Rosh Hashana Halachic Digest
An Overview Of The Laws of Rosh Hashana
The Month of Elul
1) The days of Elul, through Yom Kippur are days of compassion and good will, and an opportune time for Teshuva. The King is in the field, allowing all to approach Him, and be greeted by His smiling face.
2) We account for our deeds the past year, strengthening our good qualities and fixing our deficiencies.
3) It is customary to check Tefillin and Mezuzos in Elul, and to increase in Torah, Tefillah, and Tzedaka.
4) We blow the Shofar every day after שחרית, except Shabbos and ערב ראש השנה.
5)We increase Tehillim - 3 Kapitlach daily, minhag of the Baal Shem Tov (completing on Yom Kippur).
7) We wish each other (verbally and in writing a כתיבה וחתימה טובה לשנה טובה ומתוקה.
Motzei Shabbos Slichos –פרשת כי תבא
1) Ashkenazim begin saying Slichos at least 4 days before Rosh Hashanah, like a קרבן that needs to be examined 4 days before being offered on the Mizbeach. Rosh Hashana we are like a קרבן .
2) The prevailing custom is to start early Sunday morning when still night, since some of the Slichos mention the night e.g. בזעקתם בעוד ליל" "רצה עתירתם בעמדם בלילות"
3) When Rosh Hashana is Monday or Tuesday, we begin a week before, always on a Sunday.
4) In some communities Slichos are said every day after midnight,
5) Slichos should preferably not to be said before midnight 1255am though some rely on opinions that Slichos can be recited at the beginning of the second third of the night ie 2 hours before midnight, as this is also an עת רצון.
6) If Slichos are recited on מוצאי שבת before חצות, some say to omit אשמנו. ,
7) A. If Slichos are recited before midnight, we don't fall during tachnun.
B. If Slichos are recited after midnight, but before daybreak, some fall if it's close to daylight, while others wait to do נפילת אפים until daylight.
C. Some don’t fall for Tachnun at all during slichos.
8) One who slept and begins slichos after midnight, should recite ברכת התורה beforehand.
9) The chazan wears a Tallis, but if it is not yet עלות השחר he doesn’t make a brocho. If he continues until after it gets light, he should touch his Tzitzis and make the brocho then. Before עלות השחר it's best that he borrows a Tallis, to avoid the shaila of a brocho. If he has no Tallis, Slichos, including י"ג מדות, are still said.
10) The first kaddish can only be said if these was a minyan for אשרי. Otherwise, kaddish is skipped.
11) If the Minyan left early, the final קדיש can still be said as long as there remained six.
12)It is proper to stand for Slichos. If you’re weak, at least try stand for אשמנו, י"ג מדות, שמע קולנו.
13) It is is best to say Slichos with a minyan. If there is no minyan, some omit י"ג מדות. Others sing it in the tune of laining. The Aramaic paragraphs מחי ומסי and מרן דבשמיא, are only said with a minyan.
Shabbos Mevorchim – נצבים
1) We do not bentch the Chodesh.
2) On this Shabbos Hashem Himself bentches the seventh month, satiated with goodness for the entire year. With this ko'ach, Yidden bentch chodesh the next 11 months - The Baal Shem Tov.
3) We read the Haftorah שוש אשיש .
4) We say אב הרחמים before Mussaf.
5) By Mincha we say צדקתך צדק.
6) After Mincha we say the last two chapters of פרקי אבות .
7) We omit " ויהי נועם – ואתה קדוש " on Motzei Shabbos since there is a Yom Tov during the week.
Sunday- Erev Rosh Hashanah
1) One should daven early on Erev Rosh Hashana as Slichos are long and Hataras Nedarim takes time
2) Except during Slichos, Tachanun is not said
3) The Shofar is not blown to (a) differentiate between the Tekios of Elul which are a minhag and the Tekios of Rosh Hashana which are d’Oraisa. (b) to confuse the Satan as to when is Rosh Hashana. We do not blow shofar even at home. If the Baal Toke’ah must practice, he can blow in a closed room.
4) Additional Tzedaka is given specifically to assist those in need with the necessities of Yom Tov.
5) There is a minhag to visit kivrei tzaddikim.
