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The Laws of Rosh Chodesh

The Laws of Rosh Chodesh

The beginning, or “head,” of the Jewish month

  • One should not fast on Rosh Chodesh, even if the fast is intended for just a few hours.1
  • Although there is no obligation to wash and eat a meal in honor of Rosh Chodesh, one should endeavor to increase in what is eaten on Rosh Chodesh, in honor of this day, and even to include bread during the meal.2
  • One should not take a haircut on Rosh Chodesh, even if it comes out on Friday and the haircut will be taken in honor of the Shabbat.3
  • One should also avoid cutting nails on Rosh Chodesh.4
  • If a child turns three years old on Rosh Chodesh, the upsherenish (cutting of the hair at the age of three) should take place right after Rosh Chodesh, and not on the day itself.5

Grace After Meals

  • In the Grace After Meals, we add the paragraph beginning Yaaleh v’yavo (“May there ascend . . .”) in the third blessing. (For the text of the Grace After Meals, click here.) If one forgets to say Yaaleh v’yavo and realizes his error before saying G‑d’s name at the end of the paragraph beginning Uv’nei yerushalayim (“And rebuild Jerusalem . . .”), Yaaleh v’yavo can still be recited there. If, however, you already said G‑d’s name, conclude the blessing and then add these words:

    Transliteration: Baruch a‑toh A‑do‑noi Elo‑heinu me‑lech ha‑o‑lam she‑na‑san ro‑shei cho‑da‑shim le‑a‑mo yis‑ra‑el le‑zi‑ka‑ron.

    Translation: Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has given the days of Rosh Chodesh to His people Israel for remembrance.

  • If you already said the first word of the fourth blessing, continue with Grace, and it is not necessary to repeat it.

The Prayers

  • On Rosh Chodesh we recite the “half Hallel.” The chazzan (cantor) should say the blessing at the beginning and the end of Hallel and thereby exempt all the congregants, and the congregants should answer “Amen” and thus be included within the blessing.6 If a person is praying alone, without a minyan, he or she should recite the blessing.
  • The special Rosh Chodesh Musaf is recited.
  • We insert Yaaleh v’yavo in the Amidah of the Shacharit, Minchah and Maariv prayers of Rosh Chodesh. It is inserted in the blessing of Retzei (“Look with favor . . .”). If you inadvertently omitted Yaaleh v’yavo and realized this error before pronouncing G‑d’s name in the blessing Hamachazir shechinato letzion (“Who restores His Divine Presence to Zion”), return to Yaaleh V’yavo and say it.
  • If, however, you realize your error after pronouncing G‑d’s name, the following rules apply for Shacharit and Minchah:
    1. If you realize the error right after saying G‑d’s name, add the words lamdeini chukecha (“Teach me Your statutes”), and then return to Yaaleh V’yavo.7
    2. If you already said hamachazir, but did not start the Modim (“We thankfully acknowledge . . .”) blessing, you can say Yaaleh v’yavo there, and continue with Modim.
    3. If you already started Modim, and realized your omission before completing the line Yihyu leratzon . . . vego’ali (“May the words . . . and my Redeemer”) at the end of the paragraph beginning Elokai netzor (“My G‑d, guard . . .”), return to the blessing of Retzei and continue from there.
    4. If you already finished saying Yihyu leratzon, even though you did not take the three steps backward, you must return to the beginning of the Amidah.
  • During Maariv, however, once you have recited G‑d’s name in the blessing Hamachazir, you cannot avail yourself of any of the options mentioned above. Simply finish the Amidah, and do not repeat it.
Hence a bride and groom, who customarily fast on the day of their wedding do not fast on Rosh Chodesh, with the exception of Rosh Chodesh of the month of Nissan, on which they do fast. The reason for this is that Rosh Chodesh Nissan is a day when certain righteous people fast, due to its being the yahrzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Nadav and Avihu, the sons of the high priest Aaron. (Similarly, there are righteous people who fast on Rosh Chodesh of the month of Av, since that is Aaron’s own yahrzeit.)
A bride and groom getting married on any other Rosh Chodesh should fast on the preceding day. The Rebbe writes (in a letter printed in Teshuvos Ubeurim, and in Likkutei Sichot, vol. 24, p. 464) that they should also say the vidui (confession of sins) on the preceding day, the eve of Rosh Chodesh.
Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 419. Tur, quoting Pesikta, writes that on Rosh Hashanah G‑d decides each person’s “budget” for the coming year, except for the money one spends for Shabbat, the holidays, Rosh Chodesh and Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the holidays), for which one is reimbursed fully.
R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi’s Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 260.
Testament of Rabbi Yehudah Hechassid (cited as halachah by Ba’er Heitev to Orach Chaim loc. cit.). It is interesting that R. Schneur Zalman omits this ruling from his Shulchan Aruch. R. Chaim Naeh (Badei Hashulchan 73:4) wonders why this is so.
Likkutei Sichot, vol. 13, p. 265.
R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Siddur, instructions before Hallel.
Luach Kollel Chabad, Chol Hamoed Sukkot.
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Discussion (12)
April 9, 2013
RE: Wedding
Generally, a person may certainly get married the day/evening preceding Rosh Chodesh. In this particular case, it is problematic because you are running up against the first part of the Month of Av, when weddings are not held. Before choosing a date, I highly recommend that you run the date by the rabbi who will be officiating so that you do not run into any last-minute surprises.
Menachem Posner
April 8, 2013
Is one allowed to get married on Rosh Chodesh when it starts the next day. So if you were to have your wedding on July 7,2013 and Rosh Chodesh starts on July 8. Is that allowed?

Does anyone know?
Queens New York
August 21, 2012
Re: Transactions
It is permissible for both men and women to make business transactions on Rosh Chodesh.
August 19, 2012
rosh chodesh
Is it permitted to make transactions on rosh chodesh?
san diego , usa
June 21, 2012
Hallel on Rosh Chodesh
What does one do if they inadvertently omitted Hallel at Shacharit? May Hallel be recited all day?
Washington, DC
February 20, 2012
Re Rosh Chodesh
Candles are not lit on Rosh Chodesh, as it's a minor holiday. Candles are lit before Shabbat and on major Jewish holidays such as Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot.
February 19, 2012
Rosh Chodesh
Is there candle lighting on Rosh Chodesh?
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
October 28, 2011
day off 4 women
This is beautiful, as women we are caregivers, doctors, mothers, cleaners, psychologists, counsellors, mentalists, cooks. What a beautiful let all women know how loved, honoured and appreciated we are. Shalom.
kristi chelaru
mudgee, New South Wales
October 28, 2011
The consensus of most halachic authorities is that the work which women should avoid doing on Rosh Chodesh is limited to laundry, sewing, embroidery and all other types of needle-work
atlanta, USA
September 1, 2008
Rosh Chodesh Observance
The consensus of most halachic authorities is that the work which women should avoid doing on Rosh Chodesh is limited to laundry, sewing, embrodery and all other types of needlework. Opinions vary regarding ironing. However, there is no problem with cooking on Rosh Chodesh. It is permitted.
Eliezer Wenger
Montreal, Canada