Laws and Customs of Rosh Hashana 5778
Sponsored by the Mendal Family in memory of their parents, Shmerel Moshe ben Haim, Yahrtzeit, Elul 14, and Devorah Sheva bas Avrohom HaKohen, Yahrtzeit, Cheshvan 15. May their neshamos have an Aliyah.
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Times are taken from Chabad.org and are correct for Miami Beach, Fl.
For times in other locations, see below.
Erev Rosh Hashana
Wednesday, September 20 / 29 Elul
- No Tachnun (confessional prayer) is recited on Erev Rosh Hashana, but it is said in the morning Selichot as well as in Mincha of the preceding day. Because the Selichot are traditionally recited before daybreak, it is not yet “Erev Rosh Hashana” and therefore allowed.
- One should rise early and recite the Selichot of this day with emotion and tears in order to approach the King who is forgiving and merit a positive judgment. One should recite the Selichot slowly, with humility and with a broken heart. The living should take to heart that it is a time to beseech G-d. We should remember that we are mere flesh, a wind that comes and does not return. One should remember the days they wasted in vanity. And realize that “if not now, when?”
- A mourner may go to Shul on Erev Rosh HaShana for Selichot and davening.
- The Shofar is not blown on Erev Rosh Hashana. This is in order to differentiate between the obligatory blowing of the Shofar on Rosh Hashana and the customary blowing during the month of Elul. This is also to confuse the Satan so that he should think that the judgment of Rosh Hashana has passed. (This means that the Satan will think that we are already deemed meritorious by G-d and no longer need judgment.)
- It is preferable that even a Ba’al Toke’ah who blows the Shofar for the community not practice on this day. If he needs to do so, he may do so in private (so that others should not think that one may blow the Shofar on this day).
- The Chazzan (leader of the prayers) and Ba’al Toke’ah should distance themselves from any (spiritual) impurity for three days before Rosh Hashana. The Chazzan should review the meaning of the prayers and, if possible, their mystical meanings. This is a good practice for people who are not Chazzanim as well. See below regarding the Ba’al Toke’ah.
- If a Shul does not have a fixed Chazzan, they should appoint one who is preferably G-d-fearing, married, with children, at least 30 or 25 years old, and involved in communal affairs.
- Although, generally, one who is in mourning should not be a chazzan on Shabbat and Yom Tov, if a shul’s regular chazzan is in mourning (may G-d have mercy), he may continue to serve as chazzan on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur as well. The same applies to a Ba’al Toke’ah (one who blows the Shofar).
Some have a custom to fast on Erev Rosh Hashana as an aid to Teshuvah before the great judgment day. Nevertheless, they should break the fast before Yom Tov begins so that they not enter Yom Tov while still hungry.
The Annulment of Vows
- After Shacharit (morning prayers), men recite Hatarat Nedarim – the Annulment of the Vows (page 358 in the new Chabad Siddur). It is preferable to have ten adult Jewish men for this ceremony, i.e., one man does it in front of ten people. The reason it is best to have 10 is in case one made a vow in a dream. Such vows may only be annulled in front of ten people. If this is difficult, one may do the Hatarat Nedarim with four people, i.e., one man does it in front of three men.
- A relative may participate in annulling the vows of a relative.
- If one does not understand Hebrew, he should recite the Hatarat Nedarim in the language he understands.
- It is preferable for each person to recite this Hatarah individually. If this is not possible, several people may say it simultaneously in front of three or (preferably) ten people.
- One who did not recite it after Shacharit may do so later on in the day. One who did not do this on Erev Rosh Hashana may do it any time before Yom Kippur.
- It is not the custom for women to do the annulment of vows. If a woman has a specific vow that she wishes to annul, she may do so with a bait din (a court of three Jewish men) that includes a Torah scholar who is familiar with these laws (see below). Or she may send her husband to annul them on her behalf (on Erev Rosh HaShana or on any day).
- Children up until Bar Mitzvah need not do the annulment of the vows.
Some say that this general annulment only works for vows which were forgotten. But that one who wishes to annul a specific vow must inform one of the members of this court who is familiar with the laws of annulling vows as to what the vow was. Then, if according to the laws of annulling vows, this vow may be nullified, they may do so.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe founded an innovative tzedaka fund called “Keren Hashanah – the Fund for the Year.” The Rebbe explained that this fund would ensure that everyone gives charity every day of the year. The fund disburses tzedaka twice every single day on behalf of all those that participate in the fund. The Rebbe said that donations should be made on behalf of all members of the family in the amount matching the number of days in the year.
You can donate to this fund here
Visiting the Graves of Tzadikim
- Many have a custom to visit the graves of tzadikkim (righteous men) on Erev Rosh Hashana. This is in order to pray in a holy place. The prayers uttered in such a holy place are more readily accepted. In addition, it is customary to ask that the holy souls of the righteous intercede on our behalf in Heaven.
- One should pray to G-d when visiting these holy sites. Many authorities permit one to ask the soul of the tzadik to intercede with G-d on their behalf. Certainly, one may not pray to a deceased tzadik and ask for his assistance.
- It is customary not to eat before visiting the graves of tzadikim. But it is customary to drink.
Haircuts and Bathing
- It is customary to take a haircut (if necessary) and bathe on Erev Rosh HaShana. This is to show that we are confident that the Almighty will find us meritorious in judgment.
- We don our Shabbat garments in honor of Rosh Hashana, confident that G-d will bless all of us with a good and sweet year. However, some have a custom not to wear clothes on Rosh Hashana that are as nice as Shabbat and Yom Tov clothes.
Mikvah for Men
It is proper for men to immerse in a Mikvah on Erev Rosh Hashana to ensure that one is in a state of purity for the holiday. For this purpose, one may even use a swimming pool or other man-made body of water. If one does not have access to a mikvah or a pool, one should take a thorough shower for three or four minutes in lieu of immersion. One should ensure the water lands on their heads and on their entire body.
- The immersion in the mikvah should take place any time after the hour before midday.
- One should immerse (at least) three times.
- See Kaf HaChaim who recommends eight immersions. During these eight immersions one should intend to 1) cleanse oneself from impurity, 2) cleanse oneself from anger, 3) fix that which one blemished in the 72-letter name of G-d, 4) and in the 63-letter name of G-d, 5) and in the 45-letter name of G-d, 6) and in the 52-letter name of G-d, 7) to remove one’s “weekday garments” from his soul, 8) and to accept on oneself the holiness of the holiday of Yom HaZikaron (the Day of Remembrance).
