A Literary Approach to Havdalah: Structure and Intertexts

Elie Kaunfer


Havdalah is a well-known ritual that marks the separation between the end of Shabbat (or a festival) and the rest of the week. The text of the blessings is found in the Talmud.1 The purpose of this essay is to explore the underlying structure of the Havdalah blessings, as well as the biblical allusions in one of the phrases, as an illustration of a mode of liturgical interpretation.


Talmudic Sources

The Babylonian Talmud (Bavli) preserves a series of anecdotes2 in which Rabbi Yaakov bar Abba comes to the house of his teacher Rava and questions actions taken by the latter. In one of these dialogues, Rava3 recites a specific formula to mark the end of the Sabbath, thus providing us with the earliest textual witness to a particular Havdalah liturgy: “He began a prayer by saying:4 ‘who separates between holy and profane, between light and dark, between Israel and the nations,5 between the seventh day and the six days of doing.’”6

A nearly identical liturgy is reported in the name of Rabbi Zera (who lived a generation before Rava): “Rabbi Zera said, ‘[At the end of] a holiday that falls on a weekday, one [nevertheless] says: ‘who separates between holy and profane, and between light and dark, and between Israel and the nations, and between the seventh day and the six days of doing.’”7 Rabbi Zera notes that, even when a festival concludes in the middle of the week, the usual post-Shabbat formula of Havdalah is to be recited, which includes the phrase “between the seventh day and the six days of doing.” This suggests that the Havdalah formula employed by Rava seems to have been standard already in the days of Rabbi Zera.8

But Rabbi Yaakov bar Abba does not agree that this should be the standard formula. He challenges his teacher Rava by noting that Rabbi Judah the Patriarch, called in this text simply “Rabbi” (as reported by Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav or Shmuel9), recited simply: ha-mavdil bein kodesh l’ol, “who separates between holy and profane.”10 And so we have a debate: should Havdalah list four separations (following the opinion of Rava and Rabbi Zera) or just one separation (following the opinion of Rabbi Judah the Patriarch)?11

But the Talmud preserves yet a third way to recite Havdalah, which is even longer than the approach of Rava and Rabbi Zera. For our purposes of analyzing structure and its contribution to meaning, we will focus on the longer form of Havdalah given in the following talmudic passage:

An objection [from a baraita, the earliest stratum of Jewish law]:
The order of Havdalah—how [does one recite it]?
One should say: [Blessed are You, God,] who separates
1. between holy and profane,
2. between light and dark,
3. between Israel and the nations,
4. and between the seventh day and the six days of doing;
5. between the impure and the pure,
6. between the sea and dry land,
7. between the upper waters and the lower waters,
8. between priests, Levites, and Israelites.12

This baraita lists eight contrasting separations. The first four havdalot are the same that we have elsewhere seen quoted by Rava (and Rabbi Zera), and then an additional four havdalot follow. We will analyze the structure of this text below as we explore the biblical texts that stand behind this version of Havdalah. But this text is subject to clarification in the Babylonian Talmud itself, which is trying to satisfy two criteria stated as critical earlier in the discussion: (1) all the phrases mentioned should quote the Bible, and (2) the number of separations should be either three or seven, but not anything in between. We will turn our attention to that clarification now.

Earlier in this passage, the Babylonian Talmud states a requirement from the sage Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi that each of the separations mentioned in the Havdalah liturgy must quote the Bible. Indeed, prayers are best understood when recognized as part of a larger intertextual field, employing what I have called elsewhere “the literary-intertext method.”13 In Reuven Kimelman’s words: “The meaning of the liturgy exists not so much in the liturgical text per se as in the interaction between the liturgical text and the biblical intertext. Meaning, in the mind of the reader, takes place between texts rather than within them.”14 In other words, a prayer text cannot fully be understood until one first recognizes which biblical text is being quoted in the prayer, and then examines the prayer in light of the biblical text referred to.

The Talmud objects to this list of havdalot in the baraita because the phrase bein ha-yam le-aravah (“between the sea and dry land”) has no Torah intertext that includes the root bet-dalet-lamed (also the root of “Havdalah,” and signifying “separation”), and therefore violates Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s rule.15 The Bavli thus removes the phrase bein ha-yam le-aravah, so as to make the baraita fit with Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s rule16—which would leave seven havdalot in the list. But the Bavli then notes that the phrase bein yom ha-sh’vi∙i l’sheishet y’mei ha-ma∙aseh (“between the seventh day and the six days of doing”) is not considered part of the numbering, in keeping with the conclusion above from Rava.17 Thus we are left with only six separations.

