Hilkhot Rosh Hashanah 5776

Rabbi David Pardo
Co-Director, OU-JLIC at Brandeis

Sun Sep 13

Mon Sep 14

Tue Sep 15

Wed Sep 16

Is it a Jewish holiday today?

Erev RH



Tzom Gedliah


9:00a (hatarat nedarim following)




Communal Tashlich – 5:30p Yakus Pond[1], Massel





Candle Lighting


after 7:39p

before 7:37p




Fast Begins


Fast Ends


All Services are in Berlin Chapel

Dinners will be in the Lurias. Lunch will be in Sherman. See this page for all the info:

All halakhic times are FOR WALTHAM, MA ONLY. If you are spending yom tov at home, please consult myzmanim.com or your favorite similar website for local times.

Erev Rosh Hashanah (Sun September 13)
We do not blow the Shofar at the conclusion of Shaharit in order to distinguish between the customary (minhag) blowing of the month of Elul and the obligatory blowing of Rosh Hashanah.

Hatarat Nedarim
After minyan on Wednesday morning we will convene batei din (lay courts) to administer hatarat nedarim (annulment of vows).  The optimal time to say this is before Rosh Hashanah, but one has until Yom Kippur to do so.

There is a custom for men to go to the mikvah on
erev Rosh Hashanah in order to fulfill the dictum of lifnei Hashem titharu (purify yourself before God).  A number of mikvaot in the area will be open to men, including:

Please call to confirm hours and availability.  Also, please be aware that most mikva’ot have a suggested donation for use.  Plan on bringing your own towels.  To save time, I suggest showering before going to the Mikvah.

First Night of Rosh Hashanah (Sun Sept. 13)

Candle Lighting
The time for lighting candles in Waltham is 6:41p.  We recite two brakhot:

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק של יום טוב
Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam Asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu lehadlki ne shel Yom Tov.
You are the Source of Blessing, Lord our God Sovereign of the World, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to kindle the light of the holiday.

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגעיענו לזמן הזה
Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam she-hechiyanu ve-kiyimanu ve-higiyanu la-zman ha-zeh.

You are the Source of Blessing, Lord our God, Sovereign of the World, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season.

If using real candles (as opposed to electric lights) a 72 hour candle[2] should be lit as well to enable lighting candles on the second night.

Wednesday night Dinner
The common custom is to use round challahs on Rosh Hashanah and to dip it in honey rather than salt (or in addition to salt).
After saying
ha-motzi over the challah and eating a bite, it is our custom to eat apples with honey.  The proper procedure is to dip a slice of apple in honey, say the brakha on the apple (boreh pri ha-etz) and take one bite.  After the first bite we make the following declaration before eating the rest of the apple:

יהי רצון מלפניך ה' אלקינו ואלקי אבותינו שתחדש עלינו שנה טובה ומתוקה
yehi ratzon milfanecha Hashem Elokeinu ve-Elokei avoteinu she-tichadesh aleinu shanah tovah u-metukah.
May it be Your will, Lord our God and God of our ancestors, that you bless us with a good and sweet new year.

There are many other traditions of symbolic foods that we eat; the apple dipped in honey is just the most popular. A partial listing is available in the Rosh Hashanah machzor.

First day of Rosh Hashanah (Sun Sept 14)
The essential mitzvah of Rosh Hashanah is to hear the Shofar blasts.  We sound the shofar both days of the holiday as part of the davening.  Each day we sound a total of 100 blasts.  Ideally there should be no talking or interruption between the blessing and the completion of the Shofar at the end of

Before lunch we recite the daytime kidush with the proper insertions for Rosh Hashanah.
A hala
khic concern that arises on Rosh Hashanah is the fact that many synagogues do not finish services until after hatzot (halakhic noon).  There is a concern on Shabbat and Yom Tov that we should not spend the majority of the day fasting.  There is also may be a problem eating or drinking before fulfilling the mitzvah of shofar. Some shuls have a kiddush before mussaf to alleviate the first concern, some do not out of deference to the second concern.

On Monday afternoon we have the custom of saying
tashlich.  Tashlich should be said by a live, flowing body of water which has fish living in it.  Most poskim feel that one should not throw bread into the water as this might create a halakhic problem with feeding the fish on Yom Tov.  
For those who will be on campus, please join us for a communal
tashlich at 5:30p at Yakus Pond in the Massel Quad.

