The Simanim that are eaten on RH

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The Simanim-Foods of significance that are eaten on Rosh Hashanah:[1]

One should be accustomed to eat[2] the following foods on Rosh Hashanah:

  • Karti [Leek][3]
  • Silka/Tradin [Beets][4]
  • Tamri [Dates][5]
  • Kara [Squash][6]
  • Rubya/Tilsan:[7] The Rubya, which refers to Tilsan, is eaten as it means “many” in Yiddish. [Some[8] say this refers to “Meheren” which is a carrot. Others[9] say this refers to a beet or other red herb substance. Many[10] argue on this opinion. Many[11] consider this the “Lubya” bean, which is the Cowpea legume, and so is the custom of various communities. Others[12] consider this Chilba [Fenugreek]. In modern Hebrew the Rubya refers to the cowpea been while the Tilsan refers to Clover.
  • “Many” [carrots]:[13] Similar to the Rubya, all vegetables that are etymologically rooted to the word “many” in others languages are to be eaten by all the inhabitants of the native countries in which that language is spoken, each country according to their language. [Carrots are called “Meheren” in Yiddish. Meheren means more in Yiddish. Thus the custom of European Jewry is to eat carrots as part of the Simanim in a traditional European dish called “Tzimis”. This especially applies according to those opinions mentioned above that interpret the Rubya as the carrot. This custom is also found amongst Yemenite Jewry.[14]]
  • Apple dipped in honey: See previous Halacha!
  • Fish:[15]Some [are accustomed to] eat fish to signify that we should multiply like fish. The fish is not to be cooked in vinegar.
  • רימון/Pomegranate: [16] Some have the custom to eat [sweet[17]] Rimonim as an omen that we should multiply our merits like the seeds of the Rimon. [Practically this is the widespread custom today.[18] One is to eat a Kezayis of the Rimon. The Rimon is to be eaten after Hamotzi on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. It is best to eat the fruit in the beginning of the meal, rather than the end. When eaten on the first night, as is suggested, if it is a new fruit the blessing of Shehechiyanu is said. However in such a case the fruit should not be brought to the table until after Kiddush in order so one is able to say a separate blessing of Shehechiyanu over the Rimon without any question.[19]]
  • A head of a ram:[20] One is to eat the head of a ram[21] in commemoration of the ram of Yitzchak. If the head of a ram is not available, one should eat from the head of a sheep. If this too is not available one is to eat any other available head [such as the head of a fish or chicken[22]] as an omen that we should be the head and not the tail.[23] Some Poskim[24] write that if there are no heads available of any species one should try to at least eat the meat of a ram in commemoration of Yitzchak.]
  • Other Simanim: See footnote for a list of Simanim mentioned in other Poskim.[25]

 

Saying the Yehi Ratzon:[26]

Upon eating each of the Simanim a particular Yehi Ratzon prayer relating to that food is to be recited.[27] [Practically however the Chabad custom is to only recite the Yehi Ratzon upon eating the apple. It is not recited upon eating any of the other Simanim.[28]]

When is the Yehi Ratzon to be recited, before or after the eating?[29] All the Simanim that require a blessing over them within the meal, such as apples and dates, the request [of Yehi Ratzon] is to be recited after the initial eating of the food as it is forbidden to make an interval between the blessing and the eating.[30] [Practically however the Chabad custom is to recite the Yehi Ratzon prior to the eating as explained in the previous Halacha.]

 

Summary of the Simanim:

  1. Karti [Leek]
  2. Silka/Tradin [Beets]
  3. Tamri [Dates]
  4. Kara [Squash]
  5. Rubya/Tilsan: Carrot/Tzimis [Ashkenazim] Lubya bean [Sefaradim]
  6. Apple dipped in honey
  7. Fish
  8. Sweet Rimonim
  9. Head of a ram:

 

The purpose of the Simanim:[31]

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].

 

Seeing the Simanim:[32]

If for whatever reason one is unable to eat the Simanim he should nevertheless bring them to the table, and at least look at them during the meal for a good omen.[33]

 

The order of the Simanim:

The Chabad custom is to first eat the apple dipped in honey.[34] [See previous Halacha in Q&A] Others[35] however list the following order: One says the blessing over dates[36] and one then eats: Silka/beets; Karti/Leek; Kara/Squash; Rubya/carrot/cowpea; Rimon; head of ram; apple with honey.

 

Q&A

Is one to recite a blessing over the Simanim eaten during the meal?

