From Rav Elyada Goldvicht of the SCP program/ OU. These notes were written for OU Israel’s Torah Tidbits.

INTRODUCTION 

Given the unique nature of this yearโ€™s Rosh Hashana davening, with many people davening in smaller minyanim or even ื‘ื™ื—ื“ื•ืช, we have compiled a step-by-step chronological overview of the halachos that pertain to RH (and specifically to RH during COVID). May Hashem bless this upcoming year with health, happiness and success for ื›ืœืœ ื™ืฉืจืืœ and the entire world! Shana Tova! 

  1. Erev-RH and Both Nights of RH 

ื”ืชืจืช ื ื“ืจื™ื 

There is a custom based on the ื’ืžืจื ื ื“ืจื™ื (ื›ื’:) to perform ื”ืชืจืช ื ื“ืจื™ื โ€“ nullification of vows, on Erev-RH in order to enter the new year without violating the prohibition of transgressing vows i. Any three men above Bar-Mitzvah are qualified to form a Beis-Din and nullify ื ื“ืจื™ื of others even if they are relatives with one another and to the one who is nullifying his vows.ii If you do not understand the Hebrew it is best to recite it in a language that you understand.iii One can perform ื”ืชืจืช ื ื“ืจื™ื over Zoom as long as the three members of the Beis-Din are sitting together and they see the person reciting the ื”ืชืจื” (i.e. his camera is on).iv With regard to women, some say that if she is married her husband should be her messenger for ื”ืชืจืช ื ื“ืจื™ื and add the words โ€œand this is also for my wifeโ€,v while others say that it is best for women to rely on the ื”ืชืจืช ื ื“ืจื™ื of ื›ืœ ื ื“ืจื™ on YK.vi 

MIKVAH 

The Rama writes that there is a custom for men to go to the Mikvah on ErevRH.vii Due to Corona and potential overcrowding in the Mikvah, if there is no safe place to go to the Mikvah one can take a shower instead.viii The shower should be long enough for 16 liters to be poured on oneโ€™s head.ix 

ื”ื“ืœืงืช ื ืจื•ืช 

Married women (as well as single men/women at home)x light candles for Shabbos and RH.xi (If the wife is in isolation her husband can light for her in her regular spot. Alternatively, she can light in her room if she is eating there). The ื‘ืจื›ื” recited on the 1st night is “ืœื”ื“ืœื™ืง ื ืจ ืฉืœ ืฉื‘ืช ื•ื™ื•”ื˜”. Some women also have the custom to recite “ืฉื”ื—ื™ื™ื ื•” when lighting the candles while others do not and rely on the “ืฉื”ื—ื™ื™ื ื•” during kiddush. One can follow their family custom.xii Ashkenazim first light the candle and then recite the ื‘ืจื›ื”, while Sephardim first recite the ื‘ืจื›ื” and then light the candles.xiii Being that the first day of RH is on Shabbos one must light before ืฉืงื™ืขื”. On the second night of RH, candles are also lit but only after ืฆืืช ื”ื›ื•ื›ื‘ื™ื and only from a preexisting lit candle. Ideally, these candles should be prepared before YT. Before lighting the candles on the 2nd night, the woman should say “ื‘ืจื•ืš ื”ืžื‘ื“ื™ืœ ื‘ื™ืŸ ืงื•ื“ืฉ ืœืงื•ื“ืฉ”.xiv Additionally, when lighting the candles, the woman should have in mind that the candles will be used as the ื”ื‘ื“ืœื” candle.xv The ื‘ืจื›ื” recited on the 2nd night is “ืœื”ื“ืœื™ืง ื ืจ ืฉืœ ื™ื•”ื˜” and both Ashkenazim and Sephardim recite the ื‘ืจื›ื” before lighting the candles.xvi As on the first night, some women have the custom to recite a “ืฉื”ื—ื™ื™ื ื•”, but ideally, they should only recite the ื‘ืจื›ื” if they will be eating a new fruit that night or if they are wearing a new dress that night. When reciting the “ืฉื”ื—ื™ื™ื ื•” they should have in mind that the ื‘ืจื›ื” should incorporate RH and the new fruit or the new dress.xvii (If they have a new fruit, they should wait for kiddush before eating the fruit). After lighting the candles, one is not allowed to blow out the match.xviii  