6) Some fast on Erev Rosh Hashana till Chatzos or a little later.
7) We don’t cook with sour food for Rosh Hashana (e.g. vinegar, lemon juice). Some refrain through Simchas Torah. Refrain from bitter food too (e.g. horseradish). Sharp foods (e.g. pepper) are ok. Note: A little lemon or vinegar in the food is fine, as long as the food does not turn out bitter or sour..
8) Make a point to have sweet and fatty foods as a siman of goodness.
9) Refrain from nuts since (a) the phlegm makes davening difficult and (b) אגוז gimatria חטא .
10) Take haircuts and toivel in the mikveh lekovod Yom Tov.
11) Rosh Hashana is a proper time to accept new resolutions in shmiras Torah and Mitzvahs.
12) Don Yom Tov clothing, confident that G‑d will find us worthy on Yom Hadin.
1) We do Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashana, (in addition to כל נדרי on Yom Kippur) since (a) זריזין מקדימין למצוות and (b) so that we be free on Rosh Hashana of the transgression of unfulfilled נדרים. If you missed erev Rosh hashana, do so during Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, before Yom Kippur.
2) It is best performed before ten men over Bar Mitzvah. (To annul a נדר that one might have made in a dream, or a נידוי one received in a dream, you need ten). Otherwise a Beis Din of three is sufficient.
3) One may use a Beis Din comprised of his relatives for Hataras Nedarim.
4) It is best if said before midday.
5) Each individual should lechatchila do hataras nedarim himself in front of Beis din, not in a group,.
6) Hataras nedarim should be said in a language you understand if you don’t understand the original.
7) If you want to annul a specific vow or action, you must specify it to one of the דיינים. Consult a Rov
8) A woman can fulfil her obligation of התרת נדרים by saying כל נדרי on Yom Kippur or her husband does hataras nedarim on her behalf.
The First Evening of Rosh Hashana:
1) Before lighting candles, extra Tzedaka is given, for two days of Yom Tov.
2) Candles should best be lit before sunset (ie 18 minutes before) like on an Erev Shabbos. If, you did not light then, they should be lit before the Seudah at night from a preexisting flame.
3) Two brachos are said when lighting candles: 1. להדליק נר 2. שהחיינו. Some say להדליק נר של יום הזכרון.
4) If a man lights because a woman is not present, he does not bentch שהחיינו now, but rather by Kiddush. If he forgot and bentched now שהחיינו, he does not repeat it by Kiddush.
5) If you’re eating elsewhere, remember to light candles in your own home or to arrive at your host preferably before Yom Tov begins, and light candles there.
(The best option when sleeping at home and eating elsewhere is to light candles that will last until you return home from the Seudah, and eat something next to the candles then).
6) The avodah of Rosh Hashana is קבלת עול, accepting the yoke of שמים. Even a Talmid Chacham should say Tehillim every free moment, sleep minimally and avoid idle chat; like a servant who can’t spare a moment from serving his Master or a child who won’t rest in the excitement of greeting his Father.
7) Every spare moment of both days of Yom Tov should be used for saying Tehillim.
1) An avel ר”ל may be the baal tefillah if he usually is (or if he’s most desirable by the congregation)
2) In Shmone Esrei of Aseres Yemei Teshuvah (starting with the first night of Rosh hashana) we add: זכרנו לחיים, מי כמוך, המלך הקדוש, וכתוב, ובספר חיים, עושה השלום.
3) If one forgot זכרנו, מי כמוך, וכתוב, ובספר but remembered before saying “ה'” (of ברוך אתה ה' that concludes that Bracha) say it then. If one remembers after saying Hashem’s name, do not go back.
4) If one said הא-ל הקדוש and immediately remembered - correct and say המלך הקדוש
5) If one said הא-ל הקדוש and remembered after תוך כדי דיבור or already began to say אתה בחרתנו, return to the beginning of Shmone Esrei.
6) If one said "הא-ל" and did not yet say "הקדוש" one can correct oneself even after תוך כדי דיבור.
7) If one said "...וקדושים בכל יום יהללוך סלה ברוך אתה ה' המלך הקדוש" and forgot to say "לדור ודור המליכו וכו' ובכן תן פחדך" one does not need to go back, and continues davening. (If one is unsure, he can continue davening).