- One should ensure that the poor members of one’s community have the necessary means to purchase and prepare food for Yom Tov.
One must make an Eiruv Tavshillin on this day in order to permit cooking on Friday for Shabbat.
This involves taking a complete roll and a cooked piece of food (e.g. a piece of fish, chicken or even an egg) and reciting the text and blessing of the eiruv (page 327 in the new Chabad Sidur). One who is making the eiruv on behalf of a community should have someone else first lift up the foods on behalf of the community and say the text printed in the Siddur (ani mezakeh).
- On Friday, the food should be prepared in such a way that it is all edible before Shabbat begins.
- The food and challah which he put aside should be kept separate and not eaten until Shabbat begins.
- It is preferable to use the challah of the Eiruv for Lechem Mishnah on Friday night and on Shabbat day and then to eat it on Shabbat day for the third meal. This follows the principle that if an object was used for a mitzvah, it should be used again for another mitzvah.
- One who did not eat the challah or food on Shabbos has still fulfilled the mitzvah of eiruv.
- One who forgot to make the eiruv may be able to rely on the eiruv made by the rabbi of the community as follows:
- If one completely forgot to make an eiruv, or was so busy that he did not have a chance to do it, he may rely on the eiruv that was made by the rabbi of the community on behalf of all the community members. Similarly, an unlearned person who did not know about this mitzvah or who thought that one may rely on the rabbi even in the first place and thus did not make his own, may rely on the rabbi’s eiruv (even though his thinking was wrong).
- Whereas if one postponed making the eiruv in a manner that is negligent, he cannot rely on the rabbi’s eiruv. Rather he should give his ingredients to a friend or neighbor who did make an eiruv for the friend to cook for him.
Regarding other yamim tovim, if one forgot to make the Eiruv before Yom Tov, they may make it on the first day of Yom Tov. This does not apply to Rosh HaShana, however. He must make it on Erev Yom Tov.
The Mincha on Erev Rosh HaShanah is the last prayer of the year. It is important to recite this prayer with concentration. It is written in the sefarim (holy books) that one can fix all his prayers of that year which were recited without concentration (kavana) by reciting them once with concentration anytime that year. Thus, this Mincha is the very last opportunity.
If one did not recite Hatarat Nedarim (annulment of vows) after Shacharit, one should recite it after Mincha.
The Rebbe Rashab would accept upon himself an additional Hiddur Mitzvah (an extra praiseworthy way of performing a Mitzvah(, a zehirut in a lo ta’aseh (an extra precaution to distance himself from sin) and a hanhagah tovah (a good practice) every year before (or during) Rosh HaShanah.
This practice is in line with the following teaching of the Baal Shem Tov. The verse says “Tiku Bachodesh Shofar – Blow the Shofar in the new month.” The word chodesh (month) can also mean renewal. Thus the verse can be interpreted to mean “Blow the shofar with renewed energy” and not simply like an old obligation. Since Rosh Hashana is emblematic of the entire year, this lesson applies to our service to G-d throughout the year – that one should always serve Him with a renewed vitality and excitement and not merely by rote.
First Night of Rosh Hashanah
Wednesday night, 1 Tishrei, September 20
Candle-lighting time is 7:01 p.m.
- Some say that it is best to light at candle-lighting time and not delay until later on – during Yom Tov. This is in order to fulfill the mitzvah of adding from the weekday to the Yom Tov.
- One may light after dark as well but if so, one must make sure to light from a pre-existing flame.Some customarily light Yom Tov candles before the Yom Tov meals begin.
- The two Brachot are: Baruch…L’hadlik Ner Shel Yom Hazikaron followed by the Shehechiyonu blessing..
- If a man lights the Yom Tov candles, he should not recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu as he will recite this during Kiddush.
- One who will need a pre-existing flame from which to light the candles on the second night should light a 24 hour candle before sundown.
Praising the Jews
The Rebbe Maharash once remarked to his son the Rebbe Rashab, “Hundreds of angels wait on Rosh HaShanah for a Jew to praise another Jew because they (the angels) know that G-d desires the praise of a Jew even more than the prayers of the righteous.”
The minutes and hours of Rosh HaShanah are extremely precious and should not be wasted. This is a time which is more elevated than the rest of the year, both in quantity and quality, in the same way the brain is superior to the other limbs of the body.
It is appropriate to recite Tehillim during one’s spare time on Rosh HaShanah. Some endeavor to complete the entire Tehillim twice. The number of chapters recited (300) is the gematriyah of kaper (atone). It is better to recite less quantity and have more kavanah (concentration).
No Smoking Zone
Even if one smokes during the year (this is strongly discouraged by doctors and rabbis), one should refrain from doing so on Rosh HaShana.
- It is customary to say Tehillim before Maariv. In addition, as mentioned above, one should recite Tehillim at every opportunity during the 49 hours of Rosh Hashana.
- After the Amidah, we recite Psalm 24 (LeDavid Mizmor). Saying this prayer with concentration is a segulah (spiritually propitious act) for parnassah (ample livelihood) throughout the year. One may also recite this prayer at home anytime during this night.
- During these judgment days, one should take care to recite every word of prayer clearly and not garble them.
- According to the Arizal, when one is moved to tears during the prayers on the High Holidays, it is a sign that he is being judged at that time. Therefore, one should pray with great kavana (concentration) at that time. If one doesn’t cry at all during these days, it is a sign that one’s neshama (soul) is blemished.
- Even if one was, G-d forbid, sealed for death in the book of the wicked, he can fix this and be written in the book of life for the tzadikim by doing teshuvah and praying with tears.
- See below regarding the laws of the special insertions in the prayers during the Ten Days of Repentance.
Some have a custom to wear a kittel (a white garment which resembles a shroud) for the Rosh HaShana prayers.
In some communities only the Chazzan and Ba’al Toke’ah wear a kittel. This includes the chazzan for pesukei dezimrah, shachrit and musaf but not the chazzan for mincha and ma’ariv.
The Chabad custom is not to wear a kittel. This applies to the Chazzan and Ba’al Toke’ah as well.
