Havdallah is a ceremony you do at the conclusion of Shabbos. You drink wine, smell cloves, and burn a special candle. Some people play guitars and sing songs. Havdallah doesn’t take very long. Most people love it. But why do it? Why do a ceremony at the end of Shabbos?
Endings are a big deal. Think about graduation. Why bother? School is over. No more pencils. No more books. Why put on a silly robe and listen to boring speeches? Or think about a great visit with friends. Why do you hug and cry and schlep out the goodbye? Get in the car and leave.
Not so fast. If an experience was important or inspiring – you can’t just let it end – you need to acknowledge what happened. You have to think about it and process it. And if it was really important, you want it to continue.
Graduations and long goodbyes are a time to reflect and reminisce. They are times to evaluate and take stock. They mark the end of one experience and the beginning of another. And when you understand what happened, you can take with you what you learned.
And that is the reason for Havdallah. Shabbos is an important experience. It is spiritual and transformative. It is a time to learn and discover. It is a time to grow. And you can’t just let it end. Havdallah is the time to acknowledge what happened, reflect, evaluate, and move on.
Havdallah is a long goodbye. You taste it, see it, smell it, hear it, and touch it. It isn’t a long ceremony, but it is long enough to make an impact. It is long enough to internalize Shabbos. This Shabbos is over but the memory isn’t.
They say, “You can’t take it with you.” And that is true. You can't take it with you. Except for Shabbos. You can take Shabbos with you, because of Havdallah.