Do you have a favorite Jewish ritual? Is it lighting the Hanukkah candles? Decorating the sukkah? Baking hamantashen on Purim?
One of my favorites is Havdalah. It’s a time to press the “pause” button and savor Shabbat for just a few more minutes. The short but sweet ceremony engages all our senses – tasting the wine, smelling the spices, seeing the candle, hearing the blessings and feeling the embrace of friends and family gathered together.
Havdalah at Camp Ramah is extra special, as seen in this video of Solelim and Nivonim last summer:
There is a custom to include verses from this week’s parashah in the Ma’ariv (Evening) service before Havdalah. These words, spoken by Isaac to Jacob, share the hope that God’s blessings will accompany us in the new week. In Siddur Sim Shalom the verses appear on page 690:
וְיִתֶּן-לְךָ, הָאֱלֹהִים, מִטַּל הַשָּׁמַיִם, וּמִשְׁמַנֵּי הָאָרֶץ–וְרֹב דָּגָן, וְתִירֹשׁ.
May God grant you dew from the heavens and rich soil upon the earth, abundance of grain and wine. Genesis 27:28
Our rituals connect us with Jewish time and the Jewish people; they bring meaning and order to our lives. Havdalah helps us transition from the sacred to the ordinary and gives us a boost to help us start the week. The message is this: don’t let this moment pass unnoticed. Pay attention! The sweetness of Shabbat can remain with us. The blessings of our ancestors are our inheritance. The new week is a gift and it is just about to begin. Do your best to make the most of it.