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Friday, Elul 20, 5782 / September 16, 2022


The Torah reading for this Shabbat is Parshat Ki Tavo. After Shabbat there will be only four Parshiot left to the conclusion of the Torah. We are now less than two weeks from the holiday of Rosh Hashana, which will usher in the Hebrew year, 5783.


Q.  The prayerbook we use all year for the daily and Shabbat prayers is called, “Siddur.”   Why is the one we use for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur called, “Machzor.”?


A.    “Machzor” means “cycle.” It is not for daily use as the Siddur, only on certain days (cycles).


Q.  Why is it customary to eat an apple dipped in honey on the first night of Rosh Hashana?


A.  The Torah relates that when Yitzchak (Isaac) gave his blessings to his son, Yaakov (Jacob), Yitzchak exclaimed, "The smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the L-rd had blessed."  The Zohar says that this refers to an "apple orchard." Thus, blessings are associated with the apple.  In Scriptures we also find that the people of Israel are compared to an apple


The apple and honey we eat on Rosh Hashana is a sign and prayer that G-d will grant us, for the New Year, all the sweet blessings which our forefather Yitzchak blessed Yaakov and his descendants - the Jewish people.


Q. Why can’t the first day Rosh Hashana be on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday.


A.   When the Hebrew calendar was set up, two thousand years ago, the sages made sure that the fast day of Yom Kippur shall never come on a Friday or Sunday.  Their reason was, because the prohibition of work on Yom Kippur is the same as on Shabbat. Cooking and many other food preparations are prohibited, thus it would be very difficult and maybe even dangerous for many people, especially the poor, if they couldn’t get their food staples for two days in a row. 


Yom Kippur is ten days after Rosh Hashana. If Rosh Hashana was allowed to be on Wednesday, then Yom Kippur would fall on Friday; and if Rosh Hashana will come on Friday, then Yom Kippur would be on Sunday. In order to avoid this situation, when Shabbat and Yom Kippur fall one day after the other and people may not have enough food for two days, they made sure that Rosh Hashana shall not be on Wednesday or Friday.   


The reason they didn’t establish Rosh Hashana to be on a Sunday is for another reason. If Rosh Hashana would be on a Sunday, then Hoshana Raba, would have to fall on Shabbat and we would be prohibited to perform the special mitzvah of Aravot. For this, they made sure that Rosh Hashana should not come on Sunday, because then we would not be able to perform this important once-a-year mitzvah.




Montreal candle lighting time: 6:45 / Shabbat ends: 7:46