After Ma’ariv it is customary to greet one another in the following way:
- To a man, one should say: L’shana Tova Tikatev Vetaichatem.
- To a woman we say: L’shana Tova Tikatvi Vetaichatmi.
- Some add the words le’alter lechayim tovim uleshalom (immediately for good life and peace).
- The Chabad custom is to say this greeting in the singular, even when greeting an important person that one would normally address in third person.
- When greeting a group (of men or of men and women) one should say: L’shana Tova Tekataivu Veteichataimu.
These greetings shouldn’t be given after midday (chatzot) of the (second) day of Yom Tov because by then the “inscribing” of Rosh HaShana has (hopefully) been completed. Some say that these greetings should only be given on the first night of Rosh HaShanah.
- It is customary to use round Challot for Rosh Hashana. (Some continue with this custom until Hoshana Rabbah – the last day of Sukkot.)
- I have heard that the round circle which has no end signifies a long life as well as the ongoing cycle of the calendar. It also resembles the crown with which we coronate G-d as our King on Rosh Hashana.
- Following Hamotzi, one should dip the Challah (three times) in honey. It is customary to dip the Challah in honey during all of the Rosh Hashana meals as well as on Erev Yom Kippur, the night after Yom Kippur, the Yamim Tovim of Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah. One should have salt on the table as well.
- It was customary for the Chabad Rebbes to mention all of their holy predecessors during the Rosh Hashanah meals.
During the meal of the first night of Rosh Hashana, it is customary to eat various foods that symbolize good things for the coming year. The prevalent custom is to eat these foods after saying the blessing of HaMotzie, but some eat them before HaMotzie.
- Apple dipped in honey
- At the beginning of the meal, (after eating the Challah) one should take a piece of apple, dip it into honey, recite the Bracha – Borei Pri Haetz, recite the Ye’hi Ratzon (Siddur pg. 277, Machzor page 39) and eat it. This is the Chabad custom.
- Some have a custom to say the bracha, eat a little of the apple, say the Ye’hi Ratzon and then eat some more.
- The Chabad custom is to make the blessing on the apple and eat it first although it is not one of the fruits of Israel (see below).
- We eat pomegranates as a sign that we should have as many merits as a pomegranate has seeds.
- One should say She’hechiyanu before eating the pomegranate if it is the first time of the season that one is eating it. Alternatively, one may place the pomegranate on the table before making kiddush and have in mind that the She’hechiyanu of kiddush also “count” for the pomegranate.
- Please note, one should have a new fruit other than a pomegranate for the second night (see below).
- Fish head
- We eat the head of a fish (or other kosher animal) as a symbol that we should be a head and not a tail.
- Some eat the head of a ram to invoke the merit of the Akeidah – the binding of Isaac.
- We eat fish as a symbol that we should be fruitful and multiply like fish.
- Ashkenazim eat carrots as the word for carrots in Yiddish is merrin which also means “to become more” (i.e., to be fruitful and multiply).
- In Hebrew, the word for leeks is karti, indicating that our enemies should be cut off.
- The word for date, tamar, also means means to finish off (tam). This symbolizes that our enemies should be finished.
- Selek means beets as well as “remove.” This symbolizes that our enemies should be removed.
- The word for pumpkin in Hebrew is kra indicating that our bad decrees should be ripped up and our merits should be read in front of Hashem (kra with an alef [קרא] means “read” while kera with an ayin [קרע] means “rip”).
- Fenugreek is called rubia in Aramaic and we are asking that G-d increase our merits (rov means many.)
- Some say that the “silka” of the Talmud, which is normally translated as beets, actually means cooked spinach, because the Arabic term for the spinach was “salk.”
- and black-eyed peas.
- The Arabic term for the black eyed peas was “lubia,” pronounced similar to “rubia” which means to increase.
The Brachot (Blessings)
As mentioned above, the Chabad custom is to make the ha’etz blessing on the apple. The custom in Sefardic communities is to make the beracha of ha’etz on the date (or the pomegranate if one does not have a date) since it is one of the seven species.
One need not make the beracha of ha’adama on cooked vegetables (e.g., pumpkin and leeks) as these are foods that are normally eaten during the meal and are “covered” by the HaMotzie blessing on the challa.
Prayers on the Foods
- There are particular prayers that accompany each food and are printed in the Machzor.
- According to the Shela (Rabbi Isaiah HaLevi Horowitz, 1565 – 1630), the main objective in eating these foods is that the person should be inspired when reciting these prayers.
- Although eating these foods have significance, certainly doing Teshuva and increasing in mitzvot is more important than these.
- If one does not like any of these foods, he can recite these prayers (or think them) while simply looking at the foods. In fact, the Talmud (Horayot, 12a) says that one should “see” these food items on Rosh Hashana.
- Chabad custom is not to recite these prayers, with the exception of the yehi ratzon on the apple. (It would seem that one should have these intentions “in mind.”)
Sefardim and some Ashkenazim have the custom to eat the above symbolic foods on the second night of Rosh HaShana as well. The Chabad custom is to eat these foods only on the first night.
The Mishna Berurah says that in addition to all of the above “signs” for a good year, it is obvious that one should refrain from getting angry during these days. Rather, one should be glad in his heart and trust in G-d together with (doing) teshuvah (repentance) and mitzvot.
Off the Menu
On Rosh HaShana it is customary not to eat sour or bitter foods, e.g., pickles or horseradish. This symbolizes that we shouldn’t have a “sour” year, but rather, a sweet year. Drinking hard liquor is acceptable (in moderation, of course).
It is also customary not to eat nuts as eating nuts adds to one’s saliva and thus may disturb one’s concentration in prayer. In addition, the Gematriyah (numerical value) of Egoz /nut is 17, the same numerical value as Chet/sin (not counting the “alef” which is not vocalized). Also, some refrain from eating these foods until after Hoshana Rabbah.
Grace After Meals
- If one forgot to add Ya’ale Veyavo (the holiday insertion) when saying Birkat HaMazon (Grace after Meals) after a night meal of Rosh HaShana, one should repeat the Birkat HaMazon. If one forgot to recite Ya’ale Veyavo during the Birkat HaMazon after a day meal, one need not repeat the Birkat HaMazon.
