Halachos and Minhagim of Rosh Hashanah | Rabbi Moshe Rotberg (Printable)

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Do we Believe in Superstition?

The Gemara in Horeos (12a) and Krisus (5b) discusses different ways for a person to determine whether or not he is destined to have a good year.

Such examples are lighting a candle during Aseres Y’mai T’shuvah and watching to see if the fire is straight and other such signs. Based on this Abaye says that this one should eat certain foods which symbolize different blessings on Rosh Hashana since we see that symbolism is allowed in halacha in some cases. The Rishonim and Achronim ask why this is allowed. There is a prohibition of Lo Tinachashu which means one is prohibited in trying to find different signs and symbols to predict or influence the future. The Meiri in Horeos writes that which we do simanim on the night of Rosh Hashana while it is not nechisha it does give the appearance of it. Therefore, he explains Chazal instituted saying different teffilos which make it clear that these objects are simply intended as a way of prayer to a higher power. However, if one mistakenly believes that the actual eating of the foods will alter his future that would be forbidden.

The Maharsha (Horeos 12a however in many prints it is accidentally printed on 12b) explains that the only prohibition of nichisha is with regard to negative things, however defining goodness which is only from Hashm is allowed.

Do I really Need to Eat These Foods, can I Just Look at Them?

One who is not fond of or is not allowed to eat the foods intended for a siman may make a b’racha on seeing them as well (See Bais Yosef 583;1 s.v. omar Abaye as well as the Kaf Hachaim Ibid 6). The reason is based on the fact that there is a different girsa in the Gemara which includes one seeing the foods and not just one who eats them. Additionally, as explained the primary focus is the teffilah thus eating it is not required.

Reciting the Yehi Ratzon with Hashms Name or Not

There is a machlokes whether one recites the yehi ratzon prior to eating these foods with Hash-ms name or not. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (129;9) and the Steipler (Orchos Rabainu Vol. 2 page 175) state not to recite Hash-ms name. The Mishnah Berurah (583; 2) and others state that one should recite with Hash-ms name. In the Sefer V’dbarta Bom (160;2) it is brought that Rav Dovid Feinstein zt”l maintains that one can recite Hash-ms name since after all it is a teffilah, he adds that was his father’s custom (although he himself does not do so).

There are those who differentiate between the first and second night and that they only recite the yehi ratzonwith the name of Hashm on the first night. The reason is based on the fact that there is question about whether or not the Gemara necessitates these simanim only on the first night of Rosh Hashana and not on the second night.

Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l would recite it on both nights (since the Gemara brings the requirement twice (once to see the simanim and once to eat them) although the second night he would do it quicker with not as much emphasis.

Does one Eat the Fruit Prior to saying the Yehi Ratzon?

The prevailing opinion is that one should make a b’racha haeitz eat a little piece and then recite the yehi ratzon. However, if one did make the yehi ratzon first it is not considered a hefsek since it is considered l’tzorech the achilah.

Does one Recite a B’racha on Eating Vegetables as Simanim?

Some of the special foods eaten on Rosh Hashana is the kara and rubia and silka which are vegetables. The Siddur Hayavetz (Seudas Lel RH Simanim) states that one should make a b’racha since it is not coming as part of the seudah. As such rules Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l and others (Shalmei Moed). However, there are others who suggest that one should not make a b’rachasince essentially one does eat vegetables as part of a meal. Many do make a b’racha since the simanim are not intended as part of the meal.

Which Fruits should be Eaten First

Some state that one should make a bracha on the date first since it is from the 7 species. Others state that one should recite the b’racha on the apple first as that was the established custom brought in halacha to recite the yehi ratzon on an apple and honey.

How Much Fruit can I Eat?

Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l rules that preferably one should not eat enough fruits to require him to have to recite a b’racha achrona as it creates a shaila with regard to b’racha achronal prior to a meal.

Reciting Shehechiyanu the First Night of Rosh Hashana on the Fruit

Some of the customary fruits people have on the night of Rosh Hashana, some, one may has not have had all year so that he needs recite the b’racha of shehechiyanu. The question which arises is, whether it is best to keep the fruit on the table during the recital of kiddush so that the birchas shehechiyanu recited by Kiddush can exempt the fruit as well from the birchas shehechiyanu, thus minimizing the need for another b’racha, or not. The Minchas Shlomo (Vol. 20) writes that one should not have the fruit placed on the table during kiddush. He explains that the shehechiyanu which one makes during kiddush and the shehechiyanu one recites on the fruit are by nature different. During Kiddush we are reciting shehechiyanu on the day which is not like the shehechiyanu on the fruit which is being recited on the fruit being eaten.

Therefore, on the first night of Rosh Hashana one should make sure that there are no fruits requiring a shehechiyanu on the table during kiddush. If it was mistakenly left of the table, the K’sav Sofer maintains that one should still make a b’racha on the fruit, since the b’racha on the yom has nothing to do with the fruit.

