What if I ate before Havdalah and then forgot to make Havdalah? - Matan - The Sadie Rennert

What if I ate before Havdalah and then forgot to make Havdalah? Rabbanit Surale Rosen

Cheshvan 5580/November 2019

Topic : Shabbat & Yom Tov ,


On Motzei Shabbat I put my one year old daughter to bed which took a long time. I then davened Maariv but forgot to make Havdalah. I ate something and then didn’t know whether to make Havdalah with the Bracha or not. It seemed to me to be a bracha l’vatala once I had eaten. Did I do the right thing? If not, should I make Havdalah again on Sunday?


The Gemara Shevuot 18b quotes Leviticus 10:10: “for you must distinguish between the sacred and the profane”. It’s not clear whether the pasuk is brought as the origin of a דאורייתא  דין (Biblical Law) for making Havdalah or it’s merely an אסמכתא Chazal bring for a דרבנן מצוה (Rabbinic Commandment). 

The Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvot 185 learns that just as there is a Mitzvat Asseh (positive commandment) to sanctify Shabbat at its onset, so too there is at its conclusion. It is therefore a דאורייתא מצוה to make Havdalah on Motzei Shabbat. Maimonides, however, learns this from a different pasuk. In Hilchot Shabbat 29:1, Rambam writes “It is a positive duty to express the sanctity of the Sabbath day in words, for it is written: “Remember to sanctify the Sabbath day” (Exodus 20:8); that is to say, remember it in terms of praise and sanctification. One should remember it at its beginning and its conclusion by reciting the Kiddush when the Sabbath begins and the Havdalah when it ends.”

 The Rambam in Hilkhot Avodah Zarah and Customs of the Nations states that: “Both men and women are obliged to observe all of the prohibitive commandments in the Torah…and, pertaining to mandatory commandments, every such commandment the performance of which takes place only at stated times, and not continuously women are exempted, save the sanctification of the Sabbath day with words of prayer”. We can therefore deduce from the Rambam that women have a חיוב דאורייתא to make Havdalah.

Other Rishonim however, understand the חיוב to be a דרבנן חיוב only, for men and women alike.  The Orchot Chayim, quoted in the Beit Yosef (296:8) therefore maintains that women should not make Havdalah for themselves since it’s not a דין learned from the pasuk, rather, the pasuk is only used as an אסמכתא, a reference for the Rabbinic law of Havdalah. It is not equivalent to the obligation to make Kiddush. Kiddush, even though a מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא is obligatory since it is part of all the positive and negative commandments related to Shabbat but Havdalah is disputed over whether it’s מדרבנן or מדאורייתא. If it’s a mitzvah מדרבנן then women may be exempt from keeping it since it’s a commandment bound by time.

 The Remah (Orach Chayim 296:8) rules that due to the uncertainty as to the origin of the דין : “…they (women) should not recite Havdalah to themselves, rather they should hear Havdalah from men” (for whom Havdalah is obligatory, whether מדאורייתא  or מדרבנן).

The Magen Avraham (296:11), the Taz (296:7) and the Mishnah Brura (296:36) rule that a woman can say Havdalah for herself since even if it’s a דרבנן דין, it has the same validity as Kiddush (דקידוש דומיא) which is דאורייתא and which she is obliged to recite.


Eating before Havdalah

Gemara Pesachim 105a discusses the prohibition of eating before reciting Havdalah. If one sits down to eat during Shabbat before nightfall, there is no obligation to stop eating once Shabbat ends but it is forbidden to start a meal on Motzei Shabbat before Havdalah. In Shulchan Aruch Harav, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi clarifies that Chazal ruled more stringently with regard to Kiddush and Havdalah because, primarily, the mitzvah is to be fulfilled at the very beginning of its time frame, i.e. close to the commencement of Shabbat and close to its departure (271:9).

 What happens if one forgets and eats?  Ravah rules that even though it is forbidden to eat before, one should make Havdalah none –the-less (Pesachim 107a, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 299:1,5).


Forgot to make Havdalah

Ravah in Gemara Pesachim 107a rules that if one didn’t make Havdalah, one can still recite Havdalah until Wednesday (Rashbam explains that the first three days of the week belong to the previous Shabbat). The Amorah Ameimar quotes Ravah differently, saying that you can only make Havdalah through Sunday.

Rambam in Hilkhot Shabbat (29:4) rules like the first version of Ravah’s opinion (so too the Tosfot and the Rosh) while the Ba’al Halakhot Gedolot (Hilkhot Kiddush 13:73) and Siddur Rav Saadia Gaon bring Ravah’s second quote להלכה. The Magid Mishneh (on the Rambam, Hilkhot Shabbat 29:4) explains that the Geonim disputed over the two Halakhic traditions quoted by Ravah and that the Poskim from later generations ruled that you can make Havdalah on Sunday only, since Sunday began on Motzei Shabbat, the previous night.

Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 299:6) brings both opinions: “One who forgets to make Havdalah on Motzei Shabbat, can make Havdalah through Tuesday. Some opinions hold that he can only do so on Sunday. He should only say the blessing over the wine and the blessing of Hamavdil, but not those over the fire and spices that are only recited on Motzei Shabbat. And there are those who hold the opinion that if one eats before, he can make Havdalah on Motzei Shabbat only but not on any other day. Therefore if one both ate and forgot to make Havdalah, he cannot recite it on any other day.

Remah: And the ruling is according to the first opinion.”

 The Mishnah Berurah understands that the Remah ruled by the first opinion concerning both matters, i.e. that you can make Havdalah through Tuesday and that you can even do so in the case of eating before Havdalah (299:19).



A number of Poskim rule that a woman is חייבת Havdalah and can also recite for herself. We see from the Mishnah Berurah’s clarification of the Remah that even if you eat on Motzei Shabbat before Havdalah and then you forget to recite it, you should do so in the three following days. Davening Maariv (or saying ברוך המבדיל בין קודש לחול) only enables you to do מלאכה  after Shabbat but does not fulfill the requirement to make Havdalah separately.    

Rabbanit Surale Rosen is a graduate of Hilkhata, Matan's Advanced Halakhic Institute and is a certified Meshivat Halakha. She is the Director of Shayla. In addition she is a certified To'enet Rabbanit and a graduate of Matan’s Advanced Talmud Institute. Surale has taught Midrash, Talmud and Halakha and Daf Yomi in a wide array of shuls and communities, including the Matan Beit Midrash. Surale is a graduate of Bar Ilan University and holds degrees in English Literature and Talmud. This past year she wrote the weekly Parashat HaShavua column for Chumash Shemot in the leading religious Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon and periodically writes Divrei Torah for weekly Torah publications.

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