All the Simanim of fruits [Rimon; apple; dates] are to have a blessing of Haeitz recited over them. A single blessing of Haeitz covers all the fruits.[37] However the Simanim which are vegetables are not to have a blessing recited over them as they are included within the blessing over the meal.[38] Nevertheless some Poskim[39] rule a blessing of Hadama is to be said over those vegetables that are not normal stables of a meal.

 

When are the Simanim to be eaten?

The apple is to be eaten immediately after Hamotzi, in the beginning of the meal.[40]

 

Are the Simanim eaten also during the meal of the second night of Rosh Hashanah?

Many Poskim[41] rule that the Simanim are to be eaten also on the second night of Rosh Hashanah. Others[42] however rule that it is not necessary to eat the Simanim on the second night[43] and so is the widespread custom[44], and so is the Chabad custom.[45]

 

Are the Simanim eaten also during the day meal?

Some Poskim[46] write that if available, the Simanim are to be eaten also during the day meal of Rosh Hashanah. [Practically the widespread custom is to only eat the foods by the first night.[47]]

 

Q&A on the Rimon

How much of the Rimon is to be eaten?[48]

One is to eat a Kezayis of the Rimon.

 

When is the Rimon to be eaten?

The Rimon is to be eaten on the first night of Rosh Hashanah.[49] It is to be eaten after washing hands and Hamotzi[50], in the beginning of the meal, rather than the end.[51]

 

Does one say a Shehechiyanu over the Rimon?

When eating the Rimon on the first night, as stated above, if the Rimon is a new fruit then the blessing of Shehechiyanu needs to be recited prior to eating it.[52] In such a case the fruit should not be brought to the table until after Kiddush in order so one is able to say a separate blessing of Shehechiyanu over the Rimon without any question.[53] Alternatively one can have in mind to include the Rimon within the Shehechiyanu recited by Kiddush and then eat it right away after Hamotzi [and the apple].[54]

 


[1] Admur 583/1-5; Michaber 583/1; The Talmudic source of the Simanim is found in Gemara Horiyos 12a. The Gemara mentions the following Simanim: Kara Rubya; Karty; Silka; Tamri. It does not mention the apple, ram, or fish.

[2] Michaber 583/1; Admur 583/1; Tur 583

Other Opinions: In some versions of the Gemara Horiyos 12a the wording is “to look” at the Simanim and not to eat them. [Mordechai and Meiri in Gemara ibid; Machzor Vitri; Shibulei Haleket 283; Beis Yosef 583] However in Shulchan Aruch the wording is to eat. [Birkeiy Yosef 583/1; Kaf Hachaim 583/6] However the practical ramification is 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. [Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[3] 583/1; This vegetable is listed first in Admur ibid however in Michaber ibid it is listed after Rubya. Likewise neither mention it in the order of the Gemara ibid [listed above]. Veztaruch Iyun! See Divrei Yatziv 2/252-253; Piskeiy Teshuvos 583 footnote 11

Reason: It is eaten as a sign that all our enemies should be cut off [Kareis]. [ibid] This refers mainly to our enemies in Heaven which are the prosecuting angels. Thus we are praying that they should not come and prosecute against us on the Day of Judgment. [Kaf Hachaim 583/11; Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 4] See Kaf Hachaim 583/25 that this means that our enemies should be unable to return and prosecute, while the Temarim represent that they should cease to exist.

[4] 583/1; Admur ibid writes that the Silka refers to the Tardin. This matches the Tered which is the beet. [Otzer Hageonim Rav Haiy Gaon R”H 92] Some however say this refers to spinach, and so is the custom of many Sefaradim. [Ben Ish Chaiy Naso 2/8]

Reason: It is eaten as an omen that our enemies should be scattered away from us [Yistaleik]. [ibid]

[5] 583/1

Reason: It is eaten as an omen that our enemies should cease to exist [Yitmu]. [ibid]

[6] 583/1; This is referred to as Deluim which are vegetables from the squash family [squash; pumpkin; zucchini]. [Otzer Hageonim Rav Haiy Gaon R”H 92]

Reason: It is eaten as an omen that the evil decrees should be torn [Koreia] apart and only our merits should be read [Yikra]. [ibid]

[7] 583/1

Reason: It is eaten as an omen that we should increase our merits [Ribuiy]. [ibid]

[8] Kitzur SHU”A 129/9 [“Mehren” (Rubya)]

[9] Beis David 376 brought in Birkeiy Yosef 583/3; Kaf Hachaim 583/10 [“A herb which is red and the dyers use its water for dyeing”]. Perhaps this is the source for those that are accustomed to take the red cabbage as part of the Simanim. [see Pekudas Elazar 583]

