Halacha Guide: Rosh Hashana

The following is a Halach guide for Rosh Hashana compiled by Rabbi Shmuel Lesches, Rov of Young Yeshivah Shul in Melbourne, Australia. Click here to download a PDF version.


On Erev Rosh Hashana, one should reflect and take stock of the entire year, making all necessary corrections and utilizing the opportunity for Teshuvah.

It is a Mitzvah to immerse in a Mikvah on Erev Rosh Hashana after midday.

One should utilize all of his spare time on Erev Rosh Hashana to recite Tehillim, especially from one hour before Mincha and onwards. 

It is customary to accept upon oneself a Hiddur Mitzvah. This should be done on Erev Rosh Hashana, or on Rosh Hashana. [One should state that his acceptance is Bli Neder.]

Just like on Erev Shabbos, it is preferable to refrain from eating a proper meal once the tenth Halachic hour of the day begins, in order to properly enjoy the Yom Tov meal at night. However, one may snack in small quantities.

Prior to candle-lighting, one should give Tzedakah for the two days of Yom Tov. 

One should arrange a pre-existing flame with which to light the candles on the second night of Rosh Hashana.

The Brochos are L’Hadlik Ner Shel Yom Hazikaron, followed by Shehecheyanu. 

If eating out, one should ensure that practical benefit is derived from the candles after Yom Tov begins.

Since it is Yom Tov, if one neglected to light at the proper time, one may – and should – light candles on Yom Tov itself, from a preexisting flame.

When a man is required to light candles, he does not recite Shehecheyanu, as he will be doing so in Kiddush. [Therefore, it is best that he lights candles right before Kiddush, so that his Shehecheyanu is linked to both.] Similarly, if a woman needs to recite her own Kiddush, she does not recite Shehecheyanu in Kiddush, as she already did so at candle-lighting.

Mincha is davened at greater length than usual, as it is the last Tefillah of the year.


The Avodah of Rosh Hashana is Kabbolas Ol (accepting the yoke of Heaven). One should utilize every spare moment to say Tehillim. Throughout Rosh Hashana, and particularly on the first night, one should avoid all unnecessary idle chatter and minimize sleep.

One should not smoke on the two days of Rosh Hashana. [Of course, this is discouraged in general.]

One should be especially careful not to be angered on Rosh Hashana.


On Rosh Hashana, the third Brocho of Shmoneh Esrei has a long addition beginning with the words L’Dor V’dor. If one omitted this addition, he may go back to recite it only if he realised before saying Hashem’s name at the end of the third Brocho. Otherwise, he continues Shmoneh Esrei without going back, as long as he is sure that he concluded the Brocho with the words Hamelech Hakodosh.

If one recited the unique Rosh Hashana Nusach of the third Brocho, but is in doubt whether he concluded the Brocho with the words Hamelech Hakodosh, he may assume that he did so correctly.

One who did not say Hamelech Hakodosh: If he realized before he began the next Brocho and within the time frame it takes to say three words, he corrects his mistake. Otherwise, he must begin Shmoneh Esrei again. [The same applies if this occurs in Chazaras Hashatz, in which case Kedushah is recited again.]

If one mistakenly omitted any of the other four additions (Zochreinu, Mi Chomocha, u’Chsov, u’Vsefer Chaim), he may recite it at the place he remembers if he has not yet said Hashem’s name at the end of that Brocho. Otherwise, he continues Shmoneh Esrei and does not go back.

During Chazaras Hashatz, the congregation recites the selections of U’chsov and u’Vsefer Chaim aloud before the Chazzan.


One should use the time between Mincha and Maariv to recite Tehillim. 

Many times, the Rebbe would begin the Nigun of Avinu Malkeinu before Maariv.

L’Dovid Mizmor: It is not Chabad custom to open the Aron Hakodesh, nor to recite it verse by verse after the Chazzan. [The Rebbe Rashab states that one’s intention at this time creates a “vessel” in which to draw down Gashmiyus for the whole year.]

On the first night, we greet each other L’Shana Tova Tikasev V’Sechasem. [The grammar is applicable for greeting a male. One may use gender-appropriate grammar when greeting a female; i.e. L’Shana Tova Tikasevee V’Sechasemee.] 

After the first night of Rosh Hashana, we greet each other Gmar Chasima Tova.

A woman who needs to recite Kiddush should not say Shehecheyanu, as she already did so at candle-lighting.

From Rosh Hashana until Hoshana Rabba (inclusive), we use round Challos, and we dip it (three times) in honey. 

