [21]

If there is no wine or grape juice

  1. For Havdalah if there is no wine or grape juice available one can use chamar medina. [22] What is chamar medina?
  2. 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. [23] Chamar medina is still relevant today. [24]
  3. According to Ashkenazim, juice, coffee, or tea could be chamar medina, while milk or oil are not. [25]
  4. One may not use soda because soda isn’t considered Chamar Medina. [26]


  1. 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. [27]
  2. According to Sephardim, one should make the appropriate Bracha for that besamim. [28] There is a Sephardic practice to use hadasim when possible. [29]
  3. Someone who can’t smell should not recite Besamim unless he is fulfilling the obligation of someone who can smell. [30]
  4. 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. [31]
  5. 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. [32]
  6. If one isn’t sure if the spice has a smell may smell it in advance without a bracha. [33] 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. [34]