[10] Birkeiy Yosef 583/2; Machazik Bracha 583/1; brought in Kaf Hachaim 583/10

[11] Birkeiy Yosef 583/2 [so is custom of Jerusalem]; Machazik Bracha 583/1; Meiri [the legume called Patzuli]; Rashbatz R”H 25a in name of Rav Hai Gaon [he took the Egyptian bean called the Lubya]; Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 4; Kaf Hachaim 583/10 brings Birkeiy Yosef and concludes from other sources it is evident that the Lubya and Rubya are two different foods, although concludes that the custom is like the Birkeiy Yosef.

[12] Halichos Teiman p. 12

[13] 583/1; M”A 583; Elya Raba 583/2; M”E 583/2; M”B 583/1; Kaf Hachaim 583/8

[14] Halichos Teiman p. 12

[15] 583/2; Abudarham; M”A 583

Other Opinions: The Rashbatz writes against eating fish on the night of Rosh Hashanah as the word “Dag” can also mean worry and one is thus to avoid eating a food that can have negative connotation. [Birkeiy Yosef 583/5; Machazik Bracha 583/3; Kaf Hachaim 583/9; See Ruach Chaim 583/5] Nevertheless if Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos one is not to refrain from eating fish even according to this opinion. [Ruach Chaim ibid; Kaf Hachaim ibid] The Rashal writes that he received from his grandfather that he refrained from eating fish on R”H in order to diminish his physical pleasure in a specific matter and remember the day of judgment. This would prevent him from coming to light headed behavior. [brought in Bach 591; M”A 591]

[16] 583/4; Rama 583/1; This custom is not mentioned in Michaber. See Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 5 that one is to avoid eating Rimonim and other sour fruits.  

[17] Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 4

[18] Sefer Haminhagim p. 118 [English]; So was the Rebbe’s custom and is the custom of Chassidim. [See Otzer Minhagei Chabad 140]

[19] See Q&A for the sources and explanation of all the above

[20] 583/5; Michaber 583/2 [eat the head of a sheep]; Sefer Haminhagim p. 118 [English] that so is our custom.

The reason: There are two reasons for using a head a) to commemorate the ram of Yitzchak and b) to be the head and not the tale. [See footnotes below that it is implied from the wording in Admur that the main reason is the first reason and the second reason is only secondary.] The practical ramification of these reasons is a) regarding if a head is not available of any species and one has ram meat available. According to the first reason the ram meat is to be used. And b) whether one may use any head or specifically the head of a ram. [Mateh Yehuda 583/2; Kaf Hachaim 583/24]

Dipping the head in honey: Some Poskim write that one is to dip the head into honey. [Beis Yosef 583 in name of Hagahos Ashri; Tashbatz in name of Maharam; Mahril, brought in Bach 583; Kaf Hachaim 583/22]

[21] Admur ibid; Maharam Merothenburg brought in Tur 583; Beis Yosef 583 in name of Hagahos Ashri; Sefer Chassidim 59; M”B 583/6; Kaf Hachaim 583/22

Ruling of Michaber: The Michaber writes that “one is to eat the head of a sheep in order to emphasize the head in contrast to the tale and in commemoration of the ram of Yitzchak”. So rules also Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 4. This follows the first opinion mentioned in the Tur ibid. He does not mention the head of a ram. Thus the Michaber learns that using a head of a sheep also commemorates the ram of Yitzchak. Seemingly he also learns that the commemoration of the ram of Yitzchak is only secondary to the idea symbol of being the head and not the tail, and hence he mentions this symbol first. However it seems from Admur and the other Poskim ibid that the main emphasis of taking the head, is to commemorate the ram of Yitzchak and not the idea of being the head. Hence one is initially specifically to take the head of a ram. It is only in a time of need that we take any head for the symbol of being the head and not the tale. [This is implied from Admur ibid which writes only the idea of commemoration regarding the head of the ram and only when discussing other heads does he bring the reason of it being a symbol. However Tzaruch Iyun as if so one would be able to take any part of the ram and not only the meat, hence we see even regarding the ram Admur already hinted to the reason he brings at the end.]

[22] Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 4 [it is better to use the head of a male chicken].

