Havdalah for Women

Women and Havdalah

There is a machlokes rishonim (a debate among the early halachic authorities) whether women are obligated in the mitzvah of Havdalah (the prayer that marks the end of Shabbos and Yom Tov). Therefore, if a man has already fulfilled his obligation, he should not make Havdalah for a woman—since according to some poskim she is not obligated in the mitzvah—and in that case, he would be making a brachah levatalah (an unnecessary blessing), which is a serious transgression. However, when a man makes Havdalah for himself, for another man, or for a boy under Bar Mitzvah, women can be included as well. 

The common custom is that women usually don’t make Havdalah; they fulfill their obligation by listening to a man making Havdalah. Likewise, the custom is that women don’t drink the wine of Havdalah. However, if there is no man available to make Havdalah, a woman should make Havdalah for herself and drink the wine—since according to many opinions she is obligated in the mitzvah of Havdalah, and drinking the wine is an integral part of the mitzvah. A woman may include other women in her Havdalah, but not men or even boys under Bar Mitzvah, based on the principle that someone with a chiyuv (obligation) arising out of doubt may not discharge the obligation of someone with a definite chiyuv.  #299?


Practical Halacha: One minute a day. By Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, shlita, Mara D'asra and member of the Badatz of Crown Heights.