8) If unsure if you said המלך הקדוש on Rosh Hashanah do not repeat shmoneh esrei as long as you know you said ובכן תן פחדך וכו’. Since the nusach is unique, we assume you wouldn’t have said הא-ל הקדוש.
9) Saying "לדוד מזמור" with כוונה is the vessel to draw down gashmiyus for the year.
10) On the first night we wish a man "לשנה טובה תכתב ותחתם"and a woman "לשנה טובה תכתבי ותחתמי", because the primary judgment is the first night until Tekios on the first day
11) It is a mitzvah to eat and drink but one should avoid frivolity and maintain a proper Yiras Hashem.
12) The simanim (aside from Challah in honey), are eaten tonight only. Some eat them on both nights.
13) We eat a pomegranate as one of the simanim on the first night. If it is a seasonal fruit and not available year round, bentch "שהחיינו". If the pomegranate is in front of you during Kiddush, one "שהחיינו" is sufficient. If not, then make a special "שהחיינו" on it
14) The Challah is dipped in honey.
15) Afterwards, an apple is cut and dipped in honey. Bentch בורא פרי העץ, have in mind that this bracha will include any fruits you may eat later and for dessert. Then recite the "יהי רצון וכו'".
16) After this, the pomegranate is eaten. During the meal carrots are eaten as well.
17) We eat the head of a ram, or more commonly, the head of a fish.
18) In Birchas Hamazon we add “יעלה ויבוא” “הרחמן” of Yomtov and of Rosh Hashana.
19) If one forgot to say יעלה ויבא and remembered after saying Hashem’s Name in בונה ירושלים:
If one has not begun the bracha of הטוב והמטיב, then say "ברוך... שנתן...".
If one already said "ברוך" of הטוב והמטיב, then return to the beginning of bentching.
The First Day of Rosh Hashana:
1) Whoever has כוונה whilst reciting Adon Olam, is guaranteed that his Tefillah is heard, the Satan cannot affect adversely his Tefillos on Rosh Hashana & Yom Kippur, and his enemies fall before him
2) One should learn the meaning of the Tefilos of Rosh Hashana, particularly the Piyutim, so that he understands what he is saying. Using an English Machzor is recommended.
3) One who is davening by himself, should not blow Shofar nor daven Musaf during the first three hours of the day (i.e. until the end of the time of krias Shema), (unless he won't be able to do it later).
1) All males over Bar Mitzvah must hear Shofar from a male adult over bar Mitzvah.
2) Women aren’t obligated in Shofar, but some say they accepted upon themselves to hear Shofar.
3) Males in good health should not eat before hearing Shofar i.e. till after davening. Some are lenient with drinking, but it is best not to drink either. Women may eat before Tekios
4) One who is weak and needs to eat should not eat המוציא or מזונות (nor alcoholic beverages) more than the a כביצה. If he needs more, it is best to arrange that he hears Tekios (30 sounds) first and then eat.
5) The בעל תוקע must have in mind to be מוציא the listeners, and they must have in mind to be יוצא.
6) If the בעל תוקע had in mind to be מוציא whoever hears him, then even a listener in another house or outside, of whom the בעל תוקע is unaware, is nevertheless יוצא, (if the listener had in mind to be יוצא)
7) One must hear every Shofar sound from beginning to end (without interruption or distractions) even if the sound is long. Therefore one should not clear one’s throat etc during the sound of a Shofar.
8) לכתחילה you blow Shofar standing, without leaning on anything such that if it were moved, you’d fall.
9) לכתחילה blow on the right of your mouth and face the wide end of the Shofar up, not sideways. If it's too difficult, then at least the wide side of the Shofar should be facing right
10) Before blowing the Shofar, two Brachos are recited. 1. שהחיינו 2. לשמוע קול שופר. On the second day, the בעל תוקע should לכתחילה wear a new garment for שהחיינו, although שהחיינו is recited regardless.