[23] Admur ibid; M”A 583/3; Elya Raba 583/4; P”M 583 A”A 3; Chayeh Adam 159/6; M”E 583/3; M”B 583/7; Kaf Hachaim 583/23

[24] Mateh Yehuda 583/2; Kaf Hachaim 583/24

[25] Some were accustomed to eat Kishuin/zucchini as it cools off the body and prevents one from Hergel Davar. [Drashos Mahril R”H; Kneses Hagedola 583/2; Elya Raba 583/3]; Some are accustomed to eat the lungs of an animal being it is a very light food. [Tur] Alternatively it is eaten being it gives power [lit. shines] to the eyes. [Kol Bo 64; Darkei Moshe 583/1] Some were accustomed to say a special prayer upon eating the lungs, asking that our eyes be able to see the Maor of the Torah. [Ruach Chaim 583/3] See Kaf Hachaim 583/15

[26] 583/1; Michaber 583/1

Background:

In the Gemara [Horiyos 12a] the saying of Yehi Ratzon, or any prayer, is not mentioned and rather the actual eating of the food is the Siman [omen]. [Beis Yosef in explanation of Tur; Kaf Hachaim 583/11] However a number of Rishonim and Achronim record this custom. [Mordechai in name of Rav Haiy Gaon, brought in Beis Yosef ibid; Abudarham p. 266; Kol Bo 64, brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid] Some record to simply say the omen [i.e. “Yarbeh Zechuyoseinu”] and not the Yehi Ratzon. [Mordechai ibid] Others record to say it as a prayer of Yehi Ratzon. [Abudarham ibid] Michaber and Admur ibid rule that a specific request, beginning with the words Yehi Ratzon, is to be said after each food asking the request behind the specific food.

Yehi Ratzon with Hashem’s name: According to Admur in the Siddur [and so is implied from his Shulchan Aruch 583/1] the Yehi Ratzon is recited without mentioning G-d’s name. So rules also Kitzur SH”A 129/9; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 707; However there are Poskim that write on is to recite the Yehi Ratzon with Hashem’s name [i.e. Yehi Ratzon Milifanecha Hashem Elokeinu Velokei Avoseinu…”]. [Siddur Yaavetz, Beis Yosef, Kol Bo; Abudarham; M”B 583/2; M”E 583/2] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 583 footnote 3 that negates the custom of saying the Yehi Ratzon with Hashem’s name only by the apple and not by the other Simanim as the apple is not written in the Gemara.

[27] 583/1: “Upon eating carrots and the like one should say “May it be your will that our merits increase”. Upon eating the Karti/leeks one says “May it be your will that our enemies are cut off”. Upon eating the Silka/beets one says “May it be your will that our enemies be dispersed”. Upon eating the Temari/dates one says “May it be your will that our enemies are annihilated”. Upon eating the Kara/squash one says “May it be your will that you tear the [evil] decree from upon us, and that you read before you our merits”. [ibid] Upon eating the Rimon one says “May our merits increase like a Rimon”. [583/4]

[28] Sefer Haminhagim p. 118 [English]; Reshimos 4 p. 8; See Otzer Minhagei Chabad 143; See background above that in the Gemara there is no Yehi Ratzon mentioned, and so learns Beis Yosef in Tur.

[29] 583/3

[30] However those foods that do not require a blessing to be said [such as all the fruits eaten after the blessing is said on the apple] are to have the Yehi Ratzon recited prior to the eating of the fruit. [Kaf Hachaim 583/16; Alef Hamagen 583/13]

[31] Shlah 214; Elya Raba 583/1; M”E 583/2; M”B 583/2; Kaf Hachaim 582/5

[32] Kaf Hachaim 583/6

[33] The reason: In some versions of the Gemara Horiyos 12a the wording is “to look” at the Simanim and not to eat them. Thus 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. [Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[34] There is no record of what other Simanim Chabad is accustomed to use other than the Rimon and rams head. There is also no record as to the order of these Simanim according to Chabad custom.

[35] Kaf Hachaim 583/25; See also Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 4

The reason: This order is followed in order so the requests have a set order: We request that the Divine prosecuting angels be removed, that they will be unable to return and that they be annihilated. Once they have been destroyed we request that the evil decree be torn, and afterwards that our merits increase. Afterwards we ask to be the head and not the tail. When all the above is accomplished we eat the sweet apple to emphasize that through this we will have a sweet year. [Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[36] As they are sweet and from the Shiva Minim. [ibid]

[37] Kaf Hachaim 583/25; This applies even if the fruit was not yet on the table, so long as it was already intended to be eaten during the meal. If however one did not plan on eating the fruit and it was then decided to eat it, after the Haeitz was already recited, then a new blessing of Haeitz is to be recited if there are no more fruits remaining on the table. [See Seder Birchas Hanehnin 9/5]

[38] Kaf Hachaim 583/12 in name of Mateh Yehuda [however see Kaf Hachaim 583/25]; Admur 583/3 states that “All the Simanim that require a blessing over them within the meal such as apples and dates” this implies that according to Admur a blessing of Hadama is not said over the vegetables.