Apple and honey is eaten after the Challah, before the first course. The apple is sliced and dipped three times in honey. Borei Pri Ha’etz is recited while holding the apple in one’s right hand, followed by the Yehi Ratzon, before eating the apple.

When one recites Borei Pri Ha’etz, he should clearly have in mind that the Brocho includes any fruit served during the meal and at dessert. He does not make a new Brocho at the time of dessert.

Pomegranate is also eaten on the first night. It should be present at the table when the Borei Pri Ha’etz is said on the apple, and should be eaten after the apple. [If the pomegranate is a new fruit, it should be present on the table during the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush, and one should have it in mind at that time.]

It is customary to eat fish, the head of a ram (or fish), as well as Tzimmes. 

On Rosh Hashana, it is appropriate to consume meat, sweet food and drink. It is customary not to eat any foods that are bitter, sour, overly sharp, or that contain nuts or vinegar. 


If one forgets Ya’aleh Veyavo but remembers before saying Hashem’s name at the end of Bonei Yerushalayim, he goes back. If one remembered after that, but before beginning the next Brocho, he recites the extra Brocho printed in the Bentcher.  If one already began even the first word of the next Brocho, one must begin bentching again at night, but not during the daytime.

Both the Horachamon of Yom Tov and Rosh Hashana are recited, in that order.

One does not add a Hey when saying Oiseh Sholom in bentching.


Ideally, men should not eat before Shofar. If this is difficult, or there is any concern that one will not be able to concentrate during davening, he may eat and drink (preferably not Mezonos). One should not be stringent if there are health concerns.

It is especially appropriate to go to Mikvah before davening.

The Chazanim should familiarize themselves in advance with the meaning of all of the Piyuttim and Tefillos – even if they already did so the previous year. Similarly, one should train his children regarding the order of davening beforehand, so as to minimize any distractions during davening.

Shir Hamaalos (after Yishtabach): It is not Chabad custom to open the Aron Hakodesh, nor to recite it verse by verse after the Chazzan.

When the Aron Hakodosh is opened during Chazaras Hashatz, it is not obligatory to stand, since the Sefer Torah is not being moved. Some have the custom to stand. [The Rebbe was not particular about this.]

At Shacharis, the paragraph of Misoid (at the beginning of Chazaras Hashatz) and the one that follows is recited by the Chazzan and not by the congregation.  

The Rebbe would always stand for the Piyut beginning L’e-l Orech Din, recited in Shacharis on the first day and in Musaf on the second day.

Avinu Malkeinu: It is not our custom to recite it verse by verse after the Chazzan. The words Roia Gzar are recited without pausing in between.

It is customary to grant an Aliyah to the Ba’al Tokeiah and the Ba’al Musaf, unless they are being paid. A Bris performed at Shule is conducted before Tekios. A Bris performed at home is held after davening.


All men and boys over the age of Bar Mitzvah must hear the Shofar. Boys under Bar Mitzvah who are of the age of Chinuch (i.e. old enough to understand the concept of Tekias Shofar) must also hear the Shofar. Women and girls over Bas Mitzvah are technically exempt, but the custom is for them to hear anyway.

It says in the Siddur that after Krias Hatorah one must prepare for Tekias Shofar. The Siddur does not specify how, and the Rebbe explains that this is because everyone must make a personal soul-preparation that is inspiring on his level.

During the Tekios, the Sifrei Torah are held by those standing around the Bimah.

The Ba’al Tokeiah, the Makrie, and the Chazanim do not wear a Kittel.

The Makrie does not necessarily have to be the Chazzan for Shacharis. The Makrie points to the correct place, but does not say anything.

One should ensure that his children participate in Tekios and davening as much as appropriate for their age. One should ensure that children are quiet. Infants who may cry unexpectedly should be with their mothers. If an infant cries or makes noise, the mother should take the child out of Shule, and hear Shofar later.

It is customary for the congregation to stand during Tekios. One may lean or sit if standing is difficult.

 The Yehi Ratzon immediately before the Brochos is said only by the Ba’al Tokeiah.

When the Ba’al Tokeiah says the Brochos, one should have in mind to be Yoitzei the Brochos from him. One should not say “Boruch Hu u’Voruch Shmoi”. [If one accidently did so, he does not recite the Brochos again.]

When hearing the Shofar, one must have in mind to fulfil the Mitzvah of Shofar.

