Shabbat Parashat Chukat| 5764
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Question: My wife did not feel well on Motzaei Shabbat and went to sleep before I made Havdala. I decided to wait for her, which ended up being until the next morning. Should I have made a full Havdala on Sunday, including the berachot on besamim and ner (Havdala candle)?
Answer: There are a few questions to deal with here, starting with the question of whether you were correct to wait until the morning to make Havdala. We will assume a situation that you wife is fully capable of making her own Havdala without technical or emotional problems.
It is true that it is preferable for a woman to hear Havdala from a man, because of the opinions that she is not obligated in Havdala (see Shulchan Aruch and Rama, Orach Chayim 296:8). However, if she needs to, she may make her own Havdala (ibid.; we wrote more on the topic in last year’s Hemdat Yamim for B’ha’alotcha). So, if there are no problems, it is best to wait for her, but we must see whether there are problems.
All of the classical sources (from the gemara (Pesachim 106a) to the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 299:6)) talk about making Havdala on Motzaei Shabbat. The idea of making Havdala until Tuesday evening sounds as b’dieved (after the unfortunate fact). However, one can claim that the sources just describe the normal situation that one fulfills his mitzva within a reasonable amount of time and does not address a situation where there is reason to wait.
There is an interesting machloket between the Rosh (Berachot 3:2) and Maharam (cited by the Rosh) about one who was exempt from Havdala on Motzaei Shabbat because he was awaiting a close relative’s funeral. Is he obligated to make Havdala after the funeral on Sunday? The Taz (Yoreh Deah 396:2) explains that the Rosh, who exempts the mourner, understands that the base obligation of Havdala is only on Motzaei Shabbat, and that which one has until Tuesday is because of tashlumin (making up missed obligations). In this case, there was no obligation of Havdala on Motzaei Shabbat, and he is exempt. The Maharam understands that the base obligation extends beyond Motzaei Shabbat, and the mourner starts his obligation after the burial. According to the Rosh, it should be very problematic to delay Havdala until the morning, unless there is no choice in the matter (and, in this case, there is a choice). However, it appears that we accept the approach of the Maharam as halacha (based on Shulchan Aruch, YD 341:2; see Yabia Omer V, OC 10, who discusses the various indications).
A further complication is that one cannot eat or drink (except for water) before Havdala (Shulchan Aruch, OC 299:1). This is even the case upon awakening on Sunday morning, assuming one has the ability to make Havdala (Shemirat Shabbat K’hilchata 59:10). For Sefardim, the situation is even more problematic, because three pillars of recent Sefardic psak (Ben Ish Chai, Kaf Hachayim (299;26), R. Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer VI, 48.13)) rule that if one did eat before Havdala, he is able to make Havdala only if it is still Motzaei Shabbat.
If one makes Havdala after Motzaei Shabbat, he does not make the berachot on the ner and besamim (Shulchan Aruch ibid.:5), because only Motzaei Shabbat is the time that fire was created and one needs to compensate for the let-down of the end of Shabbat (Mishna Berura, ad loc.). At first glance, he who waits until the next day will lose these berachot. However, it is possible to make the berachot without the rest of Havdala (Rama, OC 298:1).
We conclude that it is halachically preferable for one not to wait until Sunday morning to make Havdala even if refrains from eating and even if it means that his wife will have to make it herself. Since both options are neither perfect nor halachically wrong, there may be circumstances where one will want to wait until the morning (except for the ner and besamim), while not eating.
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