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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 bore pri ha-etz.

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. 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-are-tz.

[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 bore pri ha-etz.

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.

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 (12)
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
August 12, 2013
Sefardim
What do Sefardim eat instead of carrots, since we don't speak Yiddish?
Elisheva
October 2, 2011
To Anonymous, PHILADELPHIA, PA
The Chabad custom is to eat the apple in honey after making hamotzi. The reason we recite the Ha'etz blessing is because fruit are not considered to be part of the meal and warrant their own blessing--even when eaten during the meal.

(On the other hand the new fruit eaten on the second night is connected to the Shehechiyanu blessing said in kiddush, and it is eaten immediately after the kiddush, before washing and breaking bread.)
Menachem Posner for Chabad.org
September 28, 2011
extra blessing
Since we do it before the challah, we haven't said hamotzi yet, so we need to say haetz over the apple. Some customs make hamotzi first and then the haetz is not said. The real question is why the Chabad custom davka eats the apple first. I think it's kabbalistic, but I don't know. Anyone out there can clarify?
Anonymous
PHILADELPHIA, PA
September 27, 2011
Extra Beracha
Why do we say "Borei P'ri Haeitz" on the apple after we already ate Challah?
A.B.
Chandler, AZ
September 12, 2010
RE: Fasting
While there was a custom held by some people to fast on Rosh Hashanah, this is not the proper practice. These days were given to us from G-d to celebrate with Him. Thus, we are enjoined to eat and drink on these days--confident that He has already promised us a good, sweet year.
Menachem Posner for Chabad.org
September 7, 2010
Fasting
How do you observe such holidays when you have been called to fasting and required to abstain from food?
Anonymous
Nashville, TN/USA
October 10, 2007
Re: Numerical Value of Egoz and Chet
That's a good observation! However, there is a principle in Gematriah called "Kollel" - that an extra count of one can be added to a Gematriah for each word. Put differently, the word itself adds one to the total - giving "egoz" the numerical number of 18.
Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar, Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi Team
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