Between the Brochos and the very first Shofar sound, one should avoid speaking at all – even matters relevant to the Tekios. If one did speak at this time, if it was a matter unrelated to the Tekios, he needs to recite the Brochos again. 

The Brochos recited on the Shofar are valid for all the blasts that will be sounded until the end of Musaf. Therefore, from the time of the Brochos until after Kaddish Tiskabel at the end of Musaf, one should not speak any matter irrelevant to the Tekios or the Tefillos. If one did speak during this time, he does not repeat the Brochos, but should refrain from speaking unnecessarily again.

If one uses the facilities during this period of time, Asher Yatzar may be recited.

It says in the Siddur between the three Sedorim (sections) of the Shofar that “one confesses silently”. The Frierdiker Rebbe explains that this refers to one’s intense longing to connect with his Father in Heaven, and to become a changed person. [This is a fitting time for “Tziyur Pnei Harav”.]

The Yehi Ratzon after the Tekios is also said by the congregation. One should not begin reciting it until the Tekiah Gedolah is completely finished.

According to Kabballah, after the Sefer Torah is returned to the Aron Hakoidesh, the Baal Tokeiah faces the congregation in order that they may gaze at him.


Ideally, Musaf should be davened before the seventh hour of the day.

Since the Chazzan cannot move out of his place to bow at Aleinu, he should stand at a distance from the Shtender, to allow him some space to bow.

For the Tekios of the silent Shmoneh Esrei, the Baal Tokeiah knocks on the Bimah beforehand to signal that he is about to blow. One should pause to listen even if he is not yet up to the corresponding place in Shmoneh Esrei.

A Makrie is not used during Musaf.

The paragraph of Misoid (beginning of Chazaras Hashatz) is recited by the Chazzan and not the congregation. 

One should stand for U’Nesane Toikef.

The Chazzan recites the entire Aleinu – including the second half – out loud. The congregation quietly recites it word for word with him, bowing at V’Anachnu Korim, and continuing until Hu Elokenu Ein Oid. At that point, they begin saying the Pesukim of Atoh Horayso, as printed in the Machzor. The subsequent paragraph (beginning Oichilah) is recited by the Chazzan only.

One may not bow directly on a stone floor, but rather, should prepare mats upon which to bow. [Mats do not need to be used when bowing on a floorcovering of any other type.]

When one bows, his head should reach all the way to the ground.

The Chazzan must keep his feet together during Shmoneh Esrei. He should therefore be helped up after bowing at Aleinu.


If someone is davening without a Minyan, he should not hear Shofar or recite Musaf during the first quarter of the day, unless there is no other option. 

When possible, he should hear Shofar before Musaf, instead of after. 

He may not blow or listen to the Shofar during the actual Shmoneh Esrei of Musaf. 

After he concludes Shmoneh Esrei, he may recite the Piyuttim normally recited during the Chazzan’s repetition, but there is no obligation for him to do so.


One should go on Mivtzoim, ensuring that every Jew hears the Shofar.

Any spare time should be utilized for reciting Tehillim.

It is customary not to sleep during the day. Idling away one’s time is akin to sleeping. 

Anyone over Bar Mitzvah should not blow the Shofar unless for the sake of the Mitzvah. A child under Bar Mitzvah may be encouraged to practice.

Although it is a Mitzvah to eat and drink, one should not eat to the point that he is completely sated, in order that “the awe of Hashem be present on his face”. 


Tashlich is recited after Mincha, before sunset. [If one is late, he may recite it until the stars emerge.]

After Tashlich, one shakes the edges of his Tallis Koton.

One should not throw food to the fish.

If possible, one avoids eating the meal after the beginning of the tenth Halachic hour, so that one has an appetite for the Yom-Tov meal of the second night.

One may not perform any preparations on the first day for the second night and day of Yom Tov. 


One should use the time before Maariv to recite Tehillim. 

Candles must not be waxed into place, nor may the wicks be twisted to facilitate their lighting.  

When necessary, one may remove the wax from the previous night with a knife. It is best that one removes it in a way that it falls directly into the bin.

On the second night, the candles should be kindled with a pre-existing flame, and not before Tzeis Hakochavim. 

Tasks and preparations required for the second day of Yom Tov should not be performed before this time.

The Brochos are L’Hadlik Ner Shel Yom Hazikaron followed by Shehecheyanu. Since there is an argument whether Shehecheyanu is recited on the second night of Rosh Hashana, the person lighting candles ideally wears a new garment and has in mind both Yom-Tov and the new garment when reciting Shehecheyanu. Alternatively, the new fruit that will be eaten after Kiddush should be placed on the table, and one should have it in mind when reciting Shehecheyanu. In the absence of this, one still recites Shehecheyanu.