[39] Alef Hamagen 583/13 [all the vegetables of the Simanim require a blessing prior]; Machzor Hamefurash in name of Rav SZ”A states that the Kara [squash or pumpkin] is not a normal stable of a meal and hence the blessing of Hadama is to be recited. However see Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2/269 which argues on this claim. Some suggest taking a fruit that receives a Hadama blessing [bananas; cantaloupe; watermelon] having in mind all the Hadama Simanim in order to avoid any question. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 583 footnote 13]

[40] Admur in Siddur [“beginning of meal”]; Tur 583 [“in beginning of meal”]; Sefer Haminhagim p. 118 [“beginning of meal”]; Drashos Mahril R”H [“after Kiddush”]; Siddur Arizal of Rav Shabsi [“immediately after Kiddush”]

[41] Elya Raba 583/1; Machazik Bracha 583/2; Zechor Leavraham 583 [letter ר]; Shaareiy Teshuvah 583/1; Bigdei Yesha; Yifei Laleiv 2/8; Mateh Efraim 583/2; 600/14; Kaf Hachaim 583/7; Ben Ish Chaiy Netzavim 4; See Sefarim mentioned in Otzer Minhagei Chabad 150

[42] Siddur Admur [specifically writes “It is customary to eat the apple with honey on the first night”] Rav Hillel Paritcher in Pelach Harimon Vayeira p. 61:4 in name of Tzemach Tzedek [“This is the reason we are accustomed to eat the apple on the first night of Rosh Hashanah”];  Bnei Yissachar Tishrei 2/11 [not the custom even amongst the scholarly Rabbis, and not brought in any previous Poskim]; Ashel Avraham 583 [not the custom]; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 707; Alef Hamagen 583/18; Otzer Minhagei Chabad 150

[43] The reason: It is implied from the Gemara that the Simanim are only required by “the beginning of the year” which is the first of Tishrei. Likewise there are reasons based on Kabala that it is not necessary to eat them on the second night. [Bnei Yissachar ibid]

[44] Poskim ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 583/6

[45] Otzer Minhagei Chabad 150; implication of Siddur Admur ibid; Rav Hillel Paritcher ibid; The Rebbe was once brought Rimonim on the second night and was surprised as to why it was not brought on the first night, and he refused to eat them. [Otzer ibid]

[46] Mateh Efraim 597/4; Ben Ish Chai Netzavim 4 [that so is the custom in his home]; Kaf Hachaim 583/ 7; Piskeiy Teshuvos 583/6

[47] Otzer Minhagei Chabad 150; implication of Siddur Admur ibid

[48] Hisvadyos 5751 Vol. 4 p. 323; Shulchan Menachem 3/86 “Since on Rosh Hashanah the verse states that one is to eat “good foods… Manos”, certainly one must eat a full measurement [and the minimum amount of food to be considered “eating” is a Kezayis].”

[49] Admur 583/4 [that it is one of the Simanim]; Custom of Rebbe [Otzer Minhagei Chabad 140 and 144] The Rebbe was once brought Rimonim on the second night and was surprised as to why it was not brought on the first night, and he refused to eat them. [Otzer 140]; Accordingly, the Rimon should not be used as the Shehechiyanu fruit on second night being it should be eaten on first night as part of the Simanim. [See Otzer Minhagei Chabad 142-144]

Other customs: Some have the custom to use the Rimon as the Shehechiyanu fruit and hence eat it only on the second night. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 600/1]

[50] Hisvadyos 5751 Vol. 4 p. 323 [brought in Shulchan Menachem 3/86; Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 5/69]

The reason: In order to avoid question regarding the before and after blessing. [ibid]

[51] Rebbe ibid

[52] One first recites the blessing of Shehechiyanu and only afterwards the blessing of the fruit. [Seder Birchas Hanehnin 11/12]

[53] Hiskashrus 947; As otherwise perhaps it was included within the Shehechiyanu of Kiddush.

[54] See Otzer Minhagei Chabad 143 that in 1974 the Rebbe did not recite a Shehechiyanu over the Rimon saying that he included it within the Shehechiyanu of Kiddush.

 

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