ืงื‘ืœืช ืฉื‘ืช  ื‘ืžื” ืžื“ืœื™ืงื™ืŸ  ื›ื’ื•ื•ื ื 

There are various customs with regard to reciting ืงื‘ืœืช ืฉื‘ืช and “ืœื›ื” ื“ื•ื“ื™” on Shabbos that falls out on ื™ื•”ื˜. Most who daven ื ื•ืกื— ืืฉื›ื ื– omit it and only say “ืžื–ืžื•ืจ ืฉื™ืจ ืœื™ื•ื ื”ืฉื‘ืช”, while those who daven ื ื•ืกื— ืกืคืจื“ say “ืžื–ืžื•ืจ ืœื“ื•ื“” and parts of xix“ืœื›ื” ื“ื•ื“ื™”. The recital of “ื‘ืžื” ืžื“ืœื™ืงื™ืŸ” is omitted,xx and there is a ืžื—ืœื•ืงืช whether to recite “ื›ื’ื•ื•ื ื” on RH that falls out on Shabbos.xxi On the second night of RH “ื•ืชื•ื“ื™ืขื ื•” is recited during the night Amidaxxii and if you forgot to recite it you do not repeat the Amidah.xxiii 

ื‘ืจื›ื” ืžืขื™ืŸ ืฉื‘ืข  

The congregation recites “ื•ื™ื›ื•ืœื•” out loud and standing after the Amidah.xxiv If you are davening in a newly formulated โ€œpop-up minyanโ€ (i.e., not in shul) that does not meet regularly the ื‘ืจื›ื” of “ืžื’ืŸ ืื‘ื•ืช” is omitted.xxv If the minyan meets regularly (even if it is not in a shul and even if they only meet once a week on Shabbos) “ืžื’ืŸ ืื‘ื•ืช” is recited.xxvi When reciting “ืžื’ืŸ ืื‘ื•ืช” in shul or in a permanent minyan, “ื”ืžืœืš ื”ืงื•ื“ืฉ” is said instead of “ื”ื-ืœ ื”ืงื“ื•ืฉ”xxvii. If the ื—ื–ืŸ forgets to say “ื”ืžืœืš ื”ืงื“ื•ืฉ” he should only go back if he has not yet finished the ื‘ืจื›ื”, but if he has finished the ื‘ืจื›ื” he should not go back.xxviii  

GREETING A FREIND 

When greeting a friend on RH night and up until ื—ืฆื•ืช on the 1st day of RH one should say “ืœืฉื ื” ื˜ื•ื‘ื” ืชื›ืชื‘ ื•ืชื—ืชื” and to a woman one says “ืœืฉื ื” ื˜ื•ื‘ื” ืชื›ืชื‘ื™ ื•ืชื—ืชืžื™”. After that time, one should only say “ื—ื’ ืฉืžื—” or โ€œgood Yom Tovโ€.xxix Some have the custom to say “ืœืฉื ื” ื˜ื•ื‘ื” ืชื›ืชื‘ ื•ืชื—ืชื” on the second night as well.xxx  

KIDDUSH 

The ื‘ืจื›ื” of “ืฉื”ื—ื™ื™ื ื•” is recited on both nights of RH. On the second night of RH, one should wear a new garment or place new fruits on the table before kiddush. When reciting the “ืฉื”ื—ื™ื™ื ื•” one should have in mind that it goes on both RH and the new fruit.xxxi This year, when the 2nd night is also MotzaeiShabbos, ื”ื‘ื“ืœื” is recited during kiddushxxxii (see your ืžื—ื–ื•ืจ). When reciting the “ื‘ื•ืจื ืžืื•ืจื™ ื”ืืฉ” it is best to place a match together with the YT candlesxxxiii and after looking at your fingernails place the match down without extinguishing itxxxiv (allowing it to extinguish by itself). Some prefer not to add a match and recite the “ื‘ื•ืจื ืžืื•ืจื™ ื”ืืฉ” on the YT candlesxxxv (ideally you should have in mind when lighting them that they will be used for ื”ื‘ื“ืœื”, as mentioned above), but one should not recite the ื‘ืจื›ื” on a ื™ืืจืฆื™ื™ื˜ candle.xxxvi If you forgot to recite ื”ื‘ื“ืœื” during kiddush you should stop the meal, fill up a glass of wine, recite the “ื‘ื•ืจื ืžืื•ืจื™ ื”ืืฉ” and “ื”ืžื‘ื“ื™ืœ ื‘ื™ืŸ ืงื•ื“ืฉ ืœืงื•ื“ืฉ”. If you were planning to drink wine during the meal you do not need to repeat the “ื‘ื•ืจื ืคืจื™ ื”ื’ืคืŸ” at the beginning of ื”ื‘ื“ืœื”, but if you were not planning on drinking wine during the meal you should recite a “ื‘ื•ืจื ืคืจื™ ื”ื’ืคืŸ” when beginning to recite ื”ื‘ื“ืœื”.xxxvii 

