Shulchan Aruch – The Halachot of Rosh Hashanah


Note: The RAMA is in brackets [ ]


Chapter 583: Customary Foods to Eat The Night of Rosh Hashanah:


1.  One should be accustomed to eat on Rosh Hashanah: 

-         Fenugreek [1] (רוביא) which is a curly green plant called “סילקא תמרי”.  When you eat fenugreek, you should say “may it be your will that our merits are multiplied” (יה׳ר שׁירבו זכיותינו). 

-         Leeks (כרתי).  You should say, “... may our enemies be cut off” (יכרתו שׂונאינו). [2]

-         Beets (סילקא); and say “... may our enemies be smitten” (יסתלקו אויבינו).

-         Dates (תמרי); and say “... may our enemies be orphaned/bereaved” (יתמו שׂונאינו).

-         Pumpkin (קרא); and say “... tear up our (bad) decree and may our merits be brought before you” (יקרע גזר דיננו ויקראו לפנין זכיותינו).

[There is the custom to eat apples in honey and to say “... may you bring upon us a sweet new year” (“תחדשׁ עלינו שׁנה מתוקה...”) and such is our custom.  Some eat pomegranates and say “may our merits multiply like a pomegranate”[3].  It is customary to eat meat, oil/fat, and anything sweet.]


2.  We eat the head of a lamb[4] and say “may we be made into the head and not the tail” (“נהיה לראשׁ ולא לזנב”) and “remember the ram of Isaac” (“זכור לאילו שׁל יצחק”). [Some are careful not to eat nuts since nuts have the numerical value of sin.  Also, they cause a lot of gas, interrupting prayer.  We go by a river to say the verse “ותשׁליך במצולות ים כל חטאתינו...” (“and throw in the depths of the sea all of our sins...” Micah 7:19)[5].   It is also our custom not to sleep during the day on Rosh Hashanah and this is a good custom[6].]



Chapter 584:  The Torah Reading Arrangement on Rosh Hashanah:


1.  We do not say Hallel on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  [It is customary to say אבינו מלכנו (“our father, our king ...”) in the prayer.  But on the Shabbat, we don’t say it.  We lengthen the prayers until mid day (חצות).]


2.  We bring out two Torah Scrolls.  You read the first one from “Hashem remembered Sara ...” until “And after these things transpired ... (Genesis 21:1-34)”(וה׳ פקד את שׂרה עד ויהי אחר הדברים האלה). On Shabbat, you read 7 aliyot.  Maftir is (always) read in the second sefer Torah “ובחודשׁ השׁביעי(“And in the seventh month” Numbers 29:1-6) in the Parsha of Pinchas.  You conclude by reading “And there was one man from Ramatim” until “and the horn of his kingship will rise” (ויהו אישׁ אחד מן הרמתים עד וירם קרן משׁיחו) Samuel I 1-2:10.  [Some have the custom that the one who blows the shofer is one of the 5 Aliyot.]


3.  We don’t bring Torah Scrolls to people trapped in prison, even on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. 


4.  A circumcision is given between the reading of the Torah and the blowing of the shofer.


Translated by Jay Dinovitser 6/06


[1]Trigonella foenum-graecum. A Mediterranean plant whose leaves are used as an herb and whose seeds are used as a spice. For more information:

The reason why we say this blessing on fenugreek is that the hebrew name sounds like the hebrew word for multiplying: רוביא and יה׳ר שׁירבו זכיותינו.  Hence, you are using sybolism.  The Mishna Brura writes that you can use any other food prevelant in your country that sounds like multiplying in your language. 

[2] Again, we are using symbolism since the hebrew word for “cut off” sounds like the hebrew word for a leek.  Everything we eat on Rosh Hashanna follows these examples. 

[3] Pomegranates have lots of seeds and therefore are a symbol of abundance or multiplying.

[4] M.B. writes that if you don’t have the head of a lamb you may use the head of a bird or different animal. 

[5] M.B. writes that it is better to go to a place with live fish to symbolize that we should multiply like fish.


You can also go to the river after Rosh Hashanah on the ten days of repentance but M.B. seems to imply that it is better to go on Rosh Hashanah.    

[6] M.B. says this is from the Yerushalmi Talmud which writes that what you do on the first day can symbolize what will happen later on.  In other words, you will have a sleepy year.