By Popular Demand: Since there will unfortunately be many people forced to pray Rosh Hashanah prayers alone at home, the Halacha is that one should recite all prayers, as usual, obviously besides for the Chazzan’s repetition of the Amida prayer. Such individuals are also obligated to her Shofar blowing. If one knows how to blow Shofar one his own, one should do so. Otherwise, one should make arrangements to have someone else blow for him.
One praying Mussaf alone should not do so until three hours of the day have passed (i.e. the latest time for the morning Keri’at Shema). Similarly, if one one is praying Mussaf alone, one should not stop in the middle of one’s prayer to blow the Shofar or hear the Shofar being blown by another. Hearing thirty blasts either before or after Mussaf will be sufficient, for the enactment to blow the Shofar during Mussaf only exists in a congregation. (See Shulchan Aruch Chapter 592, Section 2. Although some authorities disagree, the Halacha follows the opinion of Maran. See also Chazon Ovadia- Yamim Nora’im, page 149.)
One should preferably eat Seudah Shelishit on Shabbat before the tenth hour of the day (approximately 3:30 PM) so that one has sufficient appetite to partake of that night’s Yom Tov meal. If this time has passed and one has not yet eaten Seudah Shelishit, one should not eat one’s fill; rather, one should eat only a small amount so that this does not interfere with the Mitzvah of enjoying the Yom Tov meal later that night. Nevertheless, one must eat at least a Kebetza (54 grams) of bread in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Seuda Shelishit. (Halacha Berurah, Chapter 249, Section 12)
It is preferable to pray Mincha before partaking of Seudah Shelishit, especially according to the Kabbalah; however, this is not compulsory. (see Mishnah Berurah Chapter 291. Subsection 11 and Kaf Hachaim ibid Subsection 15. Although the Ben Ish Hai, Chayeh Sarah Year 2, Section 14 states that according to the Ari z”l, one who eats Seudah Shelishit before praying Mincha has not fulfilled his obligation, nevertheless, according to the Poskim, this is not the case. See also Ohr Le’Zion, Volume 2, Chapter 21, Section 7.)
May Hashem remove this plague from among us, may we hear good news, may this past year’s calamities come to an end, and may the blessing of this coming year begin, Amen.
This year (5781), Rosh Hashanah will fall out this coming Shabbat and Sunday, G-d-willing. Let us discuss several unique laws relevant to this year.
The Arvit Prayer
When Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat, Kabbalat Shabbat is recited before Arvit; however, the “Bameh Madlikin” chapter is omitted. (Rama Chapter 270 and Chazon Ovadia- Yamim Noraim, page 77)
After the Amida prayer in Arvit, the “Me’en Sheva” blessing is recited as is the case every Shabbat night. One should substitute the words “Ha’el Ha’Kadosh She’en Kamohu” with “Ha’Melech Ha’Kadosh She’en Kamohu.” If one erred, and becomes aware of this in the middle of the blessing, one must return to the words “Magen Avot.” If one has already completed the blessing, one does not repeat it. (ibid. page 83)
On the second night of Rosh Hashanah which coincides with Motza’ei Shabbat, one must insert the “Va’Todi’enu” text in the Arvit prayer, as printed in all Machzorim. If one forgets to inset this text, one should not repeat the Amida since one will be reciting Kiddush and Havdala on a cup of wine at home.
There is a positive Torah commandment to hear the Shofar blasts on Rosh Hashanah. Our Sages taught that any year that Shofar blasts are not sounded at its beginning has the potential of something ominous happening at its end. According to the Kabbalah, there are many deep reasons behind this Mitzvah. Nevertheless, on a year when Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat, our Sages were concerned that one may come to carry the Shofar through a public domain. Since our Sages understood the severity of even one sin committed by the Jewish nation, they decreed that the positive Torah commandment of Shofar blowing should be nullified when Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat (as there is a distinction between passively nullifying a Mitzvah versus actively transgressing a prohibition).
The commentaries taught (see discourse of Rabbeinu Moshe Alshich for 17 Elul) that our Sages understood that if they made this enactment for the benefit of the Jewish nation, Yom Kippur would serve to complete the Jewish nation’s atonement and they would not be harmed as a result of not having blown the Shofar. On the contrary, when Hashem sees how we fulfill the words of our Sages, He will grant us a good and prosperous new year.
Since we will not actually be blowing the Shofar on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, any reference of “Yom Teruah” (a day of Shofar blasts) in the prayer should be substituted with “Zichron Teruah” (a commemoration of Shofar blasts). Our Sages (Rosh Hashanah 29b) supported this idea based on several verses. One verse states “Yom Teruah” while another states “Zichron Teruah.” They explain that one verse refers to Rosh Hashanah which falls out on a weekday and the other refers to Rosh Hashanah which coincides with Shabbat. Even this rabbinic injunction is hinted to in the Torah.
Rosh Hashanah Prayers
We have discussed in the past that a disagreement exists regarding whether or not one may insert personal requests in one’s Rosh Hashanah prayers (after the second “Yihyu Le’Ratzon” verse at the end of the Amida). Those who act leniently certainly have on whom to rely, for Hagaon Harav Yisrael Salanter writes that nowadays, since material needs are of extreme importance to people and they are also an important factor in being able to serve Hashem properly, there is room to allow praying for such things on Rosh Hashanah. (See Kochvei Ohr page 262; also alluded to in Bet Yosef, Chapter 584.) Although many great luminaries abstained from doing so and recommended the same to their students, one who wishes to do so because one feels a great need to do so may. Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l rules likewise (Halichot Shlomo, Chapter 1, Section 15). We have heard reliable sources quote that Maran zt”l had ruled likewise as well.
This issue becomes compounded this year when Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat, for even on a regular Shabbat, one may not pray for one’s individual needs. Indeed, Hagaon Harav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l (quoted in Ashrei Ha’ish, Volume 3, Chapter 15) rules stringently in this regard. Nevertheless, according to Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l and others, there is room for leniency even when Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat. This seems to be what is instructed in many Yeshivot today for those who feel it necessary.
When Rosh Hashanah coincides with Shabbat, “Tzidkatecha” is recited during Mincha. (Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 598 and Chazon Ovadia page 185)
May Hashem accept all our prayers and fulfill all of our hearts’ wishes for the good, Amen.