Laws of Rosh Hashanah
Since time is short, let us discuss some pertinent laws of Rosh Hashanah.
- Candles are lit in honor of Rosh Hashanah as they are in honor of every Shabbat and Yom Tov. The blessing of “Asher Kideshanu Be’Mitzvotav Ve’Tzivanu Le’Hadlik Ner Shel Yom Tov” is recited prior to lighting.
- Some women customarily recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing while lighting Yom Tov candles. It is nevertheless preferable not to recite this blessing while lighting candles as they will fulfill their obligation to recite this blessing through Kiddush recited by the head of the household. (See Chazon Ovadia- Yamim Nora’im, page 62)
- During the entire period of the Ten Days of Repentance beginning from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur, the “Ata Kadosh” blessing is concluded with the words “Ha’Melech Ha’Kadosh” and not “Ha’el Ha’Kadosh” as one usually would. If one mistakenly recited “Ha’el Ha’Kadosh,” one must return to the beginning of the Amida prayer.
- During the Amida prayers of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur within the “Ata Kadosh” blessing, four paragraphs, each beginning with the word “Uv’chen,” are inserted. There are great secrets included in this according to the Kabbalah. The text of this blessing is completely different than during the rest of the year. If after reciting the words “Uk’doshim Be’chol Yom Yehalelucha Selah,” one continues this blessing as usual and says the words “Baruch Ata Hashem,” one should conclude the blessing with the words “Ha’Melech Ha’Kadosh” and then continue the Amida as usual (with the “Ata Bechartanu” blessing). The reason for this is because the “Uv’chen” paragraphs and all other additions to the “Ata Kadosh” blessing do not hinder one’s prayer if one has not recited them.
- The prevalent Jewish custom already from the times of the Talmud is to eat certain symbolic fruits and vegetables on Rosh Hashanah (see Keritut 6a) which represent good and auspicious things for the coming year. After reciting Kiddush and eating a Kezayit of bread, one should begin the order of eating these symbolic foods.
- Since dates, one of the seven species of fruits that the Land of Israel was praised with, are one of these symbolic foods, one should begin by reciting the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” blessing on a date and eating some of it. One should then recite, “May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our fathers, that our enemies, haters, and all those who seek our harm cease to exist” and then proceed to eat more of it. The “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” blessing recited on the date will exempt any other fruits one eats from reciting a blessing on them.
- Some people customarily eat these symbolic foods and do not recite the “Yehi Ratzon” text before eating them. According to the Mekubalim, this is incorrect, for the prayer text recited before eating these symbolic foods is what causes the Heavenly abundance to be aroused. Indeed, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l would recite the “Yehi Ratzon” texts from within a Rosh Hashanah Machzor in a joyful manner.
- When one states, “Our enemies, haters, and all those who seek our harm cease to exist,” it is imperative that one not think about one’s Jewish enemies, even if they are terribly sinful before Hashem. On this day, one should pray that all sinners of Israel repent fully before Hashem. Indeed, the Gemara recounts that Abba Chilkiya had neighbors who were extremely wicked people and once, at the time of a drought in Israel, Abba Chilkiya prayed for rain on one side of the house and he was not answered. His wife, however, stood praying on the other side of the house and people noticed rain clouds coming from her direction. The reason why her prayers were answered more was because while her husband prayed that his enemies should die, she would pray for them to repent. (Chemdat Yamim, Month of Elul, Chapter 6)