11) You must hear minimum 3 times Tekiah Shevarim Teruah Tekiah, 3 times Tekiah Shevarim Tekiah, and 3 times Tekiah Teruah Tekiah, for a total of 30 sounds. (In Shul, a total of (at least) 100 sounds are blown, including the sounds before, during, and after Musaf)
12) The Baal Toke’ah should know the halachos of Tekios, and their inner significance and kavanos.
13) If there is a bris in Shul it is done before blowing Shofar.
14) When the Baal Toke’ah makes the brochos for Shofar, everyone should have in mind to be יוצא. Do not answer ברוך הוא וברוך שמו.
If one arrived in shul in the middle of the brochos, say the brochos quietly himself as long as there is enough time to finish the brochos before the Shofar blowing begins.
Otherwise, listen to Tekios, be yotzah, and then make the brochos before Tekios of mussaf.
A woman who plans to leave before the next set of Tekios should not make a bracha even if she missed the bracha from the chazan.
15) One should not make any הפסק of talking at all from tekios till the end of mussaf.
If one spoke inadvertently even words unrelated to Tekios, you do not repeat the brochos.
If one spoke after the brochos, before the shofar was blown, you say over the brochos .
16) One who is aided by an electronic hearing aid, should try hear the Shofar without it.
17) Al pi kabbalah, one should look at the face of the Baal Toke'ah after tekios.
1) If a Shofar has a crack, a Rabbi well-versed in these Halachos should be consulted.
2) A Shofar should best be a ram’s horn, in order to invoke the merit of עקידת יצחק, although the horns of other kosher animals (e.g. sheep and goat) may also be used.
How To Blow Shofar
1) A Tekiah is a long plain note. In each set, the length of the Tekiah is based on the size of the middle of that set, (e.g. in Tekiah Shevarim Teruah Tekiah, the Tekiah is as long as the Shevarim Teruah).
2) In the set of Tekiah Shevarim Teruah Tekiah, the Tekiah should לכתחילה be the length of at least 18 very small Shofar blasts (“Teruos”) combined, According to some, it should be a little longer. (Some say that according to those who blow the Shevarim and Teruah in 2 separate breaths, לכתחילה the Tekiah should be at least the length of 24 short Shofar blasts combined, to account for the breath in between). This applies to every Tekiah in this set, both the first and last.
3) In the sets of Tekiah Shevarim Tekiah and Tekiah Teruah Tekiah, the length of the Tekiah should לכתחילה be the length of at least 9 small Shofar blasts (“Teruos”) combined. According to some poskim, in the set of Tekiah Shevarim Tekiah it should be a little longer (because this is the length of the Shevarim). The above applies to every Tekiah in the set, both the first and last.
(Some say that in the sets of Tekiah Shevarim Tekiah and Tekiah Teruah Tekiah, לכתחילה it's best that it should be at least the length of 18 short Shofar blasts combined)
4) The Shevarim are 3 consecutive “broken” Shofar sounds, longer than a Teruah, shorter than a Tekiah. In the set of Tekiah Shevarim Teruah Tekiah, each one of the 3 Shevarim blasts (independently) should לכתחילה be the length of at least 3 small Shofar blasts combined (or a little longer), and should be no longer than the amount of eight short Shofar blasts combined.5)In the set of Tekiah Shevarim Tekiah, each one of the 3 Shevarim blasts (independently) should לכתחילה be the length of at least 3 very small Shofar blasts combined (or a little longer), and according to some, לכתחילה it should be no longer than the amount of 5 short blasts combined.
5) The Teruah is a minimal, short Shofar sound (“Tu”). לכתחילה one should blow at least 9 consecutive Teruos, both in the set of Tekiah Shevarim Teruah Tekiah, and Tekiah Teruah Tekiah.
6) The above mentioned for the Shofar sounds is לכתחילה but בדיעבד even if someone blew a shorter Tekiah, the Shevarim longer or a bit shorter, or less than 9 Teruos, it may be okay. A Rov should be consulted. There are also various Halachos regarding someone who made a mistake during Tekios.
7) It is very important to practice blowing Shofar so that one blows correctly.
