• Gabriella Kahen

Dvar Torah: What’s the Significance of the Havdalah Ceremony?

Saying goodbye is never easy. Being separated from a loved one can be heartbreaking. Well, how can we turn it into something positive? Many of us might throw farewell parties, or give extravagant gifts, lightening up the mood; however, that final goodbye is always different than the others. We give our last hugs and kisses and wave endlessly as we watch those dear to us walk away, treasuring the embrace we just had with them seconds ago.

Now, one might ask, how does that final hug help? Didn’t we already exchange our hugs, kisses and gifts?! What can it possibly add? The answer is as follows: whereas till now all those hugs and kisses stabilized and cemented the relationship, that final goodbye we give right at the end takes it a few steps further. That last goodbye is completely different than the rest. It shows that although we are separating now, we shall soon be reunited. This love is one that we can feel, taste, hear… we use all our five senses for it.

This idea is very similar to that of the Havdalah ceremony. While we might think it’s all about separation, we happen to be wrong. It’s truly about unification. As Rabbi Moshe Cordovero says, it’s “a separation which contains an attachment and union”.

After Havdalah, we throw a farewell party, also known as a “Melava Malka”, and go for the final embrace. We develop a strong relationship with Shabbat, allowing us to maintain it during the week.

Every one of our senses must be included in the Shabbat spirit. We sip the wine, smell and touch the spices, gaze and wave at the flickering flames, and listen or say the special Havdalah blessings. We say our temporary goodbyes, only to soon reunite once again.


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