- Near the conclusion of the Birkat HaMazon, after Mimarom (Siddur pg. 93) we add the Harachaman for Yom Tov and then the one for Rosh Hashana.
It is best for one to refrain from marital relations on both nights of Rosh HaShana. This is not forbidden by the letter of the law. Therefore, if it is the Mikvah night, it is permissible.
The First Day of Rosh Hashana
Thursday, September 21 / 1 Tishrei
It is best to rise before dawn on Rosh Hashana (5:27 a.m.) or at least before sunrise (7:09 a.m.).
Melodies in the Prayers
The chazzan should not deviate from any of the nigunim (songs) that are customary in the community even by singing melodies that he believes are nicer. This would confuse the attention of the congregants and cause them to not concentrate properly. On this awesome day, one should not try to show off. The main thing is the kavana (concentration) in the heart of the chazzan.
We read about the birth of Isaac on this day as Sarah was “remembered” by G-d regarding the birth of Isaac on this day. (This means that G-d decreed on Rosh HaShana that Sara should give birth to Isaac in the coming year). The Haftorah discusses the birth of the prophet Samuel for the same reason.
- Some communities have the custom of giving an aliyah to the Ba’al Toke’ah and Chazzan for Musaf. This is not necessary if they are being paid for their services.
- It is a merit to receive an aliyah on the High Holy Days. One should try to receive one even if he has to pay for it. The payment makes the mitzvah more precious.
- If there is a brit on Rosh HaShanah it should be performed before the blowing of the Shofar.
In many communities, it is customary for the rabbi to speak before the blowing of the Shofar. He should speak words that move the heart, engender humility and move one to Teshuvah.
Eating Before Hearing the Shofar
- It is best not to eat or drink before hearing the Shofar blowing.
- Although generally one should not fast past midday on Shabbat and Yom Tov, on Rosh Hashaha (that falls during the week), when we are pleading for our lives, this is permissible.
- One may drink water before davening (praying). Some are particular not even to drink water.
- One who is weak may have a small snack. If eating after Shacharit, one must first make Kiddush. Some say that if one is weak, it is better that he hear the Shofar blasts in the morning before davening in order that he not eat before fulfilling the mitzvah of the Shofar.
The Baal Toke’ah
The one who blows the Shofar (Ba’al Toke’ah) should be a righteous and learned person. He should review the Halachic and (if possible) the Kabbalistic aspects of blowing the Shofar beforehand (see below). In addition, the Ba’al Makri (the one who points [or reads] to the Ba’al Toke’ah as to what sound to blow) should be a righteous man who is fluent in the laws and meanings of the blowing of the Shofar.
- The shofar should preferably be a ram’s horn. The horns of other kosher domestic animals are also acceptable except for those of a bull or ox.
- The shofar must be longer than a Tefach (handbreadth) so that it is visible on both sides of the ba’al toke’as hand when he is blowing it.
- A cracked shofar may be disqualified. One should not use it unless he ascertains its precise Halachic status.
- The entire congregation should listen to the brachot and the blowing of the Shofar and keep in mind that they want to fulfill the Mitzvah. One should not say Boruch Hu Uvaruch Shemo during the recitation of the brachot. The brachot of the Shofar extend to and include the Shofar-blowing during the Amidah and the repetition of the Amidah. It is therefore proper to not talk until the end of the Shofar-blowing at the conclusion of Musaf (unless it is necessary for the Davening or the Shofar-blowing).
- During the pauses in between the three sets of Shofar notes, one should think thoughts of Teshuvah. (It is not the Chabad custom to articulate any words at this time.)
Standing vs. Sitting
- The Ashkenaz custom is for the community to stand for all of the tekiot. The Sefardic custom is for the community to sit for the first 30 blasts. In fact, these blasts are called tekiot demeyushav (the sitting tekiot). According to all opinions, the community should stand while the brachot are being recited. The one blowing the Shofar must stand during the brachot and the blowing.
- The Chassidic and Sefardic custom is to blow the Shofar during the silent Amidah.
- The custom of many Ashkenazim is not to blow during the silent Amidah.
- It is customary in many communities that the one who blows the shofar during Musaf need not be the same person who blew the first 30 blasts.
- In addition, although the baal toke’a stands by the Bimah (table for the Torah reading) when blowing the first 30 blasts, he need not stand there when blowing during Musaf. Rather, he may blow from wherever he usually stands during the prayers.
- It is not customary for the baal makri to point to the sounds during the blowing of Musaf or afterwards.
- When blowing during Musaf, there are various customs as to which notes to blow. Every community should follow its custom.
- The total number of blasts should equal at least 100.
- If one is in the middle of the Amidah while the Shofar is being blown, one should stop and listen.
- One who is praying Musaf without a Minyan should not interrupt to blow the Shofar. Nor should he ask someone else to blow for him so that he can hear them during his prayers.
- After the repetition of Musaf, it is customary to blow an additional 30 Shofar blasts in order to confuse the Satan. One who came late and missed (some) of the other blasts should pay special attention at this time.
- One may not blow extra Shofar blasts on Rosh Hashana as it is similar to playing an instrument, but one need not stop a child who is blowing extra Shofar blasts.
How to Blow the Shofar
- The Shofar should be covered while the baal toke’a (shofar blower) says the brachot and whenever he’s not actually blowing the Shofar. This is to evoke the merit of the binding of Isaac who was kept hidden while Abraham built the altar.
- One should blow from the right side of his mouth (if possible). This is because one’s left side is already protected by their Tefillin. A lefty should blow from the left side of his mouth.
- The shofar blasts are kosher whether the sounds are “thick” or “thin.” All types of sound are acceptable.
Length of Each Sound
- The tekiah (long sound) should be as long as the middle sound of that set, i.e., for the first set, it should be as long as a shevarim and teruah combined (about six seconds), for the second and third set, it should be as long as a shevarim or a teruah (approximately three seconds).
- Each of the shevarim should last for approximately one second.
- The baal makri (one who points to the correct note in the siddur for the ba’al toke’ah to blow) should keep his finger pointed to the note for as long as that note should be sounded.
- One must take a breath in between each complete note.
- One should not take a breath in the middle of a note (e.g. shevarim or teruah).
- There is an argument as to whether or not one should breathe in between shevarim- teruah. The custom is to take a quick breath in between.