The Bavli solves this problem of requiring seven separations by dividing the final phrase—“between priests, Levites, and Israelites”—into two subdivisions: “between priests and Levites” and “between Levites and Israelites,” both of which have biblical intertexts, identified by the Bavli itself as Deuteronomy 10:8 and 1 Chronicles 23:13. The final text settled on is this:

who separates
1. between holy and profane,
2. between light and dark,
3. between Israel and the nations, and between the seventh day and the six days of doing,
4. between the impure and pure,
5. between the upper waters and lower waters,
6. between priests and Levites, and
7. between Levites and Israelites.


Literary Structure Analysis of Havdalah

Above we discussed the various texts of Havdalah, which contain anywhere from one to eight separations. A better understanding of the structure will help us discover the meaning embedded within these texts.

The Havdalah text with only one separation, as recited by Rabbi Judah the Patriarch, leaves us very little to analyze on a structural basis since there is only one separation clause: bein kodesh l’ol (“between holy and profane”). Once we move to Rava’s four-part Havdalah (counting, for now, bein yom ha-sh’vi·i l’sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh [“between the seventh day and the six days of doing”] as one of the separations), we have to ask: What is the structure of this short liturgical piece? Is bein kodesh l’ol the primary category, functioning as a headline—with everything that follows just an expansion of this main idea? In this conception, the other separations (light/darkness; Israel/nations; seventh day/six days) act as examples of the primary category. Or perhaps the structure is such that each separation is its own primary category, on par with holy/profane? In addition, the very terms “holy” and “profane” are ambiguous. Do they refer to something general (which has multiple sub-categories), or to something more specific? An answer to this linguistic question would help us unlock the structure of this liturgy.

Only when we look at the longer Havdalah do we start to understand the structure of Rava’s Havdalah. The longer Havdalah is complex because, even in the talmudic passage itself, three versions of it are proposed. However, based on the understanding of David Weiss Halivni, one of the most important of today’s critical Talmud scholars,18 and the likelihood that a seven-part (rather than an eight-part) Havdalah makes literary sense for a blessing marking the week (which is itself based on the number seven), we will analyze the following version of that baraita from B. Pesaḥim 104a, as we discussed above: “…who separates (1) between holy and profane, (2) between light and dark, (3) between Israel and the nations, (4) and between the seventh day and the six days of doing, (5) between the impure and the pure, (6) between the upper waters and the lower waters, and (7) between priests, Levites, and Israelites.

The baraita itself informs us that there is an order (seder) to the Havdalah, when it asks: “What is the order of the separations (seder havdalot hei·akh)?” In order to discover this order, it is necessary to contextualize the terms in their original biblical literary contexts, using the literary-intertext method described above.

First, the phrase bein ha-kodesh u-vein ha-ol appears only one time in the Torah: in Leviticus 10:10, which reads as follows: “…to separate between the holy and the profane [and between the impure and the pure].”19 This biblical text makes clear that kodesh and ol (“holy” and “profane”) are parallel to the terms tamei and tahor (“impure” and “pure”). This helps explain another aspect of the seven-separation Havdalah, namely: Why does the negative term (tamei/impure) precede the positive term (tahor/pure) in the Havdalah of the baraita, even though all the other terms seemingly lead with the positive item? The answer seems to be: Because the Havdalah text is quoting this verse in Leviticus, which also has this negative-first order. The parallel structure of the two phrases (kodesh/ol, tamei/tahor) makes the literary structure of the prayer clear: the first three separations are parallel to the last three separations. The phrase bein or la-oshekh is related to bein mayim ha-elyonim la-mayim ha-tatonim also through a biblical intertext, the story of creation: “God separated between the light and between the darkness…it was a separator between the (upper) water and the (lower) water”—in which these separations are only two verses apart (Genesis 1:4 and 6). Finally, bein yisrael la-ammim is associated with bein kohanim li-l’viyim u-l’yisra·eilim, representing concentric circles of separation, with Israel differentiated from the nations, and priests and Levites separated from Israelites.20

Of the seven terms, six of them match easily based on themes and biblical proximity, as illustrated in the chart below:

1. Between holy and profane →
2. Between light and darkness →
3. Between Israel and the (gentile) nations →
4. Between impure and pure
5. Between the upper and lower waters
6. Between priests, Levites, and Israelites

Related by theme, these separations match up well:

Categories of Distinction Among Humans

→between Israel and the (gentile) nations
→between priests, Levites, and Israelites

Categories of Distinction Among Natural Phenomena/Creation

→between light and darkness
→between the upper and lower waters

Categories of Distinction in Ritual21

→between holy and profane
→between impure and pure

The second set of three separations following the “standard” Havdalah of Rava and Rabbi Zera thus serve as an expansion of, and commentary on, the categories set up in the first three separations. This also helps us understand the context of those first three separation, which will be useful when we analyze the biblical intertexts in the next section of this essay.

