Halachically Speaking: Refraining from Foods during the Yomim Noraim

hsBy Rabbi Moishe D. Lebovits. We are all familiar with the simonim that are eaten on Rosh Hashanah. However, there are some foods which are not eaten during Rosh Hashanah and until as late as Hoshanah Rabbah. What are these foods? Why do we refrain from them? Is cooking with these foods permitted? Is the custom really to refrain from eating them until Hashanah Rabbah? These questions as well as others will be addressed in this issue


The Rama[1] brings that some are careful[2] not to eat “nuts” during Rosh Hashanah (see below if this applies to days after Rosh Hashanah as well). This custom seems to be for Ashkenazim and for those who are careful with their Jewish observance.[3]


Two reasons are quoted for this custom. 1. Nuts are the same numerical value of “cheit” sin.[4] (The numerical value of nut in Hebrew which is “egoz” equals to 17 and cheit in Hebrew without the alef equals to 17). Some say just as if the roots of a nut are covered during planting it would not be good for the nut, covering up our sins would not be good either.[5] 2. Nuts increase ones saliva which will interfere with one concentration during davening.[6] The Maharil[7] adds that this should not be done before the tekias. The Chasam Sofer[8] says the reason for not eating nuts is the following: Just as a nut when it is rolled in dirt, the nuts do not get dirty (it is protected from the shell), so too klal yisroel (edited) make sure that their insides (nishama) does not get dirty. Since a nut reminds us of the galos it is not proper to eat it during this time.

The Matei Ephraim[9] explains the concern as follows: One has to be quiet during the davening and concentrate on what the shatz is saying, and for sure during the teikas one needs to remain silent. If one is busy emptying his mouth from salvia he will not be able to concentrate and will disturb others as well.

Some say the main reason is the second reason.[10]

Differences between the Reasons

Below we will list some differences between the two basic reasons mentioned above.

1. According to the Maharil above, it should only apply before the tekias only and not during the entire Rosh Hashanah.[11] However, if one says it is because of concentration to davening it should apply all of the aseres yemi teshuva.[12]

2. Some say according to the Maharil it applies to anything which increases salvia,[13] but according to the first reason above it only applies to nuts.[14]

3. If the reason is because of davening, then a child who does not daven would be permitted to eat these foods, and if the reason is because of a bad simon (cheit) then it would apply to them as well.[15]

Which Nuts

According to the second reason mentioned above, one should refrain from eating almonds.[16] Peanuts are not included in this and one is permitted to eat peanuts during this time.[17]

Other Foods

Some say one should refrain from eating borscht etc because of its vinegar.[18] Examples of the above are pickles, and some strong mustards. One who wishes to add vinegar into a vegetable salad may do so if the vinegar is not tasted.[19] Some say one should avoid pomegranates, and pineapples.[20]

Some say this means even refraining from using lemons.[21] If one does not taste the lemon in his tea then one may eat it.[22] One who adds sugar to grapefruit can eat it otherwise one should refrain from it because of its sour taste.[23]

Others say one should refrain from eating chrein during these times.[24] One should refrain from bitter tasting foods during this time period.[25] Spices which are placed on food are permitted to be eaten during this period.[26] Some say that chick peas may be eaten as it does not increase ones salvia.[27] Some had the custom not to eat sharp foods the entire aseres yemi teshuva.[28]

Some say that one should avoid eating grapes during this time,[29] while others say the custom is to refrain from eating black grapes.[30] The custom is that grapes especially white ones are eaten during this time.[31]

Some say one should not eat beans or other kitniyos during this time because it increases saliva.[32]

There are those who refrain from eating fish during this time since it is the same words as worry in Hebrew (daga).[33] Others say since fish are a remez to multiplying and being fruitful many eat fish during this time.[34] Indeed, the custom of most people is not to be concerned with this.[35]

Each to His Own

If one knows that by eating these foods he will not have additional salvia then eating them is permitted according to the second reason above.[36]

Cooking with Nuts etc.

One is allowed to cook with nuts if it is not recognizable in the dish since it will not add salvia, but one should be stringent and not cook with anything that has the gematria of cheit.[37] Some say since it is mixed with other things it is not called a nut anymore.[38] However, this does not apply to almonds and one is permitted to cook with them.[39]

One should avoid eating a cake which has nuts that are recognizable.[40]

From When

Based on the opinion of the Maharil that the main point is not to disturb others from hearing the tekias, after the tekias are over, the concern is removed.[41] Some say only the first night to refrain from these foods.[42] While others say it applies to both days and nights of Rosh Hashanah.[43] The opinion of some is that the above foods should not be eaten until after Yom Kippur,[44] and some are stringent until after Hoshanah Rabbah.[45] Some say there is no reason to refrain from eating the above until Hoshanah Rabbah, but since Hoshanah Rabbah is the end of the days of Judgment[46] so we refrain from them until then.[47]

L’maseh one who does not have the custom to refrain from the above until after Hoshanah Rabbah does not have to accept this as his custom.[48]

Round Challahs

Although some may not have the custom to refrain from the above until Hoshanah Rabbah, there is a custom which is found among all of klal yisroel that is done from Rosh Hashanah until after Hoshanah Rabbah. That custom is the making of round challahs. What is the reason for this?