ืกื™ืžื ื™ื 

There is a custom based on the ื’ืžืจื ื›ืจื™ืชื•ืช (ื•.) to eat specific fruits and vegetables on RH as a good omen and prayer for the upcoming year.xxxviii The ืกื™ืžื ื™ื are eaten after washing oneโ€™s hands, reciting ื”ืžื•ืฆื™ื, and eating bread.xxxix The ื‘ืจื›ืช ื”ืขืฅ should be recited on a date (since it is from the ืฉื‘ืขืช ื”ืžื™ื ื™ื and closest to the word “ืืจืฅ” in the verse) and if one does not have a date then it should be recited on a pomegranate.xl If one does not have either, the ื‘ืจื›ืช ื”ืขืฅ should be recited on the apple. One should say the “ื™ื”ื™ ืจืฆื•ืŸ” that pertain to each fruit/vegetable with Hashemโ€™s name (i.e., “ื™ื”ื™ ืจืฆื•ืŸ ืžืœืคื ื™ืš ืื“ื -ื™ ื-ืœื•ื”ื™ื ื• ื•ื-ืœื•ื”ื™ ืื‘ื•ืชื™ื ื• ื•ื›ื•”).xli After reciting the ื‘ืจื›ืช ื”ืขืฅ and the ื‘ืจื›ืช ื”ืื“ืžื” on the first fruit/vegetable that you are eating, you should only recite the “ื™ื”ื™ ืจืฆื•ืŸ” after tasting and swallowing the fruit/vegetable in order that there is no ื”ืคืกืง between the ื‘ืจื›ื” and the eating.xlii When reciting the ื‘ืจื›ืช ื”ืขืฅ/ืื“ืžื” you should have in mind that it cover all the other fruits and vegetables of the ืกื™ืžื ื™ื.xliii Most have the custom to have ืกื™ืžื ื™ื on the second night of RH as well.xliv 

  1. RH Day 

Shofar 

This year, the 1st day of RH falls out on Shabbos when we do not blow ืฉื•ืคืจ and one is forbidden from moving it at all.xlv 

The Torah teaches us “ื™ื•ื ืชืจื•ืขื” ื™ื”ื™ื” ืœื›ื” and the ื’ืžืจื ืจืืฉ ื”ืฉื ื” (ืœื’:) derives that the “ืชืจื•ืขื”” needs to heard 3 times, with a ืชืงื™ืขื” before and after it each time. Thus, ืžื“ืื•ืจื™ื™ืชื you only need to hear 9 shofar blasts. However, the Gemara is uncertain as to the exact sound that the word “ืชืจื•ืขื”” is referring to. It is either referring to what we call a ืชืจื•ืขื” today, what we call a ืฉื‘ืจื™ื today, or what we call a ืฉื‘ืจื™ื ืชืจื•ืขื” today. Therefore, in order to make sure that we are fulfilling our biblical requirement we blow a ืฉื‘ืจื™ื (with a ืชืงื™ืขื” before and after it) three times, a ืชืจื•ืขื” (with a ืชืงื™ืขื” before and after it) three times and a ืฉื‘ืจื™ื ืชืจื•ืขื” (with a ืชืงื™ืขื” before and after it) three times.xlvi All of these blasts together total 30 sounds (including the sounds of the ืชืงื™ืขื•ืช before and after each “ืชืจื•ืขื””). 30 blasts are blown before the Mussaf Amidah and are called ืชืงื™ืขื•ืช ื“ืžื™ื•ืฉื‘. Another 30 are blown during the Amidah and are called ืชืงื™ืขื•ืช ื“ืžืขื•ืžื“ (some locations blow 30 blasts only during ื—ื–ืจืช ื”ืฉ”ืฅ while some blow an additional 30 during the silent Amidah as well). There is a custom to blow another 40 (for those who did not blow 30 during the silent Amidah) in order to blow a total of 100 blasts on RH.xlvii Congregations that are worried about excess exposure in shul during the pandemic (or if the next minyan is about to begin in the same location) do not need to blow the final 40 blasts. These congregations should recite the “ืœืžื ืฆื— ืœื‘ื ื™ ืงืจื—” (that is said before the Shofar blowing) once.xlviii (If possible, try to hear the additional blasts at some point during RH day.) 

