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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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Anonymous 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? Reply

Sterni September 27, 2016

Are pecans also included in this custom? Reply

Simcha 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. Reply

Shaul Wolf Chabad.org 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. Reply

Mendel September 22, 2014

Peanuts - Legumes As peanuts are actually legumes, are they allowed to be consumed on Rosh Hashanah? Reply

Anonymous 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 Reply

Abshalom Jerusalem 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. Reply

Anonymous cleveland, oh 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. Reply

Anna Lee Far Rockaway, New York 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. Reply

Alexander Toronto, Ontario/Canada 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!" Reply

A Talmid April 29, 2010

Why cheit without Aleph The Degel Machane Ephraim (grandson of Baal Shem Tov) says that the word "cheit" spelled with an aleph represents one that remembers that there is One above, he is returning. Without the aleph, "cheit" represents sin without any thought of the One above.

Der Shkotz-
It is brought down by the Halachic giants to eat things that their names have good connotations such as "Mehrn" which means carrots in Yiddish and also means to multiply. It is not idiotic but rooted in Holiness. Of course the main thing is teshuva, but while we eat we have symbolic foods so that the Yom Tov meal has extra significance and not just another meal. Reply

Birthright Alumus October 12, 2008

Hey Yehuda! Thanks for clarifying that.

As for you Mister Shkotz from Seagate, let me tell you that the singular form of "shkotzim" is "sheigetz." Reply

Der Shkotz Seagate, New York October 12, 2008

Nuts for Nuts This whole thing about nuts is ridiculous. The main point of the ten days of penitence is to ask for the pardon of those people who we wronged during that year, to ask The Creator, may he be blessed, to be a loving father and forgive us for not carrying out his orders of, "Do what you can for whom you can", and to ask for enough brains to do better in the coming year and to allow us to live out that year in health, peace and tranquility with a little parnohsa thrown in for good measure.
The moronic thinkers tell us to eat carrots ....MEHRN= CARROTS and if you eat carrots du vest zich alayn mehrn...THIS IS IDIOTIC!!!!
Why do Jews allow themselves to be burdened with every nonsensical comment that someone thinks up. Why doesn't someone think up a way to figure out the numbers for the lottery, or how to elect an honest Representitive, or a way to make this city a more livable place to reside in??? Reply

Yehuda Shurpin October 11, 2008

Re: 17 = Tov Regarding the question that the Hebrew word Egoz – nut, is also the numerical equivalent of the Hebrew word Tov – good (I.e. both equal 17). So why do we assume that nuts are related to the Word Cheit – sin, and we refrain from eating nuts, instead of saying that it is related to the word Tov – Good?

This question can be found in a note inserted into many editions of Rashi's commentary to the Book of Isaiah 11:1. There the author (of the note) writes that he asked many scholars this very question and he gives the following answer based on how the Zohar expounds on the verse in Genesis 2:17 " but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Meaning that one should avoid even good that is mixed with bad. Therefore, although Egoz equals Tov – good, it also equals Cheit – sin, which means that it has a mixture of good and bad. And one should try and avoid even that good which is mixed in with the bad (and not pure good) on Rosh Hashanah.

Interestingly enough, we find that Rabbi Moshe Isserles in his gloss to the Shulchan Aruch 611:2 citing the Maharil (Rabbi Yaakov HaLevi Moelin – who is the source for the above cited reason for not eating nuts on Rosh Hashanah) writes that it was the custom for children to play with nuts on Yom Kippur. In the Responsa Kfi Ahron (Rabbi Ahron Epstein) Responsa 57 he reconciles this by explaining that Yom Kippur is a day of atonement and forgiveness (as opposed to Rosh Hashanah which is more of a day of judgment) . It is a day in which G-d transforms our sins -with proper Teshuvah- into merits. Therefore, on this day the Cheit – Sins (of Egoz) are transformed into Tov – Good, and all that you have left is Egoz equals Tov- good! Therefore it was the custom to give the children nuts to play with on Yom Kippur.

I hope this helps. May we all merit a year of only Good! Reply

K. Kney Cda October 4, 2008

What are negative foods? Reply

Birthright alumnus September 28, 2008

egz=sin or egoz=tov? Chait (sin) is gematria 18. If you misspell it (and leave out the silent alef) then it's 17. Egoz (nut) is gematria 17. Tov (good) is gematria 17.

So why are we assuming nuts are related to chait--with which it kind-of-sort-of-not-really shares a gematria, isntead of assuming that it's related to tov, with which it reall does share gematria?

I heard the question from a very spiritual-looking guy in the Old City of Jerusalem. So whenever I think of this question, I always think of Jeruslaem, which is nice. Reply

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