This answer (originally elsewhere, later merged here) to a question about melacha before havdalah notes that in that situation one should say "baruch hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol" first. Does that apply to lighting the havdalah candle? I have never learned that women who don't daven (pray) ma'ariv, but who make havdalah themselves, should do anything special first before lighting the candle, but isn't lighting the candle melacha? Should a woman who makes her own havdalah always say "baruch..." first and then proceed with havdalah? Or does melacha that is required for havdalah have some special status that makes this not a concern?


2 Answers 2


Yes. Women should formally end shabbat before lighting a havdala candle after shabbat has ended, i.e. after nightfall on Saturday.

First of all, women certainly can daven maariv and say attah chonantanu.

Second, the Rama in OC 299:10 quotes an opinion that the only reason labor is forbidden before havdala is lest one forget to say havdala. Accordingly, one could do non-labor intensive work immediately after shabbat, including lighting a candle. The Rama suggests that this opinion is why many are lenient regarding the prohibition on labor before havdalah. However, he and many later poskim hold that the halacha should not be in accordance with this view, and it would thus be proper to recite maariv or 'baruch hamavdil' before lighting the havdala candle.

Additionally, the Be'er Heitiv (on the page there) advocates teaching the women (who at the time were largely uneducated) to refrain from lighting candles until formally ending shabbat.

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    +1. It should also be noted (since the question title doesn't specify that it's limited to women) that Magen Avraham there states that no such leniencies apply to men; they do have to say atah chonantanu, or baruch hamavdil, before performing any kind of melachah. [Indeed, he goes on to say that properly speaking, they should wait until the congregation has said kedushah d'sidra (i.e., the verses kadosh... and baruch... in Uva Letzion).]
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 5, 2012 at 17:58
  • @Alex, I've added the "women" tag to the question. (I wasn't sure if there were cases where this would come up for a man -- maybe he missed the time for ma'ariv? -- so I didn't restrict initially.) Commented Feb 6, 2012 at 13:50
  • @MonicaCellio It can come up if he is saying havdala before davening maariv (which is still a decently rare occurrence but has happened to me a few times)
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 6, 2012 at 14:11
  • @MonicaCellio BTW the latest time for maariv (dawn) is also the latest time to say the bracha on the candle!
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 23:49
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    @MonicaCellio There is a rabbinic enactment requiring one to daven maariv before midnight, lest one fall asleep. But post facto you can daven maariv till dawn (alos hashachar). The main part of havdalah (wine and hamavdil) can be said until Tuesday evening but the candle and spices are only on Saturday night. This is indeed our practice when tisha bav falls on sunday: we say HaEsh Saturday night (no spices because of the mourning), and wine and hamavdil on Sunday night after the fast.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 2:34

Say "Baruch HaMavdil bein Kodesh LeChol" -- blessed is He who separates between sacred and ordinary. As long as it's late enough after sunset, one can then do shabbos-prohibited activity, even before Havdalah.

It's commonly stated (though not necessarily historically validated) that Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev composed a Yiddish post-shabbos prayer, "Got fun Avraham", in part to serve this purpose, as it contains the phrase az dir lieber shabbos koidesh get aveck ... ("as the holy Sabbath departs ...")

The Chayei Adam feels it is fitting, even after saying Baruch HaMavdil, that "no man of Israel kindle flame before havdalah"; I think this is a look/feel thing, not a technical halachic obligation.

It's also recommended to do havdalah as soon as possible when you're ready to end shabbos. Firstly we don't delay mitzvahs; more importantly, you're not allowed to eat/drink anything (other than water) once the time for Havdalah has come, until you've made Havdalah. I've seen situations where people waited and waited around for havdalah and started snacking in the meantime (which they really shouldn't do).

  • Administrative note: This was posted as an answer to another question and merged hither.
    – msh210
    Commented Aug 23, 2012 at 21:51
  • How is the baruch hamavdil made before havdala not a bracha levatala? We do make that blessing a second time just moments later...
    – SAH
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 16:40
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    @SAH we don't use the name of G-d for baruch hamavdil.
    – Shalom
    Commented Aug 20, 2014 at 18:34
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    @Shalom We don't, but many Rishonim did. Fun fact.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 21, 2014 at 0:06
  • Shalom, R' Levi Yitzchok did not compose "G-tt von Avrohom," see here (Treasures of Ashkenaz, link originally broke in comment): tinyurl.com/jpc8a7k Commented Jan 3, 2016 at 4:45

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