In this reading, the phrase bein yom ha-sh’vi·i l’sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh would seem to serve as a culminating phrase. If the phrases are read linearly, the order of the separations makes little sense. However, if the passage is read as composed of parallel structures, as suggested here, the text bein yom ha-sh’vi’i l’sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh then appears as the summation phrase—the one without a parallel, and which is emphasized through the structure. This reading of the Havdalah liturgy echoes a reading of the creation story itself, where themes in Day One are echoed on Day Four, themes from Day Two are echoed in Day Five, and those from Day Three are echoed in Day Six.22   This leaves Day Seven, the Sabbath, to stand on its own—much like the liturgical phrase bein yom ha-sh’vi·i l’sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh, which thus echoes a reference to the seventh day and resonates with its unique quality.23


Identification and Analysis of the Intertext(s)

Havdalah clearly draws on a series of biblical allusions, as prescribed by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s rule: “The one who separates [i.e., recites Havdalah] must say an aspect of the separations (havdalot) referenced explicitly in the Torah.” What additional meaning emerges, as a result of these prayer texts referring directly to the Bible?

For the purposes of this essay, we will look only at one illustrative example: “between the seventh day and the six days of doing.” The fourth “separation” in the series is between the seventh day and the six other days of the week. While this fits the pattern of the previous separations in form, it is distinct in that it does not quote a phrase from the Bible that contains the root bet-dalet-lamed, thus apparently violating Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s rule. Indeed, the medieval siddur commentators do not point to the intertext of this line, presumably because it does not fit the rule.24 However, this phrase still has a number of possible biblical intertexts.

Identifying this intertext is a bit complex, because the words themselves do not appear verbatim in the biblical text. Some possible candidates are the following verses:

Six days shall you do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease…(Exodus 23:12).

Six days may work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a ceasing of complete ceasing, holy to the Eternal…(Exodus 31:15).

…for in six days the Eternal made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He ceased from work and was refreshed (Exodus 31:17).

Six days may work be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy ceasing of complete ceasing to the Eternal…(Exodus 35:2).

Six days may work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a ceasing of complete ceasing, a sacred occasion…(Leviticus 23:3).

Indeed, each of these verses contrasts the “doing” of work six days a week to the ceasing on the seventh day.25 However, in looking for the intertext for our phrase, none of them offers the exact phrase found in Havdalah: “the six days of doing” (sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh). In fact, that phrase only appears once in the Bible: “Thus has the Lord, the Eternal, proclaimed: The east gate of the inner court will be closed, during the six days of doing but open on the Sabbath day and open on the New Moon” (Ezekiel 46:1).26

The downside of this possible intertext is that it is missing the phrase yom ha-sh’vi·i (“seventh day”), using instead yom ha-shabbat (“the Sabbath day”). The choice is significant, for in almost all of the potential intertexts listed above, the distinction between the six days and the seventh is the ability to do work (m’lakhah). In the phrase from Ezekiel, however, the distinction does not mention work at all; instead it is focused on the Temple gate. (I will analyze this image further below.)

One possible additional support for the Ezekiel text as the intended intertext is the version of Havdalah from one of the Genizah fragments published by Ezra Fleischer:

You have separated
between darkness and light,
between upper and lower waters,
between sea and dry land,
between impure and pure,
between Shabbat and the six days of work,
between Israel and the nations—
as it says: “You shall be holy to Me, for I the Eternal am holy, and I have set you apart from other peoples to be Mine” (Leviticus 20:26).
And it says: “A man may arrange his thoughts, but what he says depends on the Eternal” (Proverbs 16:1).
Blessed…who graces with knowledge.27

Here the intertext clearly seems to be Ezekiel 46:1, as both terms—yom ha-shabbat and sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh—are used.

