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Is it true we don't eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah?

Is it true we don't eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah?

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It is indeed customary not to eat nuts on Rosh Hashanah, although this seems to be mentioned only in Ashkenazi halachic literature.

A practical reason for this is given by the Maharil (Rabbi Yaakov HaLevi Moelin), a talmudist of the 15th century who compiled and codified many of the customs of German Jewry.1 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.

Another reason given is more mystical. The numerical equivalent of the word "nut" - egoz in Hebrew - is seventeen. Seventeen is also the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word for sin, chet, not as it's properly spelled, but as it's pronounced. We stay far away from anything reminiscent of sin on Rosh Hashanah, nuts included.

The Eshel Avraham illuminates the custom with a deep insight.2 He notes that Rosh Hashanah is a time to be especially careful with food. On the first Rosh Hashanah in history, Adam and Eve sinned by eating the wrong food. We rectify this in part on Rosh Hashanah by eating foods with auspicious allusions, and avoiding those with negative connotations.

The custom of refraining from eating nuts, as well as both of these reasons, is cited by the Rema (Rabbi Moshe Isserles) in his notes that provide the Ashkenazic modifications to the Code of Jewish Law.3

--Malkie Janowski for Chabad.org

Footnotes
1.
Minhagei Maharil, Hilchos Shofar, 2:p. 287
2.
gloss to Orach Chayim, 583:1
3.
Orach Chayim, 583:2
Malkie Janowski is an accomplished educator who lives in Coral Springs, Florida. Mrs. Janowski is also a responder on Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi team.
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Discussion (16)
October 13, 2016
Does this custom of not eating nuts extend through Yom Kippur and hoshana rabba or is does chabad keep it just until rosh hashana?
Anonymous
September 27, 2016
Are pecans also included in this custom?
Sterni
September 20, 2016
I really appreciate that it was noted that this custom is only mentioned in Ashkenazi halachic literature. It happens so frequently that I read an article or listen to a class (on other sites), and the Sephardic halacha is completely ignored.
Simcha
September 23, 2014
Re:Peanuts
Although I have not seen it discussed clearly regarding peanuts, it makes sense that they are equivalent to other nuts in this regard. The reason given that they add in one's saliva is seemingly applicable to all kinds of nuts, whether they are actually nuts or legumes.
Shaul Wolf
Chabad.org
September 22, 2014
Peanuts - Legumes
As peanuts are actually legumes, are they allowed to be consumed on Rosh Hashanah?
Mendel
September 11, 2014
Nuts on ROsh Hashana
All these recipes with pistachios, walnuts, etc shouldn't be posted everywhere for a Rosh Hashana menu!! There have been cooking events in honor of the holiday with nuts galore in the dishes
Anonymous
November 15, 2012
Celtic new year
In Ankara and surroundings way before Talmud was finished you had the Celts living there (Gauls also later called Galatians). They had 4 new years, and the head of the year was during 31st of October/1st November. Eating apples was their custom. And with a bowl of nuts that fell on the table they tried to predict the future. It just might be the reason why we just don't do this part of their customs. The Apples and 4 new years is o.k., but Avodah Zarah not.
Abshalom
Jerusalem
September 28, 2011
This year, more about shul and personal conduct. I am casting away the Fat traditions. I'm all for beautifying mitzvah with the food but it will be heart healthy.
Anonymous
cleveland, oh
September 22, 2011
It appears that almonds are not considered "nuts" but are in their own category. They are referred to only as "shkeidim" not "egozei shaked" or what-have-you.
Anna Lee
Far Rockaway, New York
September 5, 2010
Eating nuts on Rosh Hashana
Years ago, my father told me it was customary to give children raisins and almonds. Maybe I got the holidays mixed up, but I think it was for Rosh Hashanah.

Anyway, I don't buy into this gematria of 17 being "chet". Everybody knows, 17 is the gematria of "Tov" - GOOD !.

On the other hand, you may have a point. On Rosh Hashana I like to have a waldorf salad. The usual recipe for Waldorf salad is celery, walnuts, raisins and maynaisse. But on Rosh Hashanah I have it without the nuts, and say "Mayo have a Raisin Celery!"
Alexander
Toronto, Ontario/Canada