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Laws and Customs of Rosh Hashana

 
 
Rosh Hashana will be celebrated this year Sunday evening, September 9th through Tuesday evening, September 11th. The yoma arichta, two days that constitute one long day, are full of joy and awe. We celebrate the creation of the world and coronate God as our King, while we also understand it is a day of Judgment where our actions are held to account.
 
Erev Rosh Hashana - Sunday September 9th
Tachanun is omitted in Shacharit and Mincha, and shofar is not blown during Shacharit.
Hatarat Nedarim, the permitting of vows we have inadvertently adopted over the year, is performed, usually after Shacharit. A Beit Din of three adult Jewish men is put together and the formula, found in the siddur, is recited. The formula should be recited in a language the petitioner understands.
 
Candles are lit in the home, with the bracha for lighting candles for yom tov followed by a Shehechiyanu, on both nights. Candlelighting for the first night is 6:51 pm. Shehechiyanu is also recited after kiddush, on both nights.
 
We have the custom to eat apples and honey during dinner. Since the apple and honey is not a part of the meal an additional “borei pri haetz” is recited. The second night it is customary to eat a “new fruit” that one has not eaten in a long time and have that fruit in mind for the shehechiyanu during Kiddush.
 
We do not prepare from one day to the next on Yom Tov. Therefore, in general, we refrain even from setting the dinner table specially for the second day on the first day (although there are various opinions on this matter). The second day begins at nightfall, when candles are lit, at 7:52 pm.
 
Shofar
The biblical mitzvah of the day is to hear the sound of the shofar. A recommended minimum of thirty blasts should be heard. 100 total blasts are sounded over the course of davening, before, during and after mussaf. The Baal Tokeah, shofar blower, recites the blessing “lishmoa bekol shofar” to which listeners respond “amen,” without saying “baruch Hu ovaruch shemo” (as that would indicate that one is not fulfilling ones obligation.” While listening to the sets of shofar blowing during davenning, one should attempt to maintain concentration from one set to the next and not engage in conversation or other activities.
 
Tashlich
After mincha of the first day of Rosh Hashana, Tashlich, the symbolic casting of sins into a body of water, is performed. One may perform tashlich on the second day of Rosh Hashana, and all the way until Yom Kippur.
 
End of Rosh Hashana
Havdalah after Rosh Hashana consists only of the blessing over the wine and the blessing of "hamavdil" (no extra soul is granted on yom tov, nor is there the prohibition of fire, therefore we omit the blessings over spices and fire, respectively).
 
Many have the custom not to recite Kiddush Levanah (Sanctification of the Moon) until after Yom Kippur, since the anxiety of judgment prevents us from a full-hearted praise of God's natural universe until after Yom Kippur. If there is reason to believe it will be a very cloudy week, we would recite it on the Saturday night of Shabbat Shuvah (the Shabbat in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur).
 
 
Tzom Gedalia
Following Rosh Hashana is usually Tzom Gedaliah, a minor fast day. The fast begins at 5:16 am and ends at 7:43 pm. For questions about fasting, please consult Rav Ari.
 
 
Aseret Yemei Teshuvah
The 10 days including Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur are called Aseret Yemei Teshuvah (Ten Days of Return). The Talmud tells us God is close at hand during this time. Coming on the heels of Rosh Hashana, it provides a week to reflect on that and intensify our self-improvement leading into Yom Kippur. We not only recite Avinu Malkeinu as indicated earlier at Shaharit and Minhah, but our Selihot are longer, and we recite Shir Hama'alot, Psalm 130, after Yishtabah every weekday morning.
 
We make six additions in the Amidah, emphasizing God as true King and Judge. All changes are indicated clearly in the siddur. They break into two types – the two (historically) earlier alterations of blessing formulas, and the four later additions not in the blessing formulas. The latter, if forgotten, do not require repeating the Amidah. Of the former two, the change from "hael hakadosh" to "hamelekh hakadosh", if forgotten, requires repeating the Amidah. However, if "melekh ohev tzedakah umishpat" is not changed to "hamelekh hamishpat", one need not repeat.
 
The Shabbat during this period is called Shabbat Shuvah. It is marked with the above mentioned liturgical changes as well as a special Haftorah, and a special drasha helping the community move forward in their process of teshuvah.
 
Wed, September 19 2018 10 Tishrei 5779