8) Some are careful that each Tekiah be the same sound throughout, e.g. the sound of the Shofar should not change from a high pitch to a low pitch during that sound (as commonly happens). Most are not careful about this (as long as there is no actual interruption in the sound)
9) In some communities, the Shvarim sound is merely a plain brief Tekiah sound. In other communities, the Shevarim sounds are blown in a certain “intonation” or “rhythmic pattern”. One should learn this from a qualified בעל תוקע, to make sure he is blowing properly.
10) Although there is a minimal length for the Tekiah, there is no maximum, and it may be very long. Similarly, Teruah, can be extended. But the custom is not to blow more than three Shevarim.
11) Each individual Shofar sound (i.e. the Tekiah, all the three Shevarim, and all the Teruos) must be in one breath with no interruption or breathing. Otherwise it is not valid, and one may have to blow over that “set” (e.g one set of Tekiah Shevarim Teruah Tekiah). Therefore if one is blowing a very long Tekiah, or many Teruos, he has to be careful to do them all in one breath.
12) Conversely, one should not blow two separate Shofar sounds (e.g. Tekiah and Shevarim) together in one breath, even if he is pausing in between them so that they are recognizably separate. One should therefore make sure to actively take a breath between each separate sound.
13) One opinion says you should pause and breathe between Shevarim and Teruah. Another opinion is you pause so that they are recognizably separate but do not breathe. Some reconcile the two and blow the Shevarim Teruah in the Tekios before Musaf in one breath, and during Musaf in 2 breaths.
1) On a marble or stone floor, there should be a separation eg paper towels so as not to bow down directly onto the floor. On a wood or laminated floor or carpet, bowing directly on the floor is fine.
2) According to many opinions, if davening Musaf without a Minyan for whatever reason, do not blow Shofar during Shmone Esre as the Minyan does (in Nusach Sefard). Preferably hear the 30 obligatory sounds BEFORE Musaf. Since the minhag is to hear a total of 100 Shofar sounds, blow extra afterwards to make up those sounds for a total of 100.
3) The Chazan stands away from the Amud to have space to bow down without moving his feet.
4) Minhag Yisrael is to ensure children participate in some part of davening and tekios according to their age and abilities (if they will not disturb others).
5) If possible, arrangements should be made to bring children to shul for Birchas Cohanim.
1) If you already heard Shofar and are blowing for women or others who have not heard yet, have the listener say the brochos. If they don't know how to, for a man you make the berachos for them; for a woman who wants to hear Shofar, blow without berachos.
2) Children may blow shofar after davening, but adults can only blow for a mitzvah for someone who has not yet heard.
3) If one forgot Yaaleh veyavo in bentching by day, the din is the same as by night (above) - with one difference: If you already began the bracha of הטוב והמטיב, and therefore missed יעלה ויבוא, whereas by night you start bentching again, by day you finish bentching and skip יעלה ויבוא. (Because some maintain that one should fast on Rosh Hashana day. According to them, there is no meal and no bentching on Rosh Hashana. Though we don’t pasken this, we nonetheless don’t go back)
4) We do not take a nap Rosh Hashana by day. Wasting time is like sleeping. Time should be used constructively. Some permit sleeping after chatzos.
5) Nothing may be prepared by a Yid from the first day to the second day.
6) Tashlich is after Mincha today. if you missed it, you may do it during Aseres Yemei Teshuva
The Second Night of Rosh Hashanah:
1) Only after nightfall, tzeis (preferably after lighting candles), may preparations for the meal begin.
2) Candles should be lit after dark, and close to the time of the meal, and fire taken from a pre-existing flame. Two brochos are said 1. להדליק נר 2. שהחיינו
3) During שהחיינו, have in mind and in sight the new fruit (i.e. a seasonal fruit that is not readily available year round), (or she could wear new clothing and have that in mind). But if you have nothing new, you still say שהחיינו.
4) Those who are not eating at home should not forget to light candles.
5) The new fruit should be seen during Kiddush, so you have it in mind when saying שהחיינו. If the fruit is not present, new clothing is also good. But either way, the bracha is still said.
6) Immediately after Kiddush the new fruit is eaten (and שהחיינו is not said again). If one ate a כזית (as is the custom) a bracha achrona is said (on the fruit, but not on the wine.) Then we go wash for bread.
1) We make havdala as a regular Motzei Yom Tov, without בשמים ונר.