Consider the larger biblical context for this intertext:

Thus has Adonai, the Eternal, proclaimed: The east gate of the inner court will be closed during the six working days (sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh) but open on the Sabbath (ha-shabbat) and open on the New Moon. Having entered through the vestibule of the gatehouse the prince will stand by the doorpost, while the priests offer up both his whole burnt offering and his well-being offering. He will then bow low on the threshold of the gatehouse and leave; the gatehouse, however, will not be closed until evening. The general population will [also] bow low before the Eternal at the entrance of that gatehouse on the Sabbath and the New Moons.28 (Ezekiel 46:1–3)

This is part of a much larger angelic tour of the future restored Temple, in exact measurements and detail (Ezekiel 40–48).29 Two additional texts from this larger selection (Ezekiel 42:15, 20 and Ezekiel 44:1–3) will be important to our analysis of the specific intertext of Ezekiel 46:1, which I will again present in the Milgrom/Block translation:

Ezekiel 42:15, 20: When he had finished the measurements of the inner Temple [area], he led me out by way of the gate which faces east, and he measured the entire area…Thus he measured it on four sides; it had a wall completely surrounding it, 500 [cubits] long on each side, to separate the holy from the profane (l’havdil bein ha-kodesh l’ol).
Ezekiel 44:1–3: Then he led me back by way of the outer gate of the sanctuary that faces east; but it was closed. Then the Eternal said to me, This gate will remain closed; it must not be opened (ha-sha·ar ha-zeh sagur yihyeh lo yippatei·a)! And no one may go through it because the Eternal, Israel’s God, has gone through it. Therefore, it must remain closed. But the nasi, and only the nasi, may be seated there to dine before the Eternal. He will enter by way of the vestibule to the gate and exit the same way.

Note that in these passages, the connection between holy and profane takes place in the arena of space (as opposed to time). Specifically, it is the wall and the gate that function as the physical barrier between holy and profane.30 In addition, this physical separation is intimately connected to the arrival of the presence of God. This image may be jarring to modern sensibilities, but if the Temple represents the meeting point between the Divine and the human, this image makes that meeting space very tangible and real. The closing of the gate after the re-entry represents a permanence of God’s presence. God no longer intends to abandon the city and the people; in this vision, God is here to stay.31 This image also resonates with our intertext (Ezekiel 46:1): while the outer gate is closed forever, the inner gate is open on Shabbat and holidays.32 The opening of this gate provides a different image—one in which the presence of God is more palpable, inducing the people fall prostrate in front of the open gate (Ezekiel 46:3).

Relating this back to the Havdalah prayer, the phrase bein yom ha-sh’vi·i l’sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh offers a different image of the end of Shabbat. Instead of the temporal image, closely related to bein or l’oshekh, this phrase offers a spatial image. The worshipper can thus experience the ritual of Havdalah—and specifically its final line in the litany of separations—as an invitation to feel the closing of a gate that, when open, leads to the presence of God.33 This is a powerful example of the distinction between Shabbat and the rest of the week, which may be characterized not only by the work that may be done in the course of its days (an idea that finds powerful expression in the other possible intertexts from the Torah, presented above), but also by the fact that the great gate to God remains closed for all of those days. Against this backdrop of ideas, the holiness of Shabbat has an almost practical feel to it: it is a holy day because it is then that the gate to holiness, which leads to the holy God of Israel, may open.34

In addition, the ethical imperatives embedded in these phrases take further shape with this set of intertexts from Ezekiel. The return of God’s presence, and the opening of the gate on Shabbat and holidays, only follows the correct instruction by the priests themselves (Ezekiel 44:23).35 By alluding to the text that follows the ethical rejuvenation of the priesthood, the Havdalah ritual offers the worshipper additional literary reminders of the need to maintain a moral and distinct life, especially at this liminal moment in the week.


Rabbinic Understanding of Biblical Intertext

One rabbinic understanding of these texts from Ezekiel adds another layer of interpretation to the phrase bein yom ha-sh’vi·i l’sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh:

Rabbi Yehudah says: On New Moons and Shabbatot, Israel sits there and sees the doors open by their own accord, and knows that the Shekhinah of God is there, as it says: “For the Eternal, the God of Israel, came into it” (Ezekiel 44:2). Immediately they fall and prostrate before God, both in the past and in the future, as it says: “And the nation (will) prostrate at the opening of that gate on Shabbatot and holidays.”36

In Rabbi Yehudah’s understanding of the text from Ezekiel, we encounter another emotion: one of longing. On Shabbat and New Moons, according to this midrash, the people Israel are sitting outside the sanctuary, but looking at the open door and feeling the presence of God. They react in worship by falling prostrate to the ground. They attempt to strengthen a relationship in the face of an opportunity, an open door.

