By Rabbi Chaim Chazzan
Can a man who was already yoitze (made or heard) havdalah, make havdalah for his wife?
There is a dispute among poskim whether women are obligated to hear havdalah: Some say they are obligated min hatorah, others say they are only obligated miderabanan, while others say that they are not obligated at all.
The Alter Rebbe paskens that all opinions should be considered: Women must hear havdalah, yet a man who has already been yoitze may not make havdalah for them (since according to those who hold that she is not obligated, it will be a bracha levatala). Similarly, women must recite “boruch hamavdil” before doing melacha.
The woman may make havdalah for herself (but not for a man). Even if we assume that she is not obligated, she is allowed to fulfill this mitzvah, just like other mitzvos bound by time. Even though in general women have the custom not to drink from the havdalah wine; however, when they are making havdalah for themselves, it is alright.
Bsh’as hadchak when a woman doesn’t want to make havdalah for herself, a child who has reached the age of chinuch can make havdalah for her. In such a situation, lechatchila the woman should recite “boruch hamavdil” beforehand, but the child should not.
רמב”ם פכ”ט ה”א מהל’ שבת, מגיד משנה שם, שו”ע אדה”ז סי’ רצ”ו סעי’ י”ט, וראה מה שליקט בפסקי תשובות שם אות כ”א.
Reprinted with permission from Lmaan Yishmeu – a project of Mercaz Anash. To see more articles visit Mercazanash.com