- In a place that does not have a specific custom, it is better to do the shevarim-teruah in the first group of tekiot (before Musaf) without a breath in between (but with a small pause) and during the tekiot during Musaf with a quick breath in between.
- If one blew the wrong note, he may have to begin from the beginning of the series he’s in the middle of (e.g. tekiah- shevarim-tekiah). The Baal Makri (the one who points to the correct note) should know the laws in this regard so he can instruct the Baal Toke’ah as to how to proceed.
If the ba’al toke’a was unable to complete the shofar blasts and someone else came up to complete them, he need not make the brachot (blessings) again, provided that he heard them when they were recited beforehand.
Blowing for Other Jews
The Lubavitcher Rebbe encouraged those who are able to blow the Shofar to seek out Jews who did not hear the Shofar on Rosh Hashana and blow for them.
- When blowing for those who were not in Shul, it is sufficient to blow the first 30 sounds that are sounded in Shul after the brachot. It is best to pause slightly between the Shevarim and Teruah but not to actually breathe in between.
- If, for whatever reason, one is unable to blow all 30 sounds, he should repeat the sequence of Tekiah Shevarim Teruah Tekiah three times. He should bear in mind that if either the Shevarim or Teruah is not necessary, it should be considered as if he is blowing them simply as music and not as a mitzvah. He should take a breath in between the Shevarim and the Teruah.
- If one is blowing for other men who do not know how to say a bracha, he may say a bracha for them even if he already heard the shofar and made the brachot.
- If a man who already heard the shofar is blowing for women, he should have one of the women say the bracha, as he may not say it for them.
- According to the Sefardic custom, women should not make this bracha. If the man blowing the Shofar for them has already performed the mitzva, he should blow it without a bracha.
- A child who knows how to blow the Shofar may blow the Shofar for other children.
- One who knows how to blow the Shofar himself may fulfill the mitzvah by hearing the blasts from someone else. The fact that he is not blowing it himself does not diminish the mitzvah since the main mitzvah is the hearing of the sounds and not the actual blowing.
Hallel is not recited on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur because these are days of judgment.
It is proper to bow down on one’s knees when reciting Aleinu during the repetition of Musaf. One should bow until one’s head touches the floor. Before beginning the repetition, the Chazan should position himself in such a way that he will be able to bow without having to uproot his feet from their place.
When bowing at this time, if the shul’s floor is stone or tile, one should place towels or the like to make a separation between himself and the floor.
In the Afternoon
- It is proper not to nap during the day of Rosh Hashana because the Jerusalem Talmud says that one who sleeps on Rosh Hashanah will have a sleepy mazal that year. One should rather occupy oneself with reciting Tehillim and studying Torah.
- Some say that one may nap after midday. It is certainly better to nap than to waste time.
- The main interpretation of the teaching that “one who sleeps on Rosh Hashanah will have a sleepy mazal that year” is that one who is sleepy and does not pray with strength, his mazal, i.e. his defending angel, will not be able to speak in his merit.
One should be careful to pray mincha (the afternoon prayer) with concentration. Elijah, the prophet, was answered when he prayed Mincha. On Rosh Hashanah this prayer is especially significant since Mincha was established by our patriarch Isaac, and on Rosh Hashanah we are trying to evoke the merit of Isaac’s being bound up in the akeidah in order to transform G-d’s judgment into mercy.
- In the afternoon (after Mincha but, preferably, before sunset), it is customary to go to a river or lake in which there are live fish and say Tashlich (pg 200 in the Machzor).
- There are several reasons for this custom:
- Water represents Divine kindness.
- The water recalls the merit of the Akeidah (binding of Isaac) before which Abraham had to wade through a deep river.
- Fish represent the ever-open eye of G-d.
- We pray that we multiply like fish and that the “nevil eye” not affect us just as it does not affect fish.
- Those unable to do Tashlich on Rosh Hashana
may do so up until Hoshana Raba. (Some have the custom of specifically doing Tashlich on the 8th day of Tishrei.)
- Although there was a custom to feed challah to the fish when doing Tashlich, the poskim (Halachic deciders) write that on Yom Tov one should not do so as one may not feed wild animals on Yom Tov. Some defend this custom.
- one’s Talit Kattan after Tashlich. This has Kabbalistic significance. In addition, this reminds us to clean our garments (thought, speech, and action) and ensure that they are clean and free of sin.
Second night of Rosh Hashana
Thursday night, September 21/2 Tishrei
Candle-lighting time is not before 7:52 p.m. The candles must be lit from a pre-existing flame.
The Blessing of She’hechiyanu
There is a doubt as to whether this blessing should be recited on the second night. In some regards, the two days of Rosh HaShana are considered one long day, while in other matters they are considered separate. For this reason, one should prepare a new fruit or new garment in order to be able to say this bracha without any question.
- One should bring a new fruit to the table before candle-lighting on the second night. This is in order for the women who light the candles to say the blessing of Shehechiyanu while having that in mind. The women should light immediately prior to Kiddush so that they will be able to eat the fruit soon after saying shehechiyanu.
- When lighting the candles, the brachot of Lehadlik Ner Shel Yom Hazikaron and Shehechiyanu are recited.
- When a man makes the Shehechiyanu blessing in Kiddush, he should also have in mind the new fruit (which should be in front of him) or a new article of clothing (that he is wearing).
- The Chabad custom is to eat a kezayit (the size of an olive, approx. 1 oz.) of the new fruit following Kiddush and make a Bracha Achrona (after-Bracha) on the fruit before washing for bread.
- If one does not have a new fruit or garment, one should still recite Shehechiyanu.
- A man who lights candles shouldn’t recite Shehechiyanu during candle-lighting but rather during Kiddush.
Second Day of Rosh Hashana
Friday, September 22/ 2 Tishrei
The order of the prayers is similar to the first day.
If possible, the baal toke’ah should wear a new garment when blowing the shofar so he can have this in mind when saying shehichiyanu. If he doesn’t have one, he should recite shehechiyanu anyway.
As mentioned above, due to the laws of Eiruv Tavshillin, all of the food that one is cooking this afternoon for Shabbat, should be prepared in such a manner that it is ready to eat before Shabbat begins.
