1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Habdala
HABDALA (lit. "separation"), a Hebrew term chiefly appropriated to ceremonies at the conclusion of Sabbath and festivals, marking the separation between times sacred and secular. On the Saturday night the ceremony consists of three items: (a) benediction over a cup of wine (common to many other Jewish functions); (b) benediction over a lighted taper, of which possibly the origin is utilitarian, as no light might be kindled on the Sabbath day, but the rite may be symbolical; and (c) benediction over a box of sweet-smelling spices. The origin of the latter has been traced to the bowl of burning spice which in Talmudic times was introduced after each meal. But here too symbolic ideas must be taken into account. Both the light and the spices would readily fit into the conception of the Sabbath "Over-soul" of the mystics.
- (I. A.)