Rabbi Yehudah also connects the text from Ezekiel 46:3 to the future vision of a redeemed world. Playing with the word v’hishtaavu by taking it slightly out of context as an imperfect verb, Rabbi Yehudah takes the verse to be presenting part of the prophet’s vision for the future. For Rabbi Yehudah, the vision of Ezekiel presents a picture of the past as well as a vision for the future. This is also significant for the ritual moment of Havdalah, when Shabbat—a “taste” of the world to come37 —is ending. By completing the ritual with an allusion to the perfect time, a time that is entirely Shabbat, the Havdalah liturgy leads the worshipper to look toward a full redemption.38



The liturgy of Havdalah proves very rich when considered in light of its intertexts.39 In addition, we saw how the structure of Havdalah itself points to specific recurring themes in the ritual. The intertexts helped us to understand why certain linguistic choices were made, including the ordering of tamei before tahor. These structural clues led us to better identify the intertexts and their broader themes.










1 Talmudic sources themselves date Havdalah to an even earlier period (see B. Berakhot 33b = B. Megillah 25a), although it is not clear what the text of that Havdalah was.
2 B. Pesaḥim 103b–104b.
3 Following Rashi, ad locum.
4 Literally: “opened and said.” In the Babylonian Talmud, this phrase often introduces a specific liturgical formula. See, for instance, B. Berakhot 38a, B. Pesaḥim 56a and 116a, B. Mo∙eid Katan 9a, B. Ketubot 8b, and B. Gittin 34a.
5 In some manuscripts, the text reads la-goyim (rather than the more familiar formulation la-ammim). See Raphael Natan Neta Rabinowitz, Dikdukei Sofrim (1886/1887; rpt. Jerusalem: Iggud Meḥabrim, 5749 [1988/1989]), vol. 4, p. 157b, note dalet. This appears also in the text found in Seder ibbur B’rakhot, a later work that preserves liturgy from the Land of Israel. See Abraham I. Schechter, Studies in Jewish Liturgy (Philadelphia: Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning, 1930), p. 118. Note also that some manuscripts read bein (“between”) whereas other have u-vein (“and between”). See the note in Dikdukei Sofrim and see the text in B. Ḥullin 26b, discussed below.
6 B. Pesaḥim 103b.
7 B. Ḥullin 26b. Note that the version cited by Rav Hai is missing the word bein, in Simha Assaf, T’shuvot Ha-ge’onim Mi-tokh Ha-g’nizah (Jerusalem: Darom, 1929), p. 88, lines 6–7.
8 It is worth noting that Rabbi Zera moved between Palestine and Babylonia, but he most likely represents a Babylonian ritual tradition. See Avraham Goldberg,“Rabbi Zera U-minhag Bavel B’eretz Yisrael,” Tarbiz 36 (1967), pp. 319–341. Interestingly, Rabbi Zera (also known as Rabbi Zeira) apparently knew of a version of Havdalah that includes mention of the distinction between tamei and tahor (pure and impure), which appears later in the Bavli passage (which is discussed below). This is evidenced by the rejoinder of Rav Yehudah at Y. Berakhot 5:2, 9c: “Rabbi Zeira said in the name of Rav Yehudah [and] Rabbi Abba said in the name of Abba bar Yirmiyah: Even [at the end of] a holiday that ends in the middle of the week one says: ‘between the seventh day and the six days of doing.’ Rabbi Zeira said to Rav Yehudah: ‘Are the six days of doing before him?’ He replied: ‘Are impurity and purity before him?’” Rav Yehudah’s rejoinder to Rabbi Zeira only makes sense if the text of Havdalah includes some version of bein tamei la-tahor (“between impure and pure”) in the list of distinctions mentioned in the blessing. See the commentary of the P’nei Moshe, ad locum. Note too that Tanya Rabbati also links these two texts; see Tanya Rabbati, ed. Israel Baron (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 2011), p. 94.
9 See Dikdukei Sofrim, vol. 4, p. 158a, note hei.
10 There is a version of Rabbi Judah the Patriarch’s Havdalah that reads: “who separates between holy and profane, between light and darkness.” Rabinowitz sees this as a scribal error (Dikdukei Sofrim, vol. 4, p. 158a, note vav). However, see Rashbam, s.v. hakhi garsinan, end of B. Pesaḥim 103b. It should be noted that Rabbi Yaakov bar Abba’s objection to Rava seems, in the context of his other objections (why bless multiple times on the wine during the meal; why use a torch for Havdalah instead of a candle) to be one of questioning excess, and not claiming that the actions are invalid. His objection in each case—lamah lakh kullei hai (“Why do all this?”)—indicates that Rava would be able to use a less wordy formulation and still perform the ritual correctly.