Tzom GedaLIA צום גדליה
1) The fast begins from עלות השחר.
2) If you want to wake up and eat or drink before the fast, a Tnai needs should lechatchila be stipulated before going to bed.
3) If starting to eat within a half hour before עלות השחר, do not eat המוציא or מזונות or alcoholic beverages more than the size of a כביצה, (this applies every day, not just a fast day)
4) Those who have difficulty fasting should ask a shalah by a Rav.
5) No brushing teeth / mouthwash unless one is sensitive, but then be careful not to swallow.
6) No candy or nosh even for children who are not fasting.
7) In Shachris we say special Slichos. We read ויחל by שחרית and מנחה.
8) In Mincha, those who are fasting add עננו in שמע קולנו. (If one forgot and remembered after saying Hashem’s Name in the bracha of שומע תפלה, say it after אלקי נצור before the second יהיו לרצון).
9) The minhag is to give צדקה by מנחה on a fast day, preferably the value of the meals you didn’t eat.
Aseres Yemei Teshuva:
1) Aseres Yemei Teshuva are seven consecutive days, including each of the days of the week. These days should be used for rectifying and completing the avodah that was done in the past year, and as a preparation for the avodah that will be done in the coming New Year. Sunday corresponds to all the Sundays of the year, etc., and Shabbos Shuva corresponds to all the Shabbasos of the year.
2) During these days we should increase in Torah, Mitzvos and Tzedaka, and to minimize as much as possible mundane affairs. We also are strict with חומרות we may not do year round. One who eats Pas Akum during the year, should be careful during these days to only eat Pas Yisroel.
3) We examine our actions and do Teshuva - more so for averos we’re unsure we transgressed than if we know for sure, because those we regret with a complete heart. Particularly one should make sure to fix issues with one’s fellow man, by making amends and asking forgiveness.
4) Shacharis: After ישתבח we add "שיר המעלות".
5) In Shemone Esrei:
-Add: לחיים זכרנו; מי כמוך; המלך הקדוש; המלך המשפט; וכתוב; ובספר חיים; and עושה השלום
-If one forgot "זכרנו" or "מי כמוך" or "וכתוב" or "ובספר" and remembers in middle of the bracha in which it is said, say it then. However, if Hashem’s Name (of ברוך אתה ה') was said, do not go back.
-If one said הא-ל הקדוש and immediately remembered-correctly say המלך הקדוש
-If one said הא-ל הקדוש and remembered a little bit later (after תוך כדי דיבור), or already began to say אתה חונן, he returns to the beginning of Shemone Esrei.
-If one said "הא-ל" and did not yet say "הקדוש" one can correct himself.
-If one is unsure if he said המלך הקדוש he should return to the beginning.
-If one said "מלך אוהב צדקה ומשפט" and immediately remembered-correctly say המלך המשפט
-If one said "מלך אוהב צדקה ומשפט" and remembered a little later (after תוך כדי דיבור), or forgot totally, he finishes davening. However, it is best if he repeats Shemone Esrei as a תפלת נדבה
-The full Avinu Malkeinu is said each day of Aseres Yemei Teshuvah during Shacharis and Mincha (except for Mincha of Erev Shabbos, Shabbos, and Erev Yom Kippur.)
6) In Avinu Malkeinu we say "כתבנו" as in all of the Aseres Yemei Teshuva.
7) Some have the minhag to continue saying Slichos during Aseres Yemei Teshuva.
1) In Magen Avos on Friday night we say המלך הקדוש instead of הא-ל הקדוש.
2) There are those who light "א תשובה ליכט" candle to burn all day Shabbos Shuva.
3) We omit "ויהי נועם – ואתה קדוש" on Motzei Shabbos since there is Yom Kippur during the week.
4) We wait until after Yom Kippur to make Kiddush Levana as that is an auspicious time.
כתיבה וחתימה טובה לשנה טובה ומתוקה!
Compiled by Rabbi Yoseph Vigler & Rabbi Mendel Zirkind,
Edited by Rabbi Sholom Zirkind. Original editing by Rabbi Y. Zirkind ע"ה
לעילוי נשמת הרב יצחק בן הרב אליעזר צבי זאב צירקינד ז”ל