From the Rav’s Desk: Having the Simanim of Rosh Hashanah on the table even if one can’t eat them

  1. Question: [Tuesday, 23rd Elul 5781]

I am allergic to several foods and have difficulty stomaching many vegetables and fruits, including some of the Simanim that are eaten on Rosh Hashanah, such as pomegranate, leaks, and carrots. Is there a point of me buying them anyways and having them on the table for the Simanim even if I won’t be able to eat them?



Yes, even if for whatever reason one is unable to eat the Simanim he should nevertheless purchase them and have them to the table on the first night of Rosh Hashanah and at least look at them during the meal for a good omen.

Explanation: The widespread custom and initial directive is specifically to eat the Simanim as a good omen, as explicitly recorded in the Shulchan Aruch and Poskim, and so is the wording in tractate Horiyos 12a [which is the source of this custom] according to some versions. However, in other versions of the Gemara Horiyos 12a, the wording is “to look” at the Simanim and not to eat them. Thus, the Achronim conclude that if one is unable to eat the Simanim, such as due to worms or health reasons, he is to nevertheless have them on his table within view. As for the benefit of simply seeing the Simanim even if one does not plan on eating them, the Poskim explain that the purpose of eating the Simanim is in order to remind the person and arouse within him feelings of repentance for him to request from G-d the matters that the Simanim represent [such as long life, children, no war etc]. Now, this remembrance can be achieved simply by looking at the Simanim, even if one does not eat them. Furthermore, Kabbalistically, one can suggest [even though I have yet to find an explicit source] that the entire idea of the Simanim and their effect is due to their root in the Sefiros of Chesed and the like, and by having them on one’s table, even if one does not eat them, one surrounds himself with Chesed can help influence him being written for a good year.


Sources: See regarding eating: Admur 583:1; Michaber 583:1; Tur 583; Horiyos 12a; See regarding looking: Mordechai and Meiri in Gemara ibid; Machzor Vitri; Shibulei Haleket 283; Beis Yosef 583:1; Birkeiy Yosef 581:1; Kaf Hachaim 582:6 See regarding thinking of their representation: Shlah 214; Elya Raba 583:1; Mateh Efraim 583:2; M”B 583:2; Kaf Hachaim 582:5-6

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