Tuesday, September 16, 2014
TODAY, ELUL 23 and #19 in the countdown
Havdalah - Separation / Kedusha - Holiness
So much of Judaism is based on the notion of forming boundaries or distinctions, and in particular those that separate the holy (Kadosh, Kedusha) from profane. The havdalah prayer itself (also see this how to guide), which marks the dividing line between the holiness of the Sabbath and the secularity of the new week, helps us to see these distinctions in terms of time (six days of Creation and the Sabbath), nature (light and darkness) and identity (Israel and other nations). Such distinctions are also drawn in terms of marital relationships and personal ethics - especially in the "Holiness Code" in Leviticus.
The notion of separation and drawing boundaries can cause discomfort when determining who gets to be on the "good" side. It's not such a big deal when talking about days (Shabbat) but is so when talking about people. Here is an interesting and inclusive Havdalah ceremony that highlights that issue and deals nicely with it.
There are lots of reasons to love the multi-sensual havdalah ceremony. Here are some nice ones, including: But most of all I love havdalah because even without all of the extra teachings and interpretations we can lay on top of it, it works. It makes a difference. Spending five minutes in a darkened room holding that braided candle aloft, making these blessings, breathing in the sweet spices, and then plunging the candle into the wine -- it does something. You can feel the change in the energy of the room. Something has ended and something else has begun.