Some say the reason for this is because just as a circle has no beginning or end, we too should have no end and a long life.[49] Others say on Rosh Hashanah when new daven that Hashem should be one and no other G-Ds this is represented by the round challahs.[50]

Some say the following explanation: The word “shana” has a double meaning as well. In addition to “repeat,” it also means “change”. As the year goes go round and round, repeating the same seasons and holidays as the year before, we are presented with a choice: Do we want this shana (year) to be a repetition, or do we want to make a change (shinui)? Hopefully, each year we make choices for change that are positive, and each year we will climb higher and higher, creating a spiritual spiral.

The shape of the Rosh Hashanah challah reminds us that this is the time of year to make those decisions. This is the time to engage in the creative spiritual process that lifts us out of the repetitive cycle, and directs our energies toward a higher end. [51]

Some make it in the shape of a crown as a remez to crown Hashem.[52] Others have the custom of making challahs in the shape of a ladder. The reason for this is since we daven in Mussaf on the Yomim Noraim “who will become poor who will become rich” this is represented by a ladder since Hashem says this one will go up and this one will go down.[53]

After note

One should remember that the above concern is because of a remez that nuts are equal to the numerical value of cheit (according to one reason). Cheit (sin) equals the numerical calve of cheit as well, and one should be careful about sinning during these days.[54]

Ask Harav Yisroel Belsky Shlita 1. Are peanuts permitted 2. Until when is the custom?

Kapei Aron 57, Machzor Vitrei 323, Zechor Avraham 583, Katzei Hamatei 583:11.

[1] 583:2, Darchei Moshe 1, Aruch Ha’shulchan 3. Refer to Mecholas Hamachanim 6:pages 61-61b, see Kol Bo Hilchos Shofar 64 who quotes the Maharam as being lenient. See Bais Hayotzer 43:page 33b.

[2] Refer to Kaf Ha’chaim 583:26. See Elya Rabbah 5.

[3] Hisoreros Teshuva 1:125:3:page 47b.

[4] Rama ibid, Matei Ephraim 583:3, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:9, Lekutei Maharich 3:page 169 (new), Sefer Matamim page 163:17 (new), Aruch Ha’shulchan 3. Refer to Minhag Yisroel Torah 583:page 88. See Ginzei Yosef 102:page 234 regarding nuts and the numerical value. See Minhagei Yisroel 4:pages 41-49.

[5] Da’as Torah 583:1.

[6] Maharil Hilchos Shofar 2, Darchei Moshe 583:1, Rama 583:2, Chai Adom 139:6, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:9, Matei Ephraim 583:3, Lekutei Maharich ibid, Aruch Ha’shulchan 3.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Notes on Shulchan Aruch 583. Refer to Machtzis Ha’shekel 583:4. See Divrei Yisroel notes on Shemiras Haguf 2: pages 67-68

[9] 583:3. Refer to Pri Megadim Eishel Avraham 4.

[10] Noheg Katzon Yosef pages 270-271:18, see Shulchan Aruch Harav 583:6 who only brings the second reason. Da’as Torah. Tur Berakas 583:page 27.

[11] Minhag Avoseinu B’yudeinu 1:pages 24-25.

[12] Minhag Avoseinu B’yudeinu 1:page 25:footnote 6.

[13] Ibid:page 25. This is the opinion of the Pri Megadim Eishel Avraham 583:4.

[14] Ibid:page 27.

[15] Ibid:page 26:footnote 13.

[16] Magen Avraham 4, Be’er Heitiv 5, Kaf Ha’chaim 27.

[17] Opinion of Harav Shmuel Felder Shlita quoted in Shiurei Halacha page 13. Refer to Piskei Teshuvos 583:footnote 37.

[18] Magen Avraham 583 (beginning), Moreh B’etzbah 9:254, Ben Ish Chai Netzavim 1:5, Matei Ephraim 583:3, Lekutei Maharich 3:page 619 (new), Mishnah Berurah 5, Aruch Ha’shulchan 3.

[19] Mikadesh Yisroel (Yomim Noraim) 113:page 106.

[20] Ben Ish Chai Netzavim 1:5.

