Halacha for Thursday 25 Elul 5781 September 2 2021

The Symbolic Foods of Rosh Hashanah

Symbolism is Real
The Gemara (Horayot 12a and Keritut 6a) states that one should make sure to see the following foods on Rosh Hashanah as a good omen: Gourd, leek, spinach, and dates. Rashi explains that these fruits and vegetables are symbolically good to see on Rosh Hashanah because they grow faster than other fruits and vegetables. The Gemara in Masechet Keritut, however, states that one should eat these items, as opposed to merely seeing them as the Gemara in Masechet Horayot states. Indeed, this custom of eating these symbolic foods is codified by the Tur and Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 583). The Sefer Kol Bo writes that one should recite prayers in the form of “Yehi Ratzon” texts corresponding to the respective names of these items (as printed in Machzorim).

It is therefore customary to eat black-eyed peas, gourd, leek, spinach, dates, pomegranates, apples in honey, and head of lamb on the nights of Rosh Hashanah.

When These Symbolic Foods Are Eaten
By eating fruits or vegetables before a meal, one places himself in a doubtful situation regarding whether an after-blessing is required on these items or perhaps one fulfills his obligation to do so by reciting Birkat Hamazon at the conclusion of the meal. Since one should preferably not place one’s self into a doubtful situation regarding blessings, it is preferable to eat the aforementioned fruits and vegetables during the meal, meaning after one has eaten an olive’s volume (approximately 27 grams) of bread following the “Hamotzi” blessing. This was indeed the custom of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l.

Reciting the Blessing First
Are Blessings Recited on These Foods

When the various vegetables (black-eyed peas, leek, pumpkin, and spinach) and the meat of the sheep’s head are eaten during the meal, a “Ha’adama” or “Shehakol” blessing (respectively) should not be recited before eating them, for the “Hamotzi” blessing exempts them even when these items are eaten without bread since cooked vegetables are usually eaten along with bread.

When the various fruits (dates, pomegranates, and apples dipped in honey) are eaten during the meal, one must recite the “Ha’etz” blessing before eating them, for the “Hamotzi” blessing does not exempt them as they are not usually eaten together with bread.

When the “Yehi Ratzon” is Recited
Some have the custom to first recite the “Yehi Ratzon” text and only then to recite the appropriate blessing and eat. This custom is quoted by the Sefer Mateh Moshe (Chapter 590) and others. Nevertheless, this custom is not recommended since it is inappropriate to pose our own requests before blessing and praising Hashem. The prevalent custom is therefore to recite the blessing, taste the food, recite the “Yehi Ratzon” text, and then continue eating the food. This was indeed the custom of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l. He proceeds to support this ruling from a Gemara (Nedarim 32b) which states that Shem, son of Noach, also known as Malki Tzedek King of Shalem, who approached Avraham Avinu with bread and wine after winning the war against the four mighty kings. He blessed Avraham saying, “Blessed is Avram to G-d on high Who created Heaven and earth.” Only afterwards did he exclaim, “And blessed is G-d on high Who delivered your enemies in your hands.” Avraham Avinu exclaimed to Shem, “Does the blessing to a servant precede the blessing to the master?” Here too, it is therefore preferable to first recite the appropriate blessing on the food, taste a little bit, and only then recite the “Yehi Ratzon” text, which is our personal request for Heavenly mercy. (See Chazon Ovadia- Yamim Nora’im, page 94 and on)

Day and Night
Maran Ha’Chida writes (in his Machazik Beracha, Chapter 583) that the custom is to perform the symbolic eating of these foods on the second night of Rosh Hashanah as well. The Ben Ish Hai (Parashat Nitzavim) writes that it is customary to hold this order on both daytime meals of Rosh Hashanah. Nevertheless, the prevalent custom is to hold this symbolic order only during the Rosh Hashanah night meals. This was indeed the custom of Maran zt”l.

Individual Recitations
Every member of the household may recite the respective blessings and “Yehi Ratzon” texts on their own and they are not obligated to listen to the recitation of the head of the household and fulfill their obligation in that manner. One may nevertheless do as one pleases in this regard.

The Customary Order for the Nights of Rosh Hashanah
For the customary order of the nights of Rosh Hashanah, click here.

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

The Laws of Mentioning “Mashiv Ha’Ruach”

We Begin Reciting “Mashiv Ha’Ruach” “Mashiv Ha’Ruach U’Morid Ha’Geshem” is a praise we recite to Hashem during the winter months within the “Mechayeh Ha’Metim” blessing of the Amidah as is printed in all Siddurim. We begin recitin......

Read Halacha

A Rainbow

One Who Looks at a Rainbow Our Sages (Chagiga 16a) state: “The eyes of one who gazes at a rainbow are dimmed, as the verse (Yechezkel 1) states, ‘Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so is the radiance around and this is the appearance of the glory of Hashem.&r......

Read Halacha

Things Which Cause Forgetfulness

Five Things Which Cause One to Forget What He Has Learned The Gemara (Horayot 13b) states: “Our Sages taught: Five things cause one to forget the Torah one has learned: One who eats food which a cat or mouse have eaten from, one who eats the heart of an animal, one who eats olives regularly, ......

Read Halacha

Must One Recite a Blessing Before Merely Tasting a Food?

We have already discussed several times that regarding the laws of Blessings of Enjoyment recited before eating that there is no limit for reciting a blessing before eating, meaning that no matter what amount of food or beverage one eats or drinks, one must still recite a blessing. The reason for th......

Read Halacha


Question: At what point does it become permissible to speak after reciting a blessing on food? Is one permitted to speak immediately after placing the food in one’s mouth and tasting the food’s flavor or must one wait until one swallows the food?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (40a) and Rashi ibid. state that one may not speak in between reciting a blessing on food and eating it because this constitutes an interruption between the blessing and the eating and there is no longer any connection between them, as we have discussed severa......

Read Halacha

The Laws of One Who Forgets to Mention “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” in the “Blessing of the Years”

In the previous Halacha, we have discussed in a general manner that our Sages enacted that beginning from the Seventh of Marcheshvan (outside of Israel from the Fourth or Fifth of December), one begins reciting “Ve’Ten Tal U’Matar” (a request for dew and rain) in the “B......

Read Halacha

When the Sanctity of Shevi’it Will Apply to Fruits and Vegetables and More on “Heter Mechira”

In the previous Halachot we have explained that any produce grown in Jewish-owned fields in the Land of Israel this year (5782) retain the sanctity of Shevi’it. We have likewise discussed the ramifications of this sanctity and the proper way to treat such produce. This sanctity rests even on f......

Read Halacha

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha