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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 10 Apr 2020 05:41 PM and ends Sat 11 Apr 2020 06:40 PM

Laws of Yamim Noraim

כ"ב אלול ה' אלפים תשס"ט


It is customary to recite Hataras Nedarim (the annulment of vows) on the eve of Rosh Hashanah. This should be done in the presence of a Tribunal, constituted by three men over the age of Bar Mitzvah. Unlike typical tribunal requirements, these men may be related to each other. If one could not do hataras nedarim prior to Rosh Hashanah, it
should be done during the Aseres Yemai Teshuvah.

It is customary for men to immerse in a mikvah in the afternoon (after Chatzos, halachic midday).



As all our actions reap harvest of one kind or another, the Talmud relates that certain foods are associated with potential results, and, as such, are eaten purposefully at the beginning of The New Year. Following the hamotzi upon the challos, most people eat an apple dipped in honey at the beginning of the evening meal, after reciting a Borai P’ri Ha’etz.. The Yehi Ratzon Shetichadeish Alenu Shana Tova U’Mesuka (i.e. asking G-d for a good and sweet year), should be said after swallowing the first bite.

Other customs include:
• Eating pomegranates, with the hope that our Zechuyot, merits, be as numerous
as the seeds of a pomegranate (613, like the number of mitzvos)
• Eating dates, asking that that our enemies be silenced.
• Eating only sweet things for a sweet year.
• Refraining from eating nuts because of the Hebrew numerical value equivalent
to sin.
• Eating carrot tzimmes, that our merits be multiplied.
• Eating squash, asking that the evil decree shall be torn (kara/Aramaic for squash) before G-d
• Eating leeks (karsi/to be cut off), that our enemies be vanquished.
• Eating the head of a fish or sheep, asking that we be the head of nations, and not those trailing behind.
• Eating fish, with the hope that we be as numerous.
• Eating beets or spinach (silka/to remove) that all our enemies shall be removed.


On the first day of Rosh Hashanah (or the second day, when the first coincides with Shabbos), it is customary to recite tashlich during the afternoon by a natural body of water. Should this not be possible, or, should one’s level of concentration be greater when reciting tashlich in a smaller forum, tashlich may be recited after Rosh Hashanah, until Hoshanah Rabah.

One should try to refrain from sleeping during the afternoons of Rosh Hashanah
unless one’s waking moments would be spent in idle conversation.


During the interval days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, i.e. the Aseres Yemai Teshuvah, several additions and changes are inserted into the Shemonah Esrai to underscore our recognition of G-d as the King of Kings, judging our request for life and prosperity. One should be careful to recite all Tefilos directly from the Siddur, so as not to err or delete.


Though only males over the age of thirteen are halachically required to hear the shofar, women have historically made a point of hearing it, as well. Should one not be able to be present in Shul, a shai’loh should be posed to the Rav.


Because the two days of Rosh Hashanah are considered a single halachic day, the recitation of shehechiyanu on the second night is questionable. Therefore, during Kiddush, one should wear a new article of clothing or set a new fruit on the table, bearing in mind its newness while reciting the b’rachah of shehechiyanu.


On the afternoon before Yom Kippur, kapparos, meaning substitutes of atonement, is recited, with either a rooster or hen (depending upon the gender of the individual). It is then slaughtered and customarily given to poor people. The more prevalent custom today, however, is to recite kapparos using money which is then donated to the poor. Mincha along with Viddui (confession) should be davened (if possible, with a minyan) before the last meal prior to the fast.

Men should attend the mikvah immediately before minchah or after the seudah hamafsekes.

The special prayer of Zachai should be recited before Kol Nidre and men should
arrive early to Shul while it is yet day, to put on one’s tallis with a b’rachah.
The “kittel” has been accepted as the most proper article of clothing to be worn by adult males on Yom Kippur.


Candles are lit at home prior to coming to shul. The b'rachah is l'hadlik ner shel yom hakippurim and shehechiyanu, unless a woman is accustomed to reciting the shehechiyanu in shul before Ma'ariv.

It is customary to light yahrzeit candle(s) for deceased relatives, and married men customarily light an additional candle as well (unrelated to deceased relatives).


The following activities are prohibited

Any of the 39 forbidden melachos of Shabbos, in addition to
• Eating & drinking,
• Washing oneself,
• Anointing oneself with any form of ointment & lotions, etc.,
• Wearing leather shoes and marital relations.


Upon arising in the morning and after washroom use, one should wash his hands till the knuckles.


Yom Kippur concludes with the shofar blast AND tefillat ma'ariv (required for men).

In havdalah no Birchas B’somim (spices) is recited.

The ner (havdalah candle) must be kindled from a fire that was in existence during Yom Kippur, kindled prior to the fast. The yahrzeit candle should not be used.

It is a minhag to begin building the sukkah on Motzaei Yom Kippur, after one has eaten.


Sick on Yom Kippur? States the Mishnah B’rurah (Orach Chayim 4218, s”k 5) “The Poskim (decisors of Jewish Law) have written – if a sick person wishes to act severely and fast, notwithstanding his obvious need for food, to him do G-d’s words apply, “surely will I [hold you] account[able] for your blood.” (Genesis 9:5) Not all people, unfortunately, are well enough to fast – even on Yom Kippur.

Such people are not only exempt from doing so, but are not permitted to endanger their lives in the attempt. I once turned to a member’s aged, frail parent and forcefully informed him that he was going about his avodah, his Yom Kippur service of HaShem, incorrectly. “Your avodah”, I told him, “is to daven with all your heart and soul, fueled by the eating you MUST do, taken in specific, regimented amounts (if possible, according to halachik guidance). Your eating is unquestionably not alien to, but, rather an actual part of your Yom Kippur service of HaShem.”

If you are taking serious medication and/or are instructed by your physician to eat on Yom Kippur, don’t simply ignor his/her words. Please ask a sh’ailoh and don’t assume. Assumptions are often

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