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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. He lives with his family in Montreal, QC.
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Discussion (9)
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?
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".
Elisheva
France/USA
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.
Deborah
Pittstown, NJ
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!
Chaya
Minneaptown, MN
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..
Yiskah
September 4, 2010
Are you to eat the head of the animal? If so, how exactly should one cook the head of the Ram?
Ronn
Modiin, Israel
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!
Keshti
Easton, CT
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?
A Gutyor
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!
Anonymous
Roanoke, VA
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