Second Night Rosh Hashana with Regard to Shehechiyanu

The second night of Rosh Hashana is different in this regard. The reason for this is since there is a question in the Gemara whether or not the two days of Rosh Hashana are considered one extended Yom Tov which if so then he already recited a shehechiyanu on it the first night, or whether they are considered two separate ones thereby requiring its own independent b’racha.

In Shulchan Aruch (600;2) it is written that on the second day of Rosh Hashana one should wear a new article of clothing or place a new fruit on the table during kiddush and then recite shehechiyanu, if one doesn’t have that or forgot, he should still recite shehechiyanu. This is based on a minority opinion that one would not make a shehechiyanu on the second night of Rosh Hashana by Kiddush. It is important to note that one should have in mind the yom as well since that is the main requirement according to the majority of opinions.

This seems to be a dichotomous from the opinion of the K’sav Sofer who we have previously quoted that the b’racha on the fruit and yom have no correlation and they therefore cannot be made in conjunction. However, see the Minchas Shlomo as to how he seems to resolve this issue.

The Bracha of Shehechiyanu- What, When and Why Is it Only Fruits?

The b’racha of shehechiyanu can be recited on both fruits and vegetables, or anything which grows. Rav Yehoshua Leib Diskind zt”l would recite a shehechiyanu on pineapple, the Chazon Ish zt”l would recite it on a pickle (Orchos Rabainu Vol. 1 hosafos page 13) and Rav Elyashiv zt”l maintained that one recites it even on melons (V’zos Habracha 18 page 160). As we will explain later, today these items would not require a b’racha as they are so common all the time and do not have special chashivus.

Is it a Real Requirement Even if one Doesn’t Derive Pleasure?

Shehechiyanu which is recited on new items is different then the shehechiyanu recited as a result of it being the first day of Yom Tov. The b’racha of shehechiyanu on new objects is giving thanks for the joy received of the said object.

The b’racha of shehechiyanu can technically be recited even if one sees a fruit which has finished growing although most will only actually make this b’racha if one has actually eaten the fruit.

The Mishnah Berurah (225;9) quotes the Magan Avrohom and others that this b’racha (when being recited on new objects) is not required rather it is a r’shus that if one does not do so they will not be punished. (See Biur Halacha (219;4 s.v. V’ain) that this does not mean that this is optional rather it is not a chiyuv gamur).

Thus Shu”t Chasam Sofer (55) as discussed by Rav Wosner zt”l (Vol. 4; 25) writes that according to those opinions that this is only a r’shus one whom does not derive pleasure from it does not recite the b’racha. However, if one is to maintain that it is an absolute requirement then one would always have to recite a shehechiyanu on a new fruit.

Rav Elyashiv zt”l disagrees with this premise and maintains that no matter what one needs to recite a shehechiyanu on a new fruit as this is the takanas ChazalSee Vezos Habracha (18:1, pg. 159) in his name and yb”l Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a as such as well. Rav Elyashiv adds (Ashrei Ha’ish Vol. 1 39; 2) that the b’racha is not just on the actual fruit but rather on the actual new season of fruits, thus even if one is not filled with joy as a result of the fruit being eaten, he still should recite the b’racha.

Which B’racha is Recited First?

Another interesting question discussed in the Achronim is whether one first recites the shehechiyanu on the fruit (ha-etz) or the shehechiyanu. There are various factors to consider when deciding this question. If one recites the shehechiyanu secondly is that a hefsek? Is the fact that shehechiyanu is a r’shus a reason to recite it later? Is there a question of tadir v’sheaino tadir?

The Pri Megadim is of the opinion that the shehechiyanu is recited first. The Aruch Hashulchan (Ibid) adds that there is no issue of tadir since the two requirements are not commencing at the same time this is not an issue. As is explained there, the chiyuv to recite shehechiyanu is essentially in force when one even just sees the fruit.

If one recited the shehechiyanu even after tasting the fruit, the Mishnah Berurah (225;11) writes that this too is fine.

How many Shehechiyanus are Recited?

One whom ate one fruit and recited a shehechiyanu on a fruit and subsequently someone brought them another fruit which while in the “same family” it tastes different one would make an additional birchas shehechiyanu on it. The reason given is since ultimately there is additional joy, thus another b’racha can be recited (See S.A. 225;4 Mishnah Berurah (Ibid) Ig”m O.C. Vol. 2; 58).

The Chazon Ish states (Orchos Rabainu Vol. 1 hasafos page 12) that even if with regard to klayim two species would be considered as being only one with regard to shehechiyanu this would not be the case. The difference in tastes need to be dramatically different though (See Birchas Habayis (Shaar 24; 11) and can’t just be only noticeable.

Which Types of Fruit Require a Shehechiyanu?

The Shulchan Aruch states that only fruits which are seasonal do we recite a shehechiyanu on. There is a discussion there in the Mishnah Berurah (Ibid 18) with regard to fruits which are stored and therefore available all year around for the consumer. In the modern times this is a far greater issue. That is since today with the advent of commercial international shipping all fruit is practical available at all places for the right price all year round. Based on this, we would not be able to recite shehechiyanu today.

However, there are long discussions in the Poskim (Ig”m O.C. 3; 34, T’shuvos V’hanhagos Vol. 1; 201) in this regard. Some state that one should not recite shehechiyanu. This for example was the practice of the Satmar Rav zt”l, he never recited a shehechiyanu on fruit. However, most Poskim conclude that since ultimately these fruits in the right season are more accessible, affordable and better quality this is reason enough to allow one to recite a shehechiyanu.

Women and Hadlokas Neiros

Women lighting neiros on the second night of Rosh Hashana if possible should wear a new dress and have that in mind when reciting the shehechiyanu. However, if she does not have a new dress she should place a new fruit by the candles while making the b’racha. Even though the woman has already recited the shehechiyanu prior to Kiddush she can recite Amen to the b’racha of her husband’s Kiddush and it is not considered a hefsek (Ig”m O.C. Vol. 4 101).

Two Different Fruits on the Table

If one has two different fruits on the table requiring a shehechiyanu then under all circumstances one would only make one b’racha for both. The same is true if there were fruits and vegetables on the table at the same time, or even a fruit and an article of clothing. If they were both on the table then even if one is planning on eating the second fruit later he would still only make one b’racha (based on the fact that according to some sources seeing the fruit is enough to require a birchas shehechiyanu. See Igros Moshe Vol.1; 87 and see Kaf Hachaim 225;31 with regard to a case in which the person had specific intent not to be yotze.)

Eating before Tekias Shofar

One of the most common discussed with regard to tekias shofar is whether one is allowed to eat prior to hearing the shofar. In general, there is an accepted halacha that one is not allowed to eat before performing the mitzvah. The question is whether or not this applies to the tekias shofar as well. What makes this particularly difficult is the fact that at times tekias shofar is not until many hours into the day which can be difficult especially for a choleh or one who is weak.

Even some that are stringent when it comes to other mitzvos are more lenient when it comes to tekias shofar yet others maintain the stringent approach even when dealing with tekias shofar (Sharei T’shuvah 584; 3, Rav Akiva Eiger 589). Many have the custom to be lenient and eat prior to tekias shofar. Especially when dealing with a choleh there are those who state that they can eat either prior to Shacharis or prior to tekios shofar (however, they would then need to recite kiddush prior to tekiyas shofar- Chassam Sofer Y.D. 7 Shevet Halevi Vol. 4 54;3)

The reason for the leniency for any person to eat before tekios is based on numerous factors. 1. Where there are many people together there is an assumption that they will remind each other not get distracted and not fulfill the mitzvah, thus it is like having a shomer (Eiruvin 3a). 2. One is not supposed to fast on Yom Tov past chatzos (See Tzitz Eliezer Vol. 6 7;2).

In Lakewood Yeshivah there would be kiddush with some cake after leining prior to tekios. It is said that this was the custom since the days of the Rosh Yeshivah Rav Ahron Kotler zt”l.

One who Missed the B’rachos

If one comes to Shul prior to the blowing of Shofarbut after the b’rachos have already been recited, he should listen to the Shofar and have in mind to be yotze. He should then recite the bracho in between the sets. If one did not make a b’raho until after all 3 sets he should not make a b’racho (See Kaf Hachaim Ibid 29). If someone came into Shul by mussaf shmona esrei and they will be blowing shofar during shmonah esrei he should have in mind not to be motzi from those t’kios so as not to get involved with this issue (See Toras Hayoledes 49;5). After shmonah esrei he should make a b’racho prior to the blowing of shofar. He can hear the remainder kolos after davening.

Buying Aliyos on Yomim Noraim

The Mishnah Berurah (484;8) as well as the Mateh Ephraim (Ibid 17) write that there is a big inyan to purchase an aliya during the yomim noraim even if it is expensive. There is a question of whether or not mechirah of mitzvos is considered a mekach umemkar which is prohibited on Shabbos. There are many whom rule that selling aliyos would not be considered mechiras shel issur.

Sleeping on Rosh Hashana

There is a well- known custom not to sleep on Rosh Hashana (Rema 583;2). The Taz brings from the Yerushalmi that the concern is that this would affect one’s mazal. The Aruch Hashulchan (587;2) seems to suggest that this is only the case on the first day of Rosh Hashana when the main day of judgment is. It seems that the main refrain of sleeping was until chatzos, however, after chatzos there was not the same level of prohibition. For one whom falls asleep while learning or in general one whom instead of learning will do nothing- yoshev batel, he may fall asleep.

Women and Tekias Shofar

Women only need to hear 30 blasts and not the full 100. The same applies to the elderly or infirm whom have a baal tokea come to them. It is best for an Ashkenazi woman to make the b’racha for herself and the other women.

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