Before making Kiddush, new fruit should be placed on the table. When reciting Shehecheyanu, one should look at the new fruit, and have in mind both Yom-Tov and the new fruit. If one doesn’t have new fruit, he still recites Shehecheyanu.

At least a K’zayis (18 grams) of new fruit is eaten immediately after Kiddush, before washing for Challah. One recites Borei Pri Ha’etz, but not Shehecheyanu, as this was already recited at Kiddush. 

One should minimize the time between Kiddush and Challah.  Before washing, a Brocho Acharona is said on the fruit, but not on the wine. 


The Rebbeim would say Yizkor discreetly between Haftorah and the Tekios. Those without parents can choose whether to follow suit.

After Mincha, we wash for Hamotzi and participate in a Farbrengen at which the Nigunim of the Rebbeim (and the Daled Bavos) are sung. A Maamar is recited. The final moment of Rosh Hashana should be linked to the first moments of Motzei Rosh Hashana with words of both Nigleh and Chassidus.

Ya’aleh Veyavo and both Horachamon’s are recited during Bentching, even if it is already after Tzeis Hakochavim.

Havdalah is recited without Besomim and candles. V’Yiten Lecha is not recited.


See separate Halacha Guide for laws pertaining to Tzom Gedalya.

Tachnun is recited until Erev Yom Kippur, together with the long Avinu Malkeinu. When Tachnun is not recited (e.g. Mincha of Erev Shabbos, or when a Chosson or one of the Baalei Habris are present), Avinu Malkeinu is not recited either.

One must use these days to correct his ways and do Teshuvah.

A doubtful Aveirah requires more Teshuvah than a definite one, as it is human nature to discount a doubtful Aveirah and assume that he didn’t really do anything wrong.

One should increase in Torah, Tefillah and Tzedakah. One should be more meticulous in his observance of Mitzvos, even where he is ordinarily accustomed to following the lenient opinion.

The seven days between Rosh Hashana Yom Kippur encompass the seven days of the week. One should utilize each day to do Teshuvah for all the corresponding weekdays of the previous year.

The Rebbe emphasized that Aseres Y’mei Teshuvah is an especially appropriate time for Bochurim to remain in a Yeshivah setting, as opposed to having a break.

If one did not do Hataras Nedarim on Erev Rosh Hashana, he should do so during the Aseres Y’mei Teshuvah.

If one did not do Tashlich on Rosh Hashana, he should do so during the Aseres Y’mei Teshuvah, preferably on the eighth of Tishrei.

Kiddush Levanah is not recited until after Yom Kippur. 


During Aseres Y’mei Teshuvah, one recites Hamelech Hakodosh at the end of the third Brocho, and Hamelech Hamishpat at the end of the eleventh Brocho.

One who did not say Hamelech Hakodosh: If he realized before he began the next Brocho and within the time frame it takes to say three words, he corrects his mistake. Otherwise, he must begin Shmoneh Esrei again. [The same applies if this occurs in Chazaras Hashatz, in which case Kedushah is recited again.]

If one is in doubt whether he said Hamelech Hakodosh, he needs to repeat Shmoneh Esrei. 

One who did not say Hamelech Hamishpat: If he realized before he began the next Brocho and within the time frame it takes to say three words, he may correct his mistake. Otherwise, he should continue Shmoneh Esrei without correcting his mistake.

In this event, it is ideal to daven Shmoneh Esrei a second time, as a Nedavah, in order to say Hamelech Hamishpat. [However, if this occurs to the Chazzan – in either Shmoneh Esrei – he does not repeat it a second time.]

If one mistakenly omitted any of the other four additions (Zochreinu, Mi Chomocha, u’Chsov, u’Vsefer Chaim), he may recite it at the place he remembers if he has not yet said Hashem’s name at the end of that Brocho. Otherwise, he continues Shmoneh Esrei and does not go back.

During Chazaras Hashatz, the congregation recites the selections of u’chsov and u’Vsefer Chaim aloud before the Chazzan says them.


In Me’ein Sheva (the Brocho after the Shmoneh Esrei of Maariv), we recite Hamelech Hakodosh. 

Maftir is given to a learned and prominent person due to the special significance of this Haftorah.

One should attend the Shabbos Shuvah Drosho.

Vihi Noam and V’atah Kaddosh are not recited on Motzei Shabbos.

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