Second Day of Rosh Hashanah – Thursday evening
We are forbidden to prepare on one day of Yom Tov for the next.  Thus no preparations for dinner should take place until after 7

Candle Lighting
Candles should be lit from an existing flame after the stars come out (7:
39p).  Once again we recite two blessings on the candles:

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר של יום טוב

baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-Olam Asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu lehadlik ner shel yom tov

Blessed are You Lord our God, Sovereign of the world, Who has sanctified with His commandments and has commanded us to kindle the light of the festival.

ברוך אתה ה' אלקינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגעיענו לזמן הזה

Baruch Atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam she-hechiyanu ve-kiyimanu ve-higiyanu la-zman ha-zeh.
Blessed are You Lord our God, sovereign of the world, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this season

When reciting she-hechiyanu we should have in mind the new fruit that we will eat during the meal (see below).

Like the first night, the custom is to eat apples and honey immediately after the Challah (see above for a full explanation).
In addition to the apples and honey, we also have the custom to eat a new fruit at dinner on the second night of Rosh Hashanah.  This removes any
halakhic difficulties with saying She-hechiyanu as part of the candle lighting or kidush.[3]

The day is otherwise a repeat of the first day: shofar, kidush etc. When the machzor offers you the option, choose the liturgy for second day.


There is a tradition not to nap on Rosh Hashanah.  The reason is that it is inappropriate to fall asleep when we are being judged and our fate is being sealed.  

While this minhag has much meaning and significance, it should be balanced with the imperative to enjoy Yom Tov and pray with enough energy.

Cooking on Yom Tov

On Yom Tov we are permitted to perform certain activities that we can't do on Shabbat if they fall under the category of ochel nefesh (things that are beneficial to the soul, ie soul food[4]).  This broad category includes cooking and preparing food for the Chag, carrying, and other activities.  One may cook on Yom Tov with the following restrictions:

Showering on Yom Tov

Some poskim feel that showering on Yom Tov is permitted by the principle of ochel nefesh (things that are beneficial to the soul) if a person feels particularly dirty from not having showered.  If one decides that he/she needs to shower on Yom Tov, the following guidelines must be followed:

Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (The Ten Days of Repentance)

The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the ten days of repentance.  Tradition tells us that those whose fate was not sealed on Rosh Hashanah (beinonim) hang in limbo until they are judged on Yom Kippur, and that every one of us should see ourselves as being a beinoni.  In this light, many have the custom of taking on extra stringencies on themselves in order to develop a pattern of more meticulous religious observance.  It is also customary to learn works of Mussar or inspiring works of Teshuvah in this time period and to give Tzedakah.

Tzom Gedaliah

Tzom Gedaliah (the fast of Gedaliah) is on Wednesday September 16. On this day we commemorate the assassination of Gedaliah ben Achikam, the last Jewish autonomous leader after the Babylonian conquest of the land of Israel.  The fast begins at 5:00a and concludes at 7:24p

About fasting: some people wake up early to eat before 5:00a to make the fast easier. If one does this, they must verbalize a condition before falling asleep that they are not accepting the fast upon themselves. However, it’s the Rabbi’s personal opinion that this doesn’t actually make fasting easier, but that part is up to you.


We continue to say selichot during the aseret yemei Teshuvah (10 days of repentance) leading up to Yom Kippur.

Liturgical Additions

We make several additions/insertions in the davening during the aseret yemei teshuvah, including:

::heyrabbi@brandeis.edu::        RH 5776        

[1] Did you know it was called that?

[2] Many people use 24 hour yahrtzeit candles, but these often don’t last till candle lighting the second day, and certainly don’t last long enough for Shabbat candle lighting. I recommend the 72-hour variety. Or any big candle.

[3] The second day of RH may be unlike most second days. It may be considered two independent days, or one very long day. Therefore, there is a doubt wether or not to say she-hechiyanu on the second eve. Therefore, having a fruit that you have not eaten in a full season alleviates the concern of a brakha said in vain. If you cannot acquire a fruit, or anything else new, you should make the brakha anyway.

[4] ie not soul food, that was just a joke.