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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 3 Apr 2020 06:52 PM and ends Sat 4 Apr 2020 07:50 PM

Laws of the Yamim Noraim (5771)

כ"ד אלול ה' אלפים תש"ע

Erev Rosh Hashana

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, this year 12:18 pm).


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, after chatzos (12:15pm), (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, this year, is l'hadlik ner shel Shabbos v’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). The full havdalah, this year, is recited including Birchas B’somim (spices). The ner (havdalah candle) should 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 Halachic 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 ignore his/her words.

Please ask a sh’ailoh and don’t assume. Assumptions are often incorrect.

Succos Construction

The Sukkah walls may be constructed from any material sufficiently sturdy to withstand normal winds of the given area.

The sechach (covering) must be of vegetable origin, not subject to ritual defilement, and severed from the ground.

The Sukkah should not be built under any tree/house projection, and decorations hung from the ceiling should preferably not extend downward (including their own length) more than 31 cm.

Should the decoration be more than 31cm wide, no person should sit underneath. Questions concerning its construction should be addressed to your Rav.

Kiddush and eating in Sukkah

All males above the age of thirteen years should endeavor to eat, learn, sleep, etc., in the Sukkah for the entire seven day Yom Tov. (Women choosing to sit in the Sukkah should recite Laishev Basukkah).

On the first two nights of Succos one is obligated to eat a minimum of an olive-sized piece of bread in the Sukkah following the Kiddush, which is recited after dark. The “Kiddush order” on the first night is: (a) Blessing over the wine, (b) Kiddush sanctifying the day, (c) Laishev Basukkah, and (d) Shehechiyanu. This may be recited prior to the Birchas Laishev Basukkah on the second evening, depending on one’s custom.

Water, fruits, vegetables and anything comprised of the five grains amounting to less than an egg’s volume may be consumed outside the Sukkah, but one performs a mitzvah by eating everything in the Sukkah.


There is a biblical commandment for a male above thirteen years to lift in his hands on the first day of Succot, during the daytime, four species:

1. Esrog (citron), with or without a pitum (protuberance at opposite end of point of detachment from tree). An esrog grown with a pitum must retain the pitum throughout Yom Tov. It should be as spotless as possible, tower shaped, not punctured, not dried out and not smaller than an egg.

2. Lulav (Palm branch) spine, should be a minimum of four handbreadths (approx. 14”/35.56 cm) long. The tip should not be split, nor should the majority of leaves be split, broken off or dried out.

3. Hadasim (3) (Myrtle branches) each stem should be a minimum of 3 handbreadths long (10½”/26.67 cm), must be covered in its majority by clusters of three leaves emanating from the same point on the stem. Tips should be whole and leaves fresh.

4. Aravos (2) (Willow branches) minimum length should be 3 handbreadths, edges of leaves should be smooth not wilted. Tips should be whole and leaves fresh.

The Rabbis decreed that the minim should be taken into hand for the entire seven day period excluding Shabbos. The proper procedure for “taking the Lulav” for a right-handed person is as follows: Lift the “assembled Lulav” (Hadasim on the right side of the Lulav spine, a fraction higher than the aravos placed in the left side of lulav holder) into right hand, followed by raising the esrog in inverted fashion in one’s left hand, join the two groups together, recite the bracha (shehechiyanu added the first day), turn the esrog upright and wave them three times directionally in the following order; front, right, back, left, up & down.

The blessing should optimally be recited before one partakes of any food. Left-handed persons typically take the Lulav in their left hand and esrog in their right. One must legally own one’s own set of 4 species to fulfill one’s obligation during the first two days of Sukkos. Ashkenazik women who “bentsch Lulav” recite the proper brachos. All species - excluding the esrog - are forbidden to be handled on Shabbos and Sh’mini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.


Ya’aleh V’Yavoh is inserted in the Sh’moneh Esrei and Birchas Hamazon throughout the Yom Tov. A Hakafoh (counter-clockwise circling of the Bima) with the 4 species is held daily (except Shabbos) with seven hakofos performed on Hoshanah Rabah. Mourners do not join in these hakafos.

Mashiv Haruach U’morid Hageshem is inserted in our recitation of Sh’moneh Esrei beginning with Musaf on Sh’mini Atzeres.

On Sh’mini Atzeres, Yizkor is recited. It should be said as well by mourners in the 12 months of Aveilut.


Simchas Torah is a Yom Tov earmarked for expressing our joy with and obedience to the Torah. As such, all forms of festivities must conform to Torah-prescribed methods of rejoicing. There is absolutely no Halachic source whatsoever for consuming more than the normal Kiddush amount, appropriate to any Yom Tov. Alcohol intake is NOT a KIYUM in Simchas Ha Torah.

Rabbi Yaakov Sprung Elul 5770 September 2010

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