11 For the practice to say one or two havdalot only, see T. Berakhot 5:30, B. Pesaḥim 104a–b, and Y. Berakhot 5:2, 9b. There is one text that mentions three havdalot, preserved in a Karaite siddur published by Louis Ginzberg in his Ginzei Schechter (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1929), vol. 2, p. 490: “We bless to the God of Israel, who separates between holy and profane, and between Israel and the nations, and between the seventh day…and the six days…of doing.” And cf. also p. 638, where Ginzberg notes that this siddur has only three havdalot. For more on the Karaite Havdalah liturgy, see Natan Fried, “Minhagim ‘Lo Y’du∙im’ Ba-t’fillah,Or Yisrael 13 (1999), pp. 109–117.
12 B. Pesaḥim 104a.
13 Elie Kaunfer, Interpreting Jewish Liturgy: The Literary-Intertext Method (doctoral dissertation; New York: Jewish Theological Seminary, 2014), p. 16; available online at www.mechonhadar.org/torah-resource/interpreting-jewish-liturgy. “Intertextuality” refers to the approach to reading in which “…a text cannot be studied in isolation. It belongs to a web of texts which are (partially) present whenever it is read or studied.” See also Steven Moyise, “Intertextuality and the Study of the Old Testament in the New Testament,” in The Old Testament in the New Testament: Essays in Honour of J. L. North, ed. Steven Moyise (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), pp. 14–41, here pp. 15–16.
14 Reuven Kimelman, “The Shema Liturgy: From Covenant Ceremony to Coronation,” in Kenishta: Studies of the Synagogue World 1 (2001), pp. 9–105; quote appears on p. 28.
15 B. Pesaḥim 104a. The parallel in Y. Berakhot 5:2, 9b reads: “Levi said: As long as they are from the havdalot (separations) mentioned in the Torah.” This rule has significant implications for the claim that prayer texts have intertexts from the Bible. Louis Ginzberg notes that oftentimes the same halakhot are mentioned by the father and the son; see his Peirushim V’iddushim Birushalmi (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1941–1961), vol. 4, p. 273. Although sea and dry land are often separated in the Bible, the verbs associated with this division are not taken from the root bet-dalet-lamed. The words associated with waters dividing are: yikkavu (Genesis 1:9), va-yasem (Exodus 14:21), va-yeatzu (2 Kings 2:8), and bakata (Nehemiah 9:11).
16 David Weiss Halivni (Mekorot U-Mesorot: Eruvin U-Pesahim [New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1982], p. 567) posits that the phrase bein ha-yam le-aravah was added because of Rava’s understanding that bein yom ha-sh’vi∙i l’sheishet y’mei ha-ma∙aseh did not count toward the number of havdalot, and if bein kohanim la-l’viyim v’yisra∙eilim was considered as one phrase, one more separation needed to be added.
17 See Rashbam ad locum and Tosafot s.v. bein yom ha-sh’vi∙i. See also Eleazar ben Judah of Worms, Peirushei Siddur Ha-T’fillah La-Rokei∙a, eds. Moshe and Yehudah Hershler (Jerusalem: Machon Hershler, 1992), vol. 2, pp. 588–589; and Issachar Jacobson, N’tiv Binah (Tel Aviv: Sinai, 5724–5738 [1963/1964–1977/1978], vol. 2, p. 390.
18 See note 16 above.
19 It also appears in Ezekiel 22:26 and 42:20. Indeed, Jacob Milgrom points out that the term ol itself only appears here in Torah. See Jacob Milgrom, The Anchor Yale Bible: Leviticus 1–16 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991), p. 615.
20 See Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16, p. 722 (and fig. 13): “The tripartite division of the human race corresponds to three of its covenants with God: mankind (Genesis 9:1–11, including the animals), Israel (i.e., the patriarchs, Genesis 17:2; Leviticus 26:42), and the priesthood (Numbers 25:12–15; Jeremiah 33:17–22).” See also Jacob Milgrom, Leviticus 17–22 (New York: Doubleday, 2000), p. 1718 (and fig. 3).
