Erev Rosh Hashanah: The Zohar emphasizes the importance of providing the poor with holiday meals—a tzedakah which is especially important on Erev Rosh Hashanah, for it is written in Nechemiah (8:10): He said to them, “Go eat rich foods and drink sweet beverages, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, for today is sacred to our Lord.” Rashi comments that Nechemiah is referring to the poor who have no food on Rosh Hashanah. We should give generously on Erev Rosh Hashanah, for we want to have the great merit of tzedakah to the poor on the Day of Judgment. It is preferable to give even before Erev Rosh Hashanah so that the poor have time to buy what they need and prepare for the holiday.
The Evening Meal:
At the evening meal we use cooked vegetables as signs for the coming year. The poskim disagree whether, when eating them during the meal, we should say a separate blessing over them. To avoid any doubt, the blessing can be recited over something like a banana that requires the blessing according to all opinions. Some eat the vegetables after kiddush before the meal. Then, of course, the blessing is clearly required.
When Rosh Hashanah falls out on Shabbos,
we do not blow the shofar. It is muktzeh. It may not be moved and certainly not blown for practice. The Rama writes that it is nevertheless permitted to move it for its own sake and for the sake of its place. When Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos it is forbidden to use the shofar for any other purpose because it has been set aside to do a mitzvah. On any other Shabbos this restriction does not apply. Nevertheless, later poskim have written that since the shofar is no longer used in other ways, it should be considered mukseh because of a monetary loss. Accordingly, it is forbidden to move the shofar even for itself or its place.
When the evening of the second day falls out on Motzei Shabbos
, we should avoid using wicks that went out on the first day of Rosh Hashanah because they went out on Shabbos and going out prepared them to be lit more readily. If the same wicks had been lit, extinguished and relit on Erev Shabbos, then they were prepared for lighting before the Shabbos so this restriction does not apply. Otherwise, new wicks should be used or the same wicks can be turned upside down and ignited so that the flame does not catch where the wick was burned before. But be careful not to squeeze the oil out of the wicks!
Blowing the Shofar:
In my opinion, a person who arrives to synagogue after the blowing of the shofar has begun and did not hear the blessings that were recited, may make the blessing in the interval between the first and second series, for example between tekiyah shevarim teruah tekiyah and tekiyah shevarim tekiyah.
A person who incurs an obligation to say the blessing asher yatzar during the repetition of the Amidah by the shaliach tzibor may do so. It is not considered a hefsek.
If a person, for whatever reason, prays by himself
on Rosh Hashanah, he need hear only the thirty blasts of the shofar that are made before Musaf. He should not blow the shofar while saying Musaf. It is preferable for him to hear the thirty blasts before Musaf so that the Satan will be confused and will not raise accusations against him while he is praying. If there is no one who can blow the shofar for him before he says Musaf, he should keep in mind his intention to hear the shofar blasts later. According to the halachah, there is no need to hear more than the thirty shofar blasts that are made before Musaf. Nevertheless, some people make a point of hearing all one hundred shofar blasts, even if they are not in the order of the blessings.
It is forbidden to blow the shofar after the blowing of the shofar has been completed. Nevertheless, a person who has yet to blow the shofar may practice. It is forbidden to move the shofar unnecessarily.
Smoking on Rosh Hashanah:
Since smoking and secondary smoke are now considered hazardous to health, smoking can no longer be considered suitable to all and, therefore, no longer be permitted on holidays. Even when smoking was still considered suitable to all and allowed, the poskim wrote that a baal nefesh should avoid smoking for the two days of the holiday.
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