[21] Tov Ayin 18:91:page 41b.

[22] Mikadesh Yisroel (Yomim Noraim) 111:page 105.

[23] Mikadesh Yisroel (Yomim Noraim) 112:page 105.

[24] Mikadesh Yisroel (Yomim Noraim) 110:pages 104-105.

[25] Matei Ephraim 583:3, Aruch Ha’shulchan 3.

[26] Aruch Ha’shulchan 3.

[27] Minhag Avosienu B’yudeinu 1:page 32.

[28] Leket Yosher page 124.

[29] Ben Ish Chai Netzavim 1:5.

[30] Refer to Kaf Ha’chaim 583:21.

[31] Minhag Yisroel Torah 583:pages 89-90. Refer to Orchos Rabbeinu 2:pages 175-176:17.

[32] Matei Ephraim 583:3.

[33] Matei Ephraim 583:3.

[34] Matei Ephraim 583:3, Elef Hamugen 21, Minhag Yisroel Torah 3:page 85. Refer to Darchei Moshe Ha’uruch 583:1.

[35] Matei Ephraim 583:3, Lekutei Maharich 3:page 619 (new).

[36] Kaf Ha’chaim 583:28, see 587:19.

[37] This is also the opinion of other poskim (Refer to Shiurei Halacha ibid).

[38] Yad Yitzchok 1:208 (end).

[39] Be’er Moshe 3:97.

[40] Sheilas Rav page 380:15.

[41] Yosef Ometz 977:page 217.

[42] Aruch Ha’shulchan 3. Refer to Eishel Avraham Butchatch 583:1, Matei Ephraim 600:9, Elef Hamugen 583:footnote 15, Bnei Yisoschor Tishrei 2:11:page 5, Aruch Ha’shulchan 583:3, Moreh Betzbah 9:266:footnote 15, Mikroei Kodesh Yomim Noraim 7.

[43] Matei Ephraim 583:3, Kaf Ha’chaim 583:28, Katzei Hamatei 583:19, 16, Mechalas Hamechanim 6:page 61 (bottom). Refer to Sharei Teshuva 583:1, Moreh B’etzbah 9:266, Teshuvos V’hanhugos 2:266, Matei Ephraim 583:2. Ben Ish Chai Netzavim 1:8, Moed Lechol Chai 12:15, Yufei L’Leiv 2:583:8, Kaf Ha’chaim 583:4, Siddur Yaavetz 2:page 322, Habayis Hayehudi 3:11, Refer to Ohr Yisroel 13:pages 123-132 in depth, see Leket Yosher page 124.

[44] Leket Yosher page 124. Some say both reasons apply here. Salivia is increased by these nuts and it may interfere with davening and it is the numerical value of cheit (Minhag Avoseinu B’yudeinu 1:page 33:footnote 45).

[45] Be’er Moshe 3:97, Bais Hayotzer 43:page 33b.

[46] Refer to Rama 664:1, Mishnah Berurah 3, Aruch Ha’shulchan 11.

[47] Yad Yitzchok 1:208 (end).

[48] Minhag Avoseinu B’yudeinu 1:page 42. Refer to Minhag Yisroel Torah 583:page 89 who has a reason why the custom of some is to wait until Hoshanah Rabbah. Refer to Rama 611:2, Mishnah Berurah 7-8, Biur Halacha “u’liftzoa,” Aruch Ha’shulchan 8.

[49] Minhag Yisroel Torah 3:page 82

[50] Taamei Haminhagim (lekutim) 183, Minhag Yisroel Torah ibid, see Yehuda Yaaleh 1:157 regarding round matzahs. Refer to Minhag Yisroel 3:page 83 for a reason why some make challahs in the shape of birds.

[51] Refer to the Aish Hatorah website.

[52] Sefer Matamim Hachodesh page 49:13.

[53] Matamim page 163:18 (new).

[54] Moadim L’Simcha 1:page 111:footnote 51.

Rabbi Moishe D. Lebovits, a musmach of Rabbi Yisroel Belsky and Yeshiva Torah Vodaas. Currently he serves as a Rabbinical Administrator for KOF-K Kosher Supervision. Halachically Speaking is a monthly publication seen by tens of thousands around the world. For Halachically Speaking seforim see www.israelbookshoppublications.com For other articles and to subscribe for free see thehalacha.com To contact Rabbi Lebovits, please email [email protected]

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  1. Is this Gemora…cause who should I go by. “this one says yes u could use it. No u can’t cook with it….but if its this type of nut you can. I thought you should eat Remon on Rosh Hashana. Oh I am so confused now.
    I think the first line on this wonderful Devrei Torah should read. If your a women don’t read this (i know im womenizing) ask your husband father or brother to read it first

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