While religious JewsIsraeli or otherwiseunderstand the term to mean the part of Saturday evening that begins only after Shabbat ends, non-religious Israelis use the term (or its Hebrew acronym, motzash) to mean Saturday evening in a general senseregardless of whether it's too early to make havdala
, the ritual that marks the conclusion of the sacred day of rest.
As a general rule, beverages that fall under the category of chamar medina--beverages that attain a certain degree of status in a given society--may be used for rituals such as the havdala
service, which is conducted on Saturday night to mark the conclusion of the Sabbath.
An additional ritual, which highlights this phenomenon, is the adaptation of the traditional Saturday night havdala
service separating Shabbat from the weekdays that follow for a service marking the end of Israel's Memorial Day (Remembrance Day) and the beginning of Independence Day.
The offering is accompanied by the recitation of the Veyitenlecha, the blessing said after the Havdala
service at the conclusion of Shabbat, when the Prophet Elijah is asked to appear (invisibly) in Bene Israel homes.
And is a female hospital patient allowed to hear the havdala
service, concluding Shabbat, over the telephone?
Saturday night is the Havdala
celebration, the passage from one week to the next, from one time to another.
I take this opportunity to protest the common practice in liberal synagogues where the entire congregation is invited to join in making a blessing, all saying (or singing) shehechyanu, haMotzi, or havdala
Her setting of the "Mi Shebarach" has been adopted as a communal prayer for healing by congregations across the country, just as her havdala
melody is now the standard in most Reform synagogues (even though many who sing it don't know its provenance).
Furthermore, when I saw the phrase, I'havdeel ben or leor, I expected and even heard, the last word as khoshekh-darkness; essentially inserting the familiar use of language from the Havdala
service-to distinguish between light and darkness.
The concept of separation, havdala
, is central to Jewish thought, it is both necessary for creation and for concrete responsibilities: the sacred is separated from the profane (perhaps for the sake of indirectly making the profane sacred), men from women, parents from children, etc.