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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Rosh Hashana: Nuts, Yea or Nay?

Don't let this short post distract you from posting comments on my previous post. But can the minhagim experts please let me know just how widespread the no nuts on Rosh Hashana minhag is? Has it taken on great force in recent years because older Jewish Cookbooks don't refrain from Rosh Hashana receipes withe nuts, particularly Honey Cake? My husband can't imagine his mother's honey cake without nuts (she is pure Sephardi)!

I'm cutting the nuts out of the simanim courses because I don't want to leave my guests without food (chas v'shalom). . . . . or send anyone to the hospital (I do seem to recall one guest might be allergic). But I'm not planning to cut them out of the honey cake as there will be other dessert options. Sephardi Cooking is filled with nuts (on Rosh Hashana too) and nuts do add to the flavor and quality of the food.

So Yea or Nay to Nuts and why?

19 comments:

Halfnutcase said...

i've heard two explanations for the no nuts.

First, in the shulchan aruch harav I saw (just yesterday) that two particular species of nut are to be avoided because they cause a person to have a lot of phlem and saliva which disturb one while praying. (walnuts and hazelnuts, don't know how true this is).

The other justification I've heard is that nuts are the numerical value of 17, which is also the numerical value of cheit (sin). This is problematic because we also shower our newly weds in nuts which are the numerical value of 17 (tov - good). (not to mention in order to fenagle this you have to delete the aleph from chait, which makes it 18, just like chai - life.) (this one is in the kitzur)

so one way it makes sense, the other way? not so much. Just tell them that 17 is the value of tov, and perhaps they'll then eat it.

(actualy both use the same words, and both translate differently.)

David said...

I've never encountered the custom of avoiding nuts on Rosh Hashana before - it sounds like a bummer of a custom to me.

Is there a basis in non-Hasidic halakha? (the phlegm thing would apply more to either chicken or dairy products than nuts...)

Halfnutcase said...

david, the shulchan aruch harav generaly gives the same psak as does the shulchan aruch through the lense of the magen avrahom.

so yes, this is even for non-chassidic halacha. Both of these are sourced to the shulchan aruch proper.

Ezzie said...

We always forget, and our guests generally don't care. It's a strange minhag. But a few will refrain from those courses (we're not offended, people care about minhagim).

ADDeRabbi said...

see
http://adderabbi.blogspot.com/2006/09/avoiding-nuts-on-rosh-hashana-new.html
http://parsha.blogspot.com/2006/09/but-egoz-is-not-gematria-chet_21.html

Juggling Frogs said...

For what it's worth, we're Yekkes, and don't have this minhag.

All year round, I try to warn people when I cook with nuts (which I like to do, too), because of all the allergies.

Our day school's elementary school just changed over to a "nut free policy" for the whole building. Goodbye granola bars ("may be processed on facility that had nuts") goodbye peanut butter...

There are a growing number of people who tell me that they're allergic to "all types of tree nuts, including mango" when they accept meal invitations...

Happy New Year, with or without nuts, may it be full of "tov"!

Halfnutcase said...

PEANUTS ARE NOT NUTS!

Ariella said...

I actually like nuts, especially in cakes and cookies. But my husband doesn't care for them, so I usually omit them, even from some of the Pesach recipes that rely on them for some added texture. But I recall someone else's experience: the first Rosh Hashana he was married, his wife made almost everything with nuts. She had forgotten about avoiding nuts for Rosh Hashana. I do believe they did eat the nut dishes in the end.

anonymous mom said...

I thought it was a Chasidic minhag more than anything else. Has to do with the Gematria for Chait. I'm sure other reasons too. We don't eat nuts or sour things. No pickles, no vinegar. This was passed down from my Bahby many years ago.

Charlie Hall said...

We eat nuts year round.

And everyone who shows up in shul in the morning before "Rabbi Yishmael omer" can attest that gematria is NOT one of the ways by which halachah is derived.

Anonymous said...

Would honey-roasted nuts work better?

anon1 said...

Charlie Hall,

there are halachos derived or at least reflected in gematria. For example, the gemara in Nazir learns that stam nezirus, i.e., a nazir who does not specify the term of his nezirus, is 30 days because the Torah says kadish yehiyeh and the gematria of yiheyeh is 30. