Commencement of the Sabbath
SABBATH CANDLES: On Saturday evening, at the beginning of the Sabbath it is customary for the mother of the household to light two candles. The two candles recall two Sabbath commands found in the Bible: “Remember the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8) and “Observe the Sabbath” (Deut. 5:12). Following a common custom, the mother “welcomes” the Sabbath into the home by revolving her hands around the candles. She then covers her eyes as a symbol of concentration and respect before reciting the traditional benediction.
Conclusion of the Sabbath
The Sabbath concludes with a ceremony entitled “Havdalah.” Havdalah is the Hebrew word for distinction or separation. The Havdalah ceremony recognizes a distinction between the holy and the mundane. The Sabbath is a holy day entirely distinct from the mundane, common activity of the workweek. The Havdalah ceremonies recognize the conclusion of the Sabbath and the beginning of the normal workweek.
During the ceremonies, blessings are recited over wine, a special plaited Havdalah candle and spices. The plaited candle, consisting of a number of wicks, provides bright, torch-like flame to satisfy the statement in Psalm 19:9: “The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.” The lighted candle is usually extinguished in the wine.
The spice box with its fragrant aroma is passed from family member to family member to smell and enjoy. The fragrance from the spices are considered a final Sabbath joy that offsets the sad departure of the Sabbath. The pleasant aroma remains in the house as a lingering reminder of the Sabbath.