Erev Rosh Hashanah:
1. It is customary [but not mandatory] to fast until Halachik mid-day. [1:06 PM]
2. Additional Selichos are said in the morning.
3. No Tachanun is said during the morning service.
4. We do not blow the Shofar after the morning service.
5. One should nullify his / her vows before 3 people in a language that you
understand. See Artscroll Siddur pg. 762. Women can appoint their husbands as
their agents to nullify their vows for them. Other women rely on the Kol Nidrei
ceremony to nullify their vows.
6. It is customary to visit the cemetery.
7. One should spend time doing Teshuvah, giving charity, learning, and asking
forgiveness from other people. Before Rosh Hashanah actually begins, one
should resolve to strive to focus on improving a specific area on conduct during
the New Year.
8. One should preferably take a shave and haircut before Halachik Mid- day. [1:06
9. Men should immerse in the Mikveh no earlier than one hour before Halachik Midday.
10.One should familiarize oneself with the Machzor.
11. One should wear festive clothing, but in moderation. Save new clothing for the
second night of Yom Tov.
12.It is customary to bake or purchase Challah in the form of a circle, ladder, or bird.
13.One should be careful not to display anger or even become angry during these
14.Remember that on Rosh Hashanah one is permitted to cook or bake from a preexisting
fire. You need not have all your food cooked before Yom Tov. [Which
is generally required to be done for Shabbos.] Consult with your Rabbi to learn
more of the Halachik details involved.
15.It is preferable and practical to light a 24 hour Yartzeit candle before Yom Tov, so
that you will have a pre-existing flame to use throughout the first day of Yom Tov.
This flame will be the one that you can light candles from on the second night of
First Evening of Rosh Hashanah:
1. Women light candles either at the regular time of candle lighting [6:37 PM] or
from a pre-existing flame when the men come home from Shul and are ready to
eat. They make 2 blessings: One for the Mitzvah of lighting the Yom Tov candles
and the other “Shehechiyanu” blessing. [If a woman forgets to light candles at
these two times, she may light them from a pre-existing flame the entire evening.]
2. Men should daven Minchah with a Minyan and everyone should say Minchah
with extra concentration, as it is the final prayer of the year 5775.
3. The earliest time to either light candles or make Kiddush is after 5:43 PM.
4. 4 insertions are made in the Maariv Amidah [and for all Amidahs through Yom
Kippur], which are found in the Artscroll Machzor on pages 62, 64, 66, and 72.
One must repeat the Amidah if one forgot to insert “Hamelech Hakadosh.”
5. Special greetings are given to friends and family members after Maariv and
before Kiddush. “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year [immediately,
for a good life and for peace].” See Artscroll Machzor pg. 90 for the Hebrew text.
This greeting should only be said on the first night. Greetings for the remainder of
Rosh Hashanah should be limited to “Shana Tova”, “Happy New Year”, “Chag
Samayach”, or “Good Yom Tov.”
6. After making the special Yom Tov Kiddush and washing our hands, we make a
Brocha over two Challahs, and cut the top Challah.
7. Challah is dipped in honey [some have the custom to dip the Challah into salt as
8. Symbolic foods are eaten at the evening meal. See Artscroll Machzor pg. 96-98.
The first symbolic fruit to be eaten should be the date. You should make the
blessing “Borei Pri Ha’etz” on that fruit, keeping in mind the other fruits you will
be eating on this night. Eat a little of it, followed by the special “Yehi Ratzon”
prayer, and then finish the date. There are no other blessings made on the
symbolic foods. One does say the special “Yehi Ratzon” prayer before eating
each of the symbolic foods.
9. If one is not able to eat any of the symbolic foods, one may look at them and say
the special “Yehi Ratzon” prayer.
10.Some have a custom to avoid eating sour or bitter foods and nuts.
11. Remember to make the proper insertions during the Birchas Hamazon.
12.It is a custom to learn one Chapter of Mishnayos from Tractate Rosh Hashanah
after each of the Yom Tov meals.
First Day of Rosh Hashanah:
1. Men should come on time to Shul and say the Amidah with a Minyan.
2. The Shema should be recited before 10:12 AM.
3. One should optimally listen to 100 blasts of the Shofar on both days of Rosh
Hashanah. 30 are blown before Mussaf. 30 are blown during the repetition. 40
are blown at the end of the service.
4. Men are obligated to hear the Shofar. Women are technically exempt from
hearing the Shofar; however, it has become customary for women to hear at
least 30 blasts of the Shofar.
5. Children, who are old enough to silently listen to the Shofar, should be
encouraged to do so. Little children, who will disturb the service, may not be
brought to Shofar blowing.
