Sunday, 31 May 2015

Women and Havdala

Question: I have heard conflicting things about women saying havdala. As a single woman, what should I do?
Answer: The Rema (OC 296:8) writes that as the Shulchan Aruch brings two opinions as to whether women are obligated to say havdala or not, they should not recite it themselves, but should listen to a man saying it instead. The Mishna Berura (296:34) explains that women are obviously obligated to keep all laws of Shabbos. The difference of opinion lies in whether havdala is treated as a part of Shabbos, or as a regular time-bound mitzva (such as tefillin which women are exempt from). The Taz (OC 296:7) points out, however, that women must say hamavdil bein kodesh lechol before doing any melacha.
The Biur Halacha writes that women may make havdala, though should omit the beracha of meoiray haeish on the candle. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 296:5), R’ Moshe Feinstein (CM 2:47) and R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 1:273; 6:172), however, write that women may say this beracha, too, in the same way as they would on shaking a lulav if they wish to do so. Likewise, R’ Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer 14:43) criticizes the calendars that advise women against making the beracha on candles.
One reason why women avoid making havdala is because the Shelah (quoted by the Magen Avraham OC 296:4) writes that women shouldn’t drink the havdala wine (for Kabbalistic reasons). The Aruch Hashulchan points out that not everyone keeps this custom, and it’s more important to properly fulfill havdala.
In conclusion, you should say havdala complete with all the berachos.

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