Of Women and Wine: Kiddush vs. Havdalah

833. Of Women and Wine: Kiddush vs. Havdalah

It is considered mitzvah min hamuv’char (an optimal level of mitzvah performance) for all participants to taste the Kiddush wine. With regard to Havdalah, however, there is no mitzvah for others to partake of the wine. In fact, there are authorities who caution against women drinking the wine of Havdalah. The prevailing minhag (custom) is that only the person reciting the Havdalah drinks, and neither men nor women listeners sip the wine.

Several reasons have been offered for the minhag of women refraining from drinking Havdalah wine. One reason stems from the halachah that a man may not be yotzei from a woman’s Havdalah, and a man may not recite Havdalah for a woman if he has already fulfilled his obligation.* Some suggest that the custom that men participants don’t drink the wine developed from the restriction on women, while others state that any and all participants should abstain for completely independent reasons.

There is no issue for a woman who makes Havdalah for herself (and other women) to thereafter drink the wine.

* There is a halachic dispute whether women have a chiyuv (halachic obligation) in the mitzvah of Havdalah. In order for one person to make a brachah for another, there must be at least equal chiyuv. See Halachah #832 about participating in brachos and Halachah #299 for more about women and Havdalah.


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