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Rosh Hashanah Seder According to Sephardic Custom

Rosh Hashanah Seder According to Sephardic Custom

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On both nights of Rosh Hashanah, a number of foods are eaten to symbolize our prayers and hopes for a sweet new year. Many of these foods were specifically chosen because their Hebrew names are related to other Hebrew words that convey our wishes for the coming year.1 An accompanying prayer is recited, expressing our wishes inherent in these words and foods.2 Recite each prayer while holding the particular food in the right hand, immediately before it is eaten.

Before Rosh Hashanah, gather the following items:

  • Dates
  • Small light colored beans
  • Leeks
  • Beets
  • Gourd
  • Pomegranate
  • Apple (cooked in sugar) and honey
  • Head of a ram (or a fish)

After chanting kiddush, washing, and breaking bread, the following foods are eaten:

תמרים

Dates. Related to the word תם—to end.

Take a date and recite:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָעֵץ
Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.

After eating the date, take another one and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּתַּמּוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that there come an end to our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us.

רוביא—לוביא

Small beans. Related to the words, רב—many, and לב—heart.

(The following blessing over vegetables is only recited if one has not recited the blessing over bread:3

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה' אֱלֹהינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּוֹרֵא פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה

Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the earth.)

Take some white beans and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּרְבּוּ זָכִיּוֹתֵינוּ וּתְלַבְּבֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that our merits shall increase and that You hearten us.

כרתי

Leek. Related to the word כרת—to cut.

Take a leek and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּכָּרְתוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that our enemies, haters, and those who wish evil upon us shall be cut down.

סלקא

Beets. Related to the word סלק—to depart.

Take a beet and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁיִּסְתַּלְּקוּ אוֹיְבֵינוּ וְשׂוֹנְאֵינוּ וְכָל מְבַקְשֵׁי רָעָתֵנוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that our enemies, haters and those who wish evil upon us shall depart.

קרא

Gourd. Related to the word קרע—to rip apart, and also קרא—to announce.

Take a gourd and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁתִּקְרַע רוֹעַ גְּזַר דִּינֵנוּ, וְיִקָּרְאוּ לְפָנֶיךָ זָכִיּוֹתֵינוּ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that the evil of our verdicts be ripped, and that our merits be announced before you.

רימון

Pomegranate.

Take the pomegranate and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁנִּהְיֶה מְלֵאִים מִצְוֹת כָּרִמּוֹן

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that we be filled with mitzvot like a pomegranate [is filled with seeds].

תפוח בדבש

Apple and Honey.

Dip an apple in honey – some have the custom of using an apple cooked with sugar – and say:

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה כַּדְּבָשׁ

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that You renew for us a year good and sweet like honey.

ראש כבש

Ram's Head (or the head of another kosher animal or fish4).

יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֶיךָ ה' אֱלֹהינוּ וֵאלֵֹהי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁנִּהְיֶה לְרֹאשׁ וְלֹא לְזָנָב

May it be Your will, Lord our G‑d and the G‑d of our fathers, that we be a head and not a tail.

(The following is added only over the head of a ram:

וְתִזְכֹּר לָנוּ עֲקֵדָתוֹ וְאֵילוֹ שֶׁל יִצְחָק אָבִינוּ בֶּן אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ עַלֵיהֶם הַשָּׁלוֹם

…And You shall remember for us the binding and the ram of our forefather Isaac, the son of our forefather Abraham, peace be onto them.)

Footnotes
1.

Talmud, Keritut 6a.

2.

The order here is based on the instructions of Rabbi Yosef Haim of Bagdad (Ben Ish Hai, Year II, Netzavim, 4).

3.

See Kaf Hachayim 583:12.

4.

Other than that of a goat.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for Chabad.org.
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Corinne Copelan West Wendover, Nevada September 18, 2017

I am Sepharadic jewess, and my parents were from Algiers, North Africa and France. My mom, and both set of grandparents made "Macrouds" with dates(cooked with spices and made in paste) and others with almonds(homemade marzipan). And "cigars" rolled pastries stuffed with homemade marzipan. Ounce there are cooked, fried or baked, home made syrup made of Honey, orange(and vanilla optional) is dripped on them. Reply

Esther August 9, 2017

I'm Ashkenazi and I'm surprised to hear this referred to as a Sephardi custom! My family is Orthodox and we've been doing this all my life. Reply

Albert Rofe NY September 25, 2016

Omelettes I am sephardic. For many years my mother made a leek omelette, a swiss chard omelette and a parsley omelette for RoshHaShana. I never did understand why. When my grandfather was alive he made a blessing on the various items but I do not find anywhere what these prayers are except for leeks which is Bore Peri Haetz Reply

Anonymous NYC September 17, 2017
in response to Albert Rofe:

Why would leeks be "pri ha-atz" when they grow in the ground; wouldn't it be "pri ha-adama?" Reply

Rabino Aminadav Hinton Converse TX September 13, 2015

Rabino Aminadav Hinton As a Sephardic Mizrahi African American Jew I am rather surprised to see this listed on Chabad but very delighted that it is. Our rich illustrious cultural traditions strengthen us as a people. I am proud of all of our contribution to Jewry. As we say in Ladino at this time of the year: Anyada buena, dulse i alegre - May you have a good, sweet and happy New Year! Reply

Anonymous ny September 23, 2014

I have met Ashkenaz chassidim from Boro Park and Flatbush who said that they do this! Why is it that Chabad doesn't, and other Ashkenazim do??
(its such a beautiful custom) Reply

Anonymous July 24, 2014

I am not sure if all Sephardim have this custom. I know that Persian Jews have a Rosh Hashannah Seder. Reply

Alice israel September 19, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

We are from Morocco and of course we have the Seder as listed above! Reply

Elisheva France/USA August 13, 2013

Additional fruit Thank you for mentioning Sefardim minhag on this site! :)

However, I noticed that you didn't mention the "additional fruit" to recite the Shecheyanu upon. Is it an Ashkenazic tradition? Reply

Elisheva France/USA August 13, 2013

Fish head Ronn -- The head of the fish is not to be eaten, it is just a symbol for the "head of the year". Reply

Deborah Pittstown, NJ September 24, 2011

Sephardic Rosh Hashana Thank you so much. I will be attending my first Sephardic Rosh Hashana dinner and I wondered what to expect.
This is very helpful. Reply

Chaya Minneaptown, MN November 20, 2010

Thank you very much for including this amazing custom from the Sephardi tradition! So wonderful to have the Sephardi customs respected here! Reply

Yiskah September 7, 2010

To Ronn you eat the cheek
it's yum
as to how to cook it..
I'm pretty sure you just bake it.. Reply

Ronn Modiin, Israel September 4, 2010

Are you to eat the head of the animal? If so, how exactly should one cook the head of the Ram? Reply

Keshti Easton, CT September 3, 2010

To A. Gutyor Of course you can say it in English. You can say it in English first, and then try to sound it out in Hebrew. Worth the effort! Reply

A Gutyor September 20, 2009

to anon, The whole point is that you should know what you are saying. So if you do not know Hebrew, why would you not just say it in English? Reply

Anonymous Roanoke, VA September 18, 2009

Transliteration Please I am really bad with Hebrew, and I'm sure there are others in the same boat. Can you please add a transliteration? Thanks! Reply

Gavriel Lagos Nigeria September 20, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

If we don't eat the head of fish which is one of the option that represent (head) rosh definitely is should be applicable to head of ram. Reply

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