Laws of Rosh Hashanah
- 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
- 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 himselfon 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
- 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.