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Rosh Hashanah Eve Meal

Rosh Hashanah Eve Meal

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Kiddush

Before starting the Rosh Hashanah meal, we sanctify the holiday by reciting the kiddush over a cup of wine or grape juice. Click here for the Hebrew text of the kiddush.1

New Fruit

On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, a "new fruit," i.e., a seasonal fruit which we have not yet tasted since its season began, should be present on the table when the holiday candles are kindled and during the kiddush. While reciting the Shehecheyanu blessing after candle-lighting and after the kiddush, one should have the new fruit in mind.2

This fruit is eaten following the kiddush, before washing for bread. Before partaking of the fruit we say the following blessing:

Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam bo-re pri ha-etz.

ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

Challah in Honey

Immediately following the kiddush (and on the second night, the eating of the new fruit), we perform the ritual washing for bread, after which we say the following blessing:

Ba-ruch a-tah Ad-onay, E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, a-sher ki-desh-an-u be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tziv-anu al ne-til-at ya-da-yim.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְווֹתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת יָדָיִם

Blessed are you, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the washing of the hands.

When everyone has returned to the table, we raise the two challah loaves and recite the Hamotzie blessing:

Ba-ruch atah A-do-nay, E-lo-hei-nu Melech Ha-Olam, hamotzie le-chem min ha-ar-etz.

ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם המוציא לחם מן הארץ

Blessed are You, L-rd, our G‑d, King of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Cut the challah, dip it in honey (some also dip it in salt), and have a bite. Pass around pieces and make sure everyone does the same.

Symbolic Foods

On the first night of Rosh Hashanah, after eating the challah with honey, it is customary to eat several foods which symbolize the type of year we wish to have:

We dip a piece of sweet apple into honey. Before eating it we say:

Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam bo-re pri ha-etz.

ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם בורא פרי העץ

Blessed are You, L-rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

Ye-hi ratzon she-ti-cha-desh alei-nu shanah tovah u-m'tu-kah.

יהי רצון שתחדש עלנו שנה טובה ומתוקה

May it be Your will to renew for us a good and sweet year.

A head of a fish, ram, or other kosher animal, is served. This symbolizes our desire to be at the "head of the class" this year.

A pomegranate is eaten, symbolizing our wish to have a year full of mitzvot and good deeds as a pomegranate is filled with luscious seeds.

Throughout the meal, it is customary to also eat foods whose names in the vernacular allude to blessing and prosperity. For example, many have the custom of eating a carrot dish, because in Yiddish the word for carrots, meren, means to multiply.

Rosh Hashanah Cuisine

On Rosh Hashanah it is customary not to eat foods which are sour or tart (the gefilte fish will have to do without the horseradish...). Instead, the focus is on sweet foods, symbolizing our desire to have a sweet year, blessings and abundance. It is also customary not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah, as the numerical value of the Hebrew word for nuts ("egoz") is the same as the Hebrew word for sin ("chet").

Click here for traditional Rosh Hashanah recipes.

Click here for Rosh Hashanah foods according to Sephardic custom.

FOOTNOTES
1.

If it is Shabbat, the Shalom Aleichem and Aishet Chayil hymns are recited before kiddush in an undertone.

2.

Halachically, the two days of Rosh Hashanah are considered as "one long day." This idea led some halachic authorities to doubt whether the Shehecheyanu blessing, which is normally recited at the onset of a holiday day, should be recited during the candle-lighting and kiddush of the second day of Rosh Hashanah.
To dispel any doubt as to the validity of this blessing, we also have in mind the new fruit, whose consumption also requires the recitation of the Shehecheyanu blessing.

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Discussion (19)
September 28, 2014
thank you
allright, Thank you for the answer. It is interesting.
My rav did say that almonds were OK but this is all definitely something to keep in mind, although I still don't understand why the other two words are said to have the same numerical value when they simply don't.
Anonymous
September 24, 2014
RE: chet-egoz
You may be interested that there is another reason for not eating nutsh on Rosh Hashanah. The Maharil (Rabbi Yaakov HaLevi Moelin), a talmudist of the 15th century who compiled and codified many of the customs of Ashkenazic Jewry, notes that nuts tend to increase saliva in one's mouth, making prayer difficult. Considering the amount of praying we do on Rosh Hashanah, and the importance of our words being enunciated clearly specifically on that day, nuts are avoided.

This applies equally to nuts, almonds, and according to common practice, even peanuts.
Menachem Posner
Skokie
September 24, 2014
chet - egoz
I never understood the custom about the nuts - egoz = 17; chet=18 so they are not the same. As for the idea to remove the "alef" because a sin removes us from Hashem, we cannot change the nature of the word, it does have an alef. And what about almonds, whose gematria is 404?
Anonymous
September 22, 2014
Re
No hard boiled eggs are not used traditionally at this meal.
Chabad.org Staff
mychabad.org
September 20, 2014
Erev Rosh Hashannah meal
Are hard boiled eggs used as a symbol during this meal?
Anonymous
Florida
September 18, 2014
Re: Blessing children
The reason why we bless our children on Shabbat specifically, is because on Shabbat every Jew is said to have an extra soul enter their body, and it accompanies them throughout the entire Shabbat. This is an opportune time for blessings to be given, as the person receiving them has an extra "capacity" for receiving blessings.
This idea of an additional soul is said specifically regarding Shabbat and Yom Kippur (which is known as the Shabbat of Shabbatot), and not of the other Festivals.
Shaul Wolf
Chabad.org
September 16, 2014
blessing children
Why are children blessed on Shabbat and Yon Kippur but not on Erev Rosh HaShanah?
Deb
Berkeley, CA
October 14, 2013
Judaism
I find it very hard to see how people of the Jewish faith can sustain this lifestyle of continuous devotion in a being that no one has any substancial evidence that even exists. I personally believe that religion breeds war and corruption and the moral codes are by far out-dated...

but that is just my opinion! Don't get upset about it :P
Billy Brownhill
Coventry, UK
August 13, 2013
Thank you, Chana, but the other article does not mention the carrot dish. Does it have meaning for Sefardim too? Or are there other foods with Hebrew names ) or Ladino) that Sefardim could eat instead?
Elisheva
USA/ France
August 13, 2013
Re
At this link you can find the traditional foods which are eaten on Rosh Hashanah according to Sephardic custom
Mrs. Chana Benjaminson
mychabad.org
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