21 The connection between separating pure and impure animals and moral behavior is discussed at length in Milgrom, Leviticus 1–16, pp. 718–736.
22 See Nahum Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1991), p. 4.
23 In fact, even the number of words in the phrase supports this reading. The phrase ha-mavdil…bein yom ha-sh’vi·i l’sheishet y’mei ha-ma·aseh numbers seven words, echoing the number of words in the first verse of Genesis (which Sarna [ibid.] notes is significant there). It is perhaps significant that the atimah (the formula that ends the blessing) there (barukh atah Adonai ha-mavdil bein kodesh l’ol) also has seven words.
24 See Eleazar ben Judah of Worms, Perushei Siddur Ha-t’fillah La-rokei∙a, vol. 2, p. 592; Sefer Abudarham Ha-shaleim, ed. Shlomo A. Wertheimer (Jerusalem: Usha, 1963), p. 183; Siddur Rabbeinu Sh’lomo Mi-germaiza, ed. Moshe Hershler (Jerusalem: Ḥemed, 1972), p. 186. The latter calls this phrase ikkar havdalah, “the essence of Havdalah.”
25 Interestingly, the word sheishet does not appear in Genesis 1 or 2, which one might have expected, given the associations of the creation week with Havdalah. See, for instance, Pirkei D’rabbi Eliezer §20.
26 My thanks to Talia Milgrom-Elcott and Jeremy Milgrom for arranging to deliver to me this translation and commentary on Ezekiel by Jacob Milgrom in advance of its publication as Ezekiel’s Hope: A Commentary on Ezekiel 38–48 (Portland, OR: Cascade Books, 2012). The translation was based on that of Daniel Block.
27 Ezra Fleischer, T’fillah U-minhagei T’filah Eretz-Yisra·eiliyim Bi-t’kufat Ha-ge’onim (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1988), p. 28. The technical designation of the manuscript is MS Adler 2824 in the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In the manuscript, this passage appears on page 16.
28 Milgrom/Block translation, edited slightly to conform to the standards in use in this series. See above, n. 26.
29 See generally Walter Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel: Chapters 25–48, trans. James D. Martin (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), pp. 327–328 and Jon D. Levenson, Theology of the Program of Restoration of Ezekiel 40–48 (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1976).
30 See Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, p. 404, and Rimon Kasher, Mikra Yisrael Yeezkel (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2004), p. 823.
31 “[God] closes behind him the doors which he no longer intends to open for a new departure of the nature of that in 11:23. Thus, in addition, the closed gate could proclaim also [God’s] fidelity.” Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, p. 440.
32 Most commentators, modern and traditional, note the distinction between these two gates as outer and inner. However, cf. Rashi ad locum.
33 “The cosmic significance of the Temple, then, is owing to the presence of God within rather than to the Temple as a human artifact to serve as a place of worship” (Levenson, p. 10).
34 In certain ways, this imagery recalls the Neilah imagery at the end of Yom Kippur. See Rabbi Yoḥanan’s opinion that the gates being locked were the Temple gates (as opposed to Rav, who claimed the gates were the heavenly gates = skies); see Y. Berakhot 4:1, 7c.
35 Cf. Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, p. 460: “The lack of order in the behavior of the priests before the great time of judgment will find no further place in the new temple of the future.”
36 Pirkei D’rabbi Eliezer, chap. 50 (in some editions chap. 51), citing Ezekiel 46:3. The term Shekhinah is the regular rabbinic name for the perceptible presence of God in the world.
37 See M. Tamid 7:4; B. Rosh Hashanah 31a; B. Sanhedrin 97a; B. Tamid 33b; Mekhilta D’rabbi Yishmael, Ki Tissa, eds. Hayim Horowitz and Israel Rabin (1931; rpt. Jerusalem: Shalem Books, 1997), p. 341.
38 The theme of redemption and Havdalah is further supported by the references to Elijah at the end of the expanded ceremony. See Lawrence A. Hoffman, Beyond the Text: A Holistic Approach to Liturgy (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1987), p. 44.
39 See the essay elsewhere in this volume by Ora Horn Prouser for another interpretation of Havdalah using the intertext method.