Shabbat Teshuvah – 3 Tishrei/September 22 and 23
Candle-lighting is at 6:59 pm
In general, the festival of Shabbos was given to Israel as a time for Torah study and prayer, and one should always take care not to pass the time idly or in inappropriate conversation. This is especially true on Shabbat Shuvah during which one should be careful to concentrate entirely on Torah, prayer, and reflection on repentance, thereby attaining forgiveness for whatever unfitting behavior may have marred other Sabbaths.
The Teshuvah done on this Shabbat is more elevated than the Teshuvah done on all the other Shabbatot of the year. Thus it elevates all of them.
It is customary amongst Jewish communities around the world that the Rav of the community says a Shabbat Teshuvah Derasha (speech) on this Shabbat.
Although this speech may contain other components, the main objective is that it should inspire the community to reflect upon their deeds, better their ways and do teshuvah.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe would customarily lead a farbrengen (Chassidic gathering) which would begin on the second day of Rosh Hashana after Mincha and continue on into the night. This is in order to draw the holiness of the Yom Tov into the rest of the year. During the farbrengen, the assembled would sing the songs associated with the Ba’al Shem Tov, the Magid of Mezritch and all of the Chabad Rebbes. The Rebbe would customarly recite a ma’amar in which he quoted the Ba’al Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezritch and all of the Chabad Rebbeim.
Shabbat ends at 7:50 p.m.
Sunday, September 24 / 4 Tishrei
We fast on this day to commemorate the assassination of Gedalyah, who was the righteous governor of the Jews after the destruction of the first Temple. Although he was actually killed on the first day of Rosh Hashana, the fast was established on the third of Tishrei as it is best not to fast on Rosh Hashana. Since, this year the third of Tishrei was on Shabbat, the fast is postponed to Sunday. The fast begins at dawn (5:58 am). One who intends to wake up early and eat, must have this intention before going to sleep. Otherwise, it is forbidden to eat.
All healthy men and women are obligated to fast. Pregnant and nursing women and people who are ill are not obligated. If in doubt, one should consult a Rabbi.
Selichot and Avinu Malkeinu (Siddur pg. 454) are recited and the Torah is read.
The Chazzan adds Aneinu in the repetition of the Amidah (page 48). Three people who are fasting should be called to the Torah.
- Before the Mincha Amidah, the Torah is read. Three people who are fasting should be called to the Torah. The third person also reads the Haftorah. Sefardim do not read a Haftorah on the afternoon of a fast day.
- In the Amidah, those who are fasting say the paragraph beginning Aneinu in the Shma Koleinu blessing (Siddur pg. 108).
- One who forgot to say aneinu may add it to Elokai netzor, if one remembers it before completing the Amidah.
- If one forgot aneinu and remembered after finishing the Amidah, he need not repeat the Amidah.
- We recite Tachnun and Avinu Malkeinu.
- In Avinu Malkeinu we say “chadesh” and “katveinu” (as during the ten days of repentance) and not “bareich” and “zachreinu” (as during the other fast days).
The fast concludes at 7:38 p.m.
The Ten Days 0f Repentance
1 Tishrei to 10 Tishrei / Oct 3 to October 12
Special Insertions in Prayer
Throughout the Aseret Yemai Teshuva (Ten Days of Repentance – days between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur), various insertions are added in the Amida (standing prayer recited quietly).
These insertions are Zochreinu lachayim etc., Mi Chamocha etc., HaMelech Hakadosh , HaMelech Hamishpat , Uchtov etc., Uvesefer etc., and HaShalom instead of Shalom (at the end of the Amidah). This is added during Kadish as well (but not during the Grace after Meals).
In addition, on Friday night the Chazan should say Hamelech Hakadosh in the mini repetition of the Amidah (page 172).
In many communities, it is customary to repeat the word Le’eilah in the Kadish. The Chabad custom is to not repeat this word until the kadeishim recited during Ne’ilah during which it is repeated. Whenever the word is repeated, one should contract the words min and kol into one word – mikol. This is in order to ensure that there only be 28 words in the first half of kadish.
See footnote as to what to do in case of an error in these prayers
If a chazzan mistakenly omits the appropriate insertions during the repetition of the Amidah, the same laws that are explained below apply to him.
One who made a mistake and is in the middle of the Amidah but does not know the law, may walk and find a sefer (book) which will clarify the law. Some permit even asking a Rav (who has already completed the Amidah) in the middle of the Amidah.
During the Repetition
- During the repetition of the Amidah, the community should say the additions of Uchtov and Uvesefer out loud before the Chazzan says them.
Shir Hama’alot Mima’amakim
- During these days, we also add Shir Hama’alot Mima’amakim (Psalm 131) during shachrit after Yishtabach (page 38 in the siddur). In many communities, the Aron Kodesh (holy ark) is opened for the recital of the psalm. This is not the Chabad custom. If one is not holding with the minyan, he may skip ahead in order to say this with the minyan. If he wishes, he may also repeat it in its proper place.
- During these days, one should spend time doing Teshuva and correcting anything that needs to be corrected.
- Even a business person should minimize his business in these days and only work as needed. He should spend most of his time studying Torah.
- During these days, one should spend time learning the seforim (holy books) that inspire one to teshuvah (repentance) and/or listening to shiurim (classes) that motivate one to serve G-d better.
- It is especially important to rectify sins towards one’s fellow man during this time as Yom Kippur doesn’t atone for these sins unless one seeks forgiveness from one’s fellow.
- One who makes an honest reckoning of his behavior will realize that there are many sins that he may be transgressing regularly. He may have become so habituated to these transgressions that he no longer pays them attention. These may include:
- Praying or saying blessings without kavana (concentration).
- Hatred towards a fellow-Jew
- (Men) gazing at women
- Speaking lashon hara (slander) or devarim beteilim (empty words)
- Wasting time that should be spent studying Torah
- One should be extra careful about keeping the highest standard of Mitzvot in these days. For example, if one is not normally careful to eat Pat Yisrael (bread baked by a Jewish baker) or Chalav Yisrael (milk that is milked in the presence of a Jew), he should be particular about these matters in these days.
- Some have a custom to purchase a beautiful Etrog, Lulav and Hadassim in these days in order that this be a merit for them on the judgment day.
- It is preferable for the Yeshivot to not give vacation time between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur as this time is best spent studying Torah.
- Throughout the Aseret Yemai Teshuva we recite Avinu Malkeinu (Siddur pg. 454) in Shacharit and Mincha.
