Halacha for Wednesday 24 Elul 5781 September 1 2021

The Proper Behavior for the Days of Rosh Hashanah-The Custom of Maran zt”l

It is customary to eat red meat and sweet foods on the days of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse in Nechemia states, “Go eat fatty foods and drink sweet beverages and sent gifts of food to those who do not have, for the day is sanctified to our Lord.”

One may not fast at all on Rosh Hashanah. Nevertheless, one should not eat one’s entire fill so as not to cause one to act frivolously as one must keep the fear of Heaven before him. Some customarily dip the bread eaten at the time the “Hamotzi” blessing is recited into honey or sugar. The Kaf Ha’Chaim writes that one should nonetheless dip the bread in salt as well as one would throughout the rest of the year. Some customarily abstain from eating walnuts on Rosh Hashanah as the Hebrew word for walnut, “Egoz,” has the same numerical value as the Hebrew word for sin, “Chet” (seventeen, without the Aleph). According to the Kabbalah, one should abstain from eating red grapes on Rosh Hashanah; nevertheless, this only applies to red grapes and not to green grapes. On the contrary, it is actually auspicious to eat green grapes on Rosh Hashanah. Some customarily abstain from eating any bitter, sour, or spicy foods on Rosh Hashanah. Similarly, it is written in a responsa of the Geonim that one should not eat spicy foods on Rosh Hashanah.

It is customary not to sleep on Rosh Hashanah day (such as an afternoon nap and the like), for it is improper to sleep when the books of life and death are open before Hashem. Indeed, the Talmud Yerushalmi states that one who sleeps on Rosh Hashanah causes his fortune to “sleep.” Thus, one should try to arise at dawn on the morning of Rosh Hashanah or at the very least at sunrise and then proceed to carry out the appropriate preparations for prayer services. If one is tired and feels the need to sleep, one may sleep after halachic midday. Similarly, Rabbeinu Chaim Vital writes that his teacher, the holy Ari z”l, would sleep on Rosh Hashanah after halachic midday.

Besides for the “Simanim” (order of fruits and other foods eaten as an auspicious sign for the coming year) which are eaten on the days of Rosh Hashanah, which we shall discuss in a following Halacha, one must put forth an effort to be joyous during the Rosh Hashanah meals and not, G-d-forbid, be sad. One must be sure to treat his family joyfully and pleasantly and not waste his time doing unimportant, useless things. Indeed, the Poskim write that if one sits around idly and engages in idle chat and the like, it is considered as if one is sleeping; on the contrary, it is better for one to actually go to sleep than to sit around chatting idly. 

Some customarily read the entire book of Tehillim (Psalms) twice on Rosh Hashanah, for Tehillim consists of one-hundred-fifty chapters and twice this amount is equal to the numerical value of the Hebrew word “Kapper” (three-hundred) meaning “atone.” The Ben Ish Hai writes that some customarily learn the Mishnayot of Tractate Rosh Hashanah with the commentary of Rabbeinu Ovadia of Bartenura after or during the festive meal on the nights of Rosh Hashanah and this is indeed a fine custom.

Furthermore, Rabbeinu Yosef Haim writes in his Ben Ish Hai that one should take care not to become angry on Rosh Hashanah, for besides for the prohibition to become angry throughout the year, it is also ominous for one to become angry during these days. One should be careful not even to become angry in one’s heart. Thus, one must mentally prepare himself in advance to be completely happy on Rosh Hashanah, such that even if people anger him, one will be able to control his temper and not become angry.  

Indeed, there was no other day throughout the year when Maran zt”l was as happy as on the day of Rosh Hashanah when Maran was especially joyful and his happiness illuminated his entire countenance. Maran would smile and greet everyone with an abundance of patience and with no sign of irritability whatsoever on this day. On Rosh Hashanah, Maran would behave with an added sense of love and affection to all those who came to receive his blessing, for it is improper to be irritable on this day and it is an especially good omen to act joyfully and contently on this day, more than any of the other Simanim we perform. Nevertheless, this was done along with a sense of fear of the Day of Judgment, as the verse states, “And be joyful in trepidation.” May his merit serve to protect us all, Amen.

Ask the Rabbi


ספר אביר הרועים - בית מידות
ספר אביר הרועים
לפרטים לחץ כאן

הלכה יומית מפי הראש"ל הגאון רבי יצחק יוסף שליט"א

דין ברכת שפטרנו מעונשו של זה
לחץ כאן לצפייה בשיעורים נוספים

Recent Halachot

"תנא דבי אליהו כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא"

נדה ע"ג א'

8 Halachot Most Popular

Reciting Birkat Hamazon While Walking on One’s Way

Question: If one is eating while walking outdoors, may one recite Birkat Hamazon while continuing to walk? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have discussed that our Sages have enacted that one must recite Birkat Hamazon while sitting in order for the individual to have maximum concentration. ......

Read Halacha

The Significance of Tu Bishvat

The Fifteenth of Shevat or Tu Bishvat is the Rosh Hashanah for trees (Rosh Hashanah 2a). Most people commonly think that just as on the First of Tishrei, which is the day of Rosh Hashanah, all creations are judged for life or death, for wealth or poverty, and the like, so too, on Tu Bishvat, trees a......

Read Halacha

Reciting Birkat Hamazon While Seated

Question: Is one obligated to sit while reciting Birkat Hamazon or is it permissible to recite it while walking as well? Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (51b) states that one must recite Birkat Hamazon while seated. The Poskim as well as Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 183) rule li......

Read Halacha

A Dish Comprised of Several Kinds of Food

Question: What is the correct blessing on stuffed peppers? Similarly, what is the correct blessing on a cake which has just a little flour but the primary ingredients of the cake are fruits and nuts? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that when one eats two different foods requirin......

Read Halacha


Foods Which Contain Flour

During the past few days, we have discussed that when a dish is comprised of several different foods which require different blessings, one should recite the blessing on the primary food in the dish. Thus, if one eats grape leaves stuffed with rice, one should recite the Mezonot blessing, for the ri......

Read Halacha

The Law that the Blessing on a Primary Food Exempts a Secondary Food

Next Sunday night marks Tu Bishvat, a day we customarily recite many blessings. We shall therefore discuss the laws of blessing for the next several days. The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (44a) states: “The rule is: If there is a primary food and a secondary food along with it, one recites ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of a Primary and Secondary Food Regarding Blessings

Question: If one eats a slice of bread along with fish, is it possible that one only recites a blessing on the fish and the bread will be considered secondary to the fish and exempted by it? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained the basic laws of primary and secondary foods regarding ......

Read Halacha

The Order for Lighting Shabbat and Chanukah Candles

There is a disagreement among the Rishonim as to the order of lighting Shabbat and Chanukah candles on Erev Shabbat Chanukah. The Ba’al Halachot Gedolot (commonly referred to as “Behag”) is of the opinion that Chanukah candles must be lit before Shabbat candles because women cu......

Read Halacha