6. It is forbidden to talk while the Shofar is being blown. One should not speak
from the time that the blessings on the Shofar are made until after hearing
the 100th and final note. Only under extenuating circumstances may one talk
after hearing the first 30 blasts.
1. One is obligated to eat Challah and have a meal on both days of Rosh
2. One should not sleep in the afternoon. [One may be lenient on the second day.]
3. It is not the custom to visit friends in the afternoon.
4. Any free time in the afternoon should be spent learning Torah or doing Teshuvah
or doing acts of kindness. It is not a time for idle chatter.
5. After Minchah, it is customary to go to Tashlich.
6. The custom in to recite Tashlich preferably at a body of running water [i.e. a river
or stream] where fish are found. If that is not possible, one can say it by any body
of water – even a well.
7. When reciting the word “Vesashlich”, it is customary to shake out the corners or
pockets of your outer garments, which are empty.
8. It is forbidden to throw any crumbs of food into the water. [or to feed the or
9. Tashlich was not designed to be a venue for socializing. [One is permitted to
invite guests for meals and should make an effort to keep the discussions
focused on the theme and spirit of Rosh Hashanah.]
Second Evening of Rosh Hashanah:
1. One should pray the evening service after Tashlich. It is preferable to say it after
the stars come out, or at least after sunset.
2. One may not make any Yom Tov preparations for the second night, light candles,
or make Kiddush until after 7:44 PM.
3. Candle lighting and Kiddush are done in the same way as on the first night.
4. One should wear a new garment for candle lighting / the second evening meal. It
is questionable as to whether one can make a “Shehechiyanu” blessing on any
fruits. The only fruit that one, who lives in Toronto, can definitely say the
“Shehechiyanu” blessing is on pumpkins and Ontario concord grapes.
5. Some people have the custom to eat the symbolic foods and recite the special
prayers at this meal as well.
Second day of Rosh Hashanah:
1. The procedures for this day are the same as the first day. The exception being
that we do not go to Tashlich again. If it rained on the first day or you were not
able to go to Tashlich [or the first day was Shabbos], you should do so on the
second day. [If one does not have the opportunity to go to Tashlich on both days
of Yom Tov, you are permitted to do it until the seventh day of Succos – Hoshana
2. We make Havdalah after 7:42 PM by saying the blessing "Borei Pri Hagofen" &
"Hamavdil" at the conclusion of Yom Tov.
Rosh Hashanah: Yehi Ratzon – Symbolic Foods Text and Instructions
All of the Yehi Ratzons start out the same way:
"Yehi Ratzon Mil'fa'necha, Ad-noi El-heinu Vei'l-hai Avosainu..."
(The "-" represents the letter "o," which was purposely left out so as not to write out the
name of G-d.)
"May it be your will, Hashem our G-d and the G-d of our forefathers..."
Listed below are the various foods and the endings, which are appropriate to them:
For dates: "...She'yitamu son'ainu." "...that our enemies be consumed."
For pomegranate: "...she'nirbeh ze'chu'yos k'rimon"
"...that our merits increase like (the seeds of) a pomegranate."
For the apple in the honey: "...she'tichadesh aleinu shana tova u'm'tuka."
"...that you renew us for a good and sweet year."
For fenugreek (or carrots - as the Yiddish word for carrots - Mehren - can also mean
"to increase," this Yehi Ratzon is appropriate as well):
"...She'yir'bu ze'chuyo'sainu." "...that our merits increase."
For leek or cabbage: "...She'yikar'su son'ainu." "...that our enemies be decimated."
For beets: "...She'yistalku oy'vainu." "...that our adversaries be removed."
For gourd: "...She'yikora g'zar de'nainu v'yikaru l'fanecha zechu'yosainu."
"...that the decree of our sentence be torn up and may our merits be proclaimed before
For fish: "...She'nif'reh v'nir'beh ki'dagim." "...that we be fruitful and multiply like fish."
For the head of a fish or sheep: "...She'ni'hiyeh l'rosh v'lo l'zanav."
"...that we be as the head and not as the tail."
All of these Yehi Ratzons are said on the first night of Rosh Hashanah, after Kiddush
has been made, after the blessing over the Challos (breads) has been made and the
bread has been eaten. (There are those who have the custom to eat these foods and
recite the Yehi Ratzon on the second night as well.) After the bread has been eaten, one
should take the date, make the blessing that one would normally make on fruit [“Borei
Pri Ha’etz’], and then take a bite of the date. Before one has eaten the whole date, one
should recite the Yehi Ratzon. After the date, one can then have all, none, or some of
the other foods.