The congregation and the Shofar blower should remain standing during the recital of the ื‘ืจื›ื” and during the actual Shofar blasts.xlix The ื‘ืขืœ ืชื•ืงืข recites two blessings before blowing the Shofar: “ืœืฉืžื•ืข ืงื•ืœ ืฉื•ืคืจ” and “ืฉื”ื—ื™ื™ื ื•”. The ื‘ืขืœ ืชื•ืงืข should have in mind to be  ืžื•ืฆื™ื the congregation, and they should have in mind to be ื™ื•ืฆื.l The gabbay should announce that you are not allowed to speak until the end of the ืชืงื™ืขื•ืช.li If you are walking or sitting at home and hear the Shofar blasts from a shul nearby you fulfill your obligation if you had in mind to be ื™ื•ืฆื because the ื‘ืขืœ ืชื•ืงืข has in mind to be ืžื•ืฆื™ื all that hear.lii Ideally, the outdoor minyanim should be spread out in a manner where one minyan will not hear the shofar blasts from another minyan. If you do hear a shofar blast from another minyan while your ื‘ืขืœ ืชื•ืงืข is blowing you need to have in mind not be ื™ื•ืฆื with the ืชืงื™ืขื•ืช from the other minyan or you will not be ื™ื•ืฆื.liii  

If you are blowing the shofar for another and you already fulfilled your obligation, the person being ื™ื•ืฆื should recite the ื‘ืจื›ื•ืช if he/she can.liv Sephardi women do not recite the ื‘ืจื›ื”.lv You can blow for someone who is in isolation and in a different room as long as you are blowing close to the room.lvi If you are blowing the shofar ื‘ื™ื—ื™ื“ื•ืช you should make sure not to blow in the first three hours of the day.lvii Ideally, one who is davening ื‘ื™ื—ื™ื“ื•ืช should blow the shofar before davening Musaf lviii and Musaf should not be davened within the first 3 hours (of ืฉืขื•ืช ื–ืžื ื™ื•ืช) from sunrise,lix but no later than 7 hourslx (ื‘ื“ื™ืขื‘ื“, Musaf can be davened after the 7th hour). One who is davening ื‘ื™ื—ื™ื“ื•ืช should time his Amidah to begin at the same time as his congregation.lxi   

ืžื ื—ื” ื•ืกืขื•ื“ื” ืฉืœื™ืฉื™ืช 

On the 1st day of RH this year Sephardim recite “ืฆื“ืงืชืš ืฆื“ืง” during Mincha and Ashkenazim do not.lxii One is obligated to eat ืกืขื•ื“ื” ืฉืœื™ืฉื™ืช on the first day of RH this year (just like on every Shabbos). The ืกืขื•ื“ื” ืฉืœื™ืฉื™ืช should ideally be eaten after davening Mincha and before the time of ืžื ื—ื” ืงื˜ื ื” lxiii (but may not be eaten before the time of Mincha Gedolahlxiv). If one did not have time to eat before ืžื ื—ื” ืงื˜ื ื” he/she should still eat ืกืขื•ื“ื” ืฉืœืฉื™ืช but only a little bit of bread in order to leave an appetite for the Yom Tov meal at night.lxv Sephardim have the custom to deliberately eat ืกืขื•ื“ื” ืฉืœื™ืฉื™ืช after the time of ืžื ื—ื” ืงื˜ื ื” even when Shabbos is erev-YT, but are careful not to eat a lot.lxvi  

ืชืฉืœื™ืš 

After Mincha, there is a custom of ืชืฉืœื™ืš, where one goes to the river and recites verses pertaining to ืชืฉื•ื‘ื” from ืกืคืจ ืžื™ื›ื” (ื–:ื™ื˜).lxvii There are various reasons for this custom, including the fact that the ืžื“ืจืฉ teaches that the ืฉื˜ืŸ tried drowning ืื‘ืจื”ื in a river on the way to the ืขืงื™ื“ื” and we want to remind ourselves of ืื‘ืจื”ื ืื‘ื™ื ื•โ€™s determination and devotionlxviii (and learn from it). When the 1st day of RH falls out on Shabbos some have the custom to recite ืชืฉืœื™ืš on the second day,lxix while some still say it on the first day (as long as there is an ืขื™ืจื•ื‘).lxx If there is no river nearby, you cannot leave your house due to isolation, or you prefer to avoid large gatherings, you can recite it on water in a welllxxi or even on a cup of water.lxxii  

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