May we be blessed among all the Jewish people with a good sweet year, a year of peace and security, a year of health and success, a year of happiness and holiness, a year of shidduchim for those that need one, a year of those who need one. and, most importantly, a year of Moshiach!
Rosh Hashanah Times 5778
1st night (Sunday)
2nd night (Monday)
Fast of Gedalyah begins
Fast of Gedalyah ends
After 7:52 pm
After 7:35 pm
After 7:28 pm
After 7:13 pm
After 6:55 pm
 O.C. 581 and Mateh Efrayim, O.C. 3, Mishna Berurah, Likutei Sichot 24, 222
 Mateh Efrayim, 581, 333
 See Rama, 581:1
 This custom is brought in many sources, including the Lu’ach Colel Chabad. (Siman 581 is missing in the Shulchan Aruch HaRav.) Personally, I have not seen it commonly observed in Chabad circles.
 Mateh Efrayim, ibid, 38
 Mateh Efrayim 581, 49, Siddur of the Alter Rebbe, Chayei Adam 138, 8, Y.D. 228, 3, Teshuvot Vehanhagot vol. 1, O.C. 338,Y.D. 234, 56 and Shach 71, She’arim HaMetzuyanim BeHalacha 128, 24, Elef Hamagen 581, 101,
 See Responsa of Rabbi Akiva Eiger (quoted in Pit’chei Teshuva) that the definition of an adult for this purpose is to be 13 years old and have signs of physical maturity. (It would seem that if one is doing the annulment with at least three men who fit this description that one need not be strict in this matter regarding the other seven.)
 But see Otzar Minhagei Chabad who points out that the version of Hatarat Nedarim in the Siddur HaRav does not mention vows made in dreams.
See Likutei Sochot, vol. 4, pg. 1332 where the Lubavitcher Rebbe gives an additional reason to have a minyan at the annulment of the vows. Since, on a spiritual level, every Rosh HaShana the world is “rebuilt,” it is necessary to “repair” the world before Rosh Hashana. The world can be divided into three categories. That which is a mitzvah, that which is permissible (reshut) and that which is forbidden. Man’s job is mainly to elevate that which is permissible (reshut). The concept of vows is to bring sanctity into the permissible realm. Hatarat Nedarim (fixing vows that may be abrogated) accomplishes this as well. Since this is “repair” of the world at large, it is necessary to have a minyan, as the Shechinah, which is the life force of the entire world, will then be present.
The siddur Rabeinu HaZakein Im Tziyunim (by Dayan Raskin of London) points out that, based on this explanation, it would be sufficient to have ten men present rather than 11 (the one nullifying the vows plus 10). Indeed, in the Siddur, the Alter Rebbe simply writes, “It is good for there to be a complete minyan (eidah shleimah).”
 Mateh Efrayim, 581, 49
 Derech HaChaim on the Siddur (by Rav Yaakov MiLisa)
 See Likkutei Sichos vol. 2, page 651
 O.C. Ramah 4, Mateh Efrayim ibid 50, Mishnah Berurah, 281, 27, Ketzeh HaMateh, 281, 96
 See Shevach HaMo’adim, page 11, note 19
 See ibid, O.C. ibid 4, Mishna Berurah ibid 25, Mateh Efrayim ibid 55
 O.C. 581, 4, See O.C. 88, Mishnah Berurah, 581, 26, Mateh Efraim, ibid, 53
 I have heard in the name of Rav Ezra Binyomin Schochet, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshiva Ohr Elchanan Chabad, Los Angeles, that an operating filter does not disqualify a mikvah for men.
 Piskei Teshuvot, 88, note 42. See there that this is the consensus of most of the Poskim although some disagree.
 But see ibid, note 35 that some say the water need not reach one’s entire body.
 Mateh Efrayim. See Elef HaMagen, 606, 22 who writes that immersing three times is associated with Teshuvah. See Maharil (Minhagei Erev Yom Kippur) who writes that one should immerse three times on Erev Yom Kippur to allude to the three times the expression “Mikveh Yisrael Hashem” is used in Tanach. The Magen Avraham (606, 8) explains that this reason is following the view that the immersion is for the purpose of Teshuvah.
 Likutei Sichot 14, 369 This is based on a verse in Nechemiah (8:10) which states that on Rosh HaShana, Nechemiah said: “Go, eat fat foods and drink sweet drinks and send portions to whoever has nothing prepared, for the day is holy to our L-rd, and do not be sad, for the joy of the L-rd is your strength.”
 See Mateh Efrayim, ibid 57
 Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad, page 56, see also Likutei Sichot vol. 2, page 386
 Ketter Shem Tov, ot 119
 Sefer Hama’amarim Melukat, vol. 1, pg. 475
 Mateh Efrayim, 625, 33 and Elef LaMateh 51. See Likutei Sichot, vol. 24, page 297, note 69
 The Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchato (vol. 2, chapter 44:2 and note 4) explains that since on the second night of Yom Tov it is proper to light at night, in order to avoid confusion, some light at night on the first night of Yom Tov as well.
 But see Mishnah Berurah, 263:23 who says that women should not say Shehechiyanu when lighting candles on Yom Tov but should rather hear it during Kiddush. See Shmirat Shabbat Kehilchat, ibid:4, that some say that a woman who says Shehechiyonu when lighting candles should not respond “Amen” to the Shehechiyonu recited during Kiddush.
 Sefer HaSichot, 5704, page 5
 Likutei Sichot, 14, page 375
 See Mateh Efrayim, 598, 1
 Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad
 Ibid, in the name of the Previous Rebbe, Mateh Efrayim, ibid, 23
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav 582, Ta’amei HaMinhagim, pg. 309
 Elef HaMagen, 582, 44
 Mateh Efrayim, 582, 3, Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad
 Mateh Efrayim, ibid, 55
 See HaMelech BeMesibo, vol. 1, page 115 that, according to the Alter Rebbe, the reason for wearing a kittel is to resemble the angels. This is only relevant for Yom Kippur and not for Rosh HaShana.
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav 582, 17
 Elaef Hamagen, 40
 Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad as explained by Otzar Minhagei Chabad.
 Some say that this greeting should only be given until midday of the first day. The Taz (582, 4) says it may be said until midday of the second day. In the Siddur, the Alter Rebbe writes that this greeting is given on the first night of Rosh HaShana.
 See Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad that the Chabad custom is to use salt and not honey on Shabbat Teshuvah and Shabbat Chol HaMoed.
Many have the custom of using honey on these Shabbatot as well.
 Sefer HaSichot, ibid, page 3
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 583, See Horiyot 12a, Mishnah Berurah 583, Sefer HaMinhagim Chabad, and Kaf HaChayim, 583:5 – 25.
 The advantage to eating these after Hamotzie is that this minimizes the interruption between the Kiddush and the meal (Igrot Kodesh, vol. 3, page 210). In addition, by doing it in this order, one need not recite a separate blessing afterwards (Hitva’aduyot, 5751, vol. 4, page 323, note 66).
 It is possible that the reason for this is that the apple is considered more “preferred” at this time since we only say the Yehi Ratzon on the apple. If one has a fruit that one prefers, he may say the blessing on it rather than on one of the fruits of Israel (Seder Birkat HaNehenin, 10:8.)
 According to the Kaf HaChaim (25), the order should be as follows. 1) Dates (the bracha recited on this will cover all of the fruits), 2) a vegetable that is not considered a meal food so that the bracha of ho’adama will cover all other such vegetables, 3) beets, 4) leeks, 5) figs, 6) fenugreek, 6) pomegranate, 7) head of a lamb, 8) apple dipped in honey. See there as to the reason for this order.
 Me’iri on Horayot, ibid
 It has been pointed out (Kaf HaChaim, 11) that, in the Gemara (Horayot, ibid), these prayers are not mentioned.
 See Sha’arei Teshuvah, ibid, 1
 583, 5
 See Likutei Sichot, vol. 19, page 284
 For Yom Tov: Hu Yanichilaynu L’yom Shekulo Tov. (This one comes first as it is more common [tadir].)
And for Rosh Hashana: Horachamon Hu Yechadesh Aleinu Et Hashana Hazot Letova Velivracha.
 Mateh Efrayim, 584, 1
 Ibid, 5
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 584, Brachot 29a, Rosh Hashana 11a as explained by Rashi there D.H. Nifkedah, Mishnah Berurah 583, 8
 Rosh Hashanah, 10b as explained by Rashi there
 O.C., 585 – 592
 Mateh Efrayim, 585, 1
 See Sha’arei Teshuva 584, 3, Mateh Efrayim, 588, 2, See Ketzeh HaMateh, 588, and Piskei Teshuvot 585, 4
 Mateh Efrayim, 597, 2
 O.C. 585, 3, Mateh Efrayim 585, 2
 See Sefer HaMinhagim that the Rebbe Rashab would instruct the Baal Toke’ah to study the maamar (Chassidic discourse) of Lehavin Inyan Tekiat Shofar, printed on page 488 of the Siddur Im Dach. The Siddur of Rav Yakov Emden and the Shelah also contain kavanot for the blowing of the shofar
 O.C. Siman 586
 Mishnah Berurah, 592, 1
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 596, 2
 Ibid, 585, 589, and 590, Kaf HaChaim 585, 14, Mateh Efraim, 585, 3 and Elef HaMagen 7
 Mateh Efrayim, 581, 4
 See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 590, 2 and 9
 Mateh Efrayim, 581, 10
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 583, 8
 Ibid, 8
 Quoted in Darkei Moshe, 583, 2
 Mateh Efrayim, 598, 1
 Ibid, 2
 Ibid, 584, 7
 See Minhag Yisrael Torah, vol. 3, page 92
 Mathe Efrayim, 598, 4 and Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad, page 57
 Ibid, 600
 The Book of Our Heritage, Mateh Efrayim, 602, 41
 Sefer HaMamarim Melukat, 1, page 345
 O.C. 550
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 582 , Elef HaMagen 13, on Mateh Efrayim, 582, Mateh Efrayim, 584, 9, Elef LaMateh, 2 on ibid
 Some also change the end of the final blessing of the Amidah from “hamevarech et amo yisrael bashalom” to “Oseh HaShalom.” (Mateh Efrayim, 581, 1)
 Mateh Efrayim, 581, 1
 Ha-kel Hakadosh
*If one mistakenly said Ha-kel Hakadosh instead of Hamelech Hakadosh:
- If one realized immediately (within 2 seconds), then the person can immediately correct it by saying Hamelech Hakadosh.
- If one did not realize the mistake right away, or already began the following Bracha, he must repeat the Amidah from the beginning. This also applies if one realized the mistake after completing the Amidah.
- If one is unsure as to whether or not he said HaMelech HaKadosh or not, he must repeat the Amidah.
Uvchen ten pachdecha
* If one forgot to add the insertion Uvchen ten pachdecha etc. on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, if they at least finished the bracha with the words HaMelech Hakadosh, they need not to repeat the Amidah.
* If one forgot and said Melech Ohev Tzedaka Umishpat instead of HaMelech HaMishpat; if one realized immediately (within 2 seconds), one can immediately correct it by saying HaMelech HaMishpat.
* If one did not realize the mistake right away, or already began the following Bracha one should first complete the Amidah. It is considered praiseworthy (although not mandatory) to then repeat the Amidah. (One should have in mind that this is not an obligatory prayer but rather a “volunteer” prayer.)
* If one omitted any of the other insertions, he need not repeat the Amidah. However, if one realized his omission before saying the name of G-d at the end of that bracha, he should add that insertion and continue from where he previously had reached.
 Mateh Efrayim, 582, 8
 Many have the custom that the community also recites Zochreinu and Mi Chamocha out loud.
This is not the Chabad custom. This is because the later insertions are prayers for a “good life” and the earlier insertions only mention “life.” Since we already asked for a greater blessing in the silent Amidah (the “good life” mentioned in the uchtov and uvesefer), we don’t go back and ask for a lesser blessing (the “life” mentioned in vezochreinu and mi chamocha) during the repetition (Sefer HaMinhagim, Chabad).
 Shulchan Aruch HaRav, 603, See Chayei Adam, Klal 143
 Mateh Efrayim, 602, 21
 Ibid, 603, 5
 Ibid, 6
Wishing you and the Jewish people everywhere, a Good Yom Tov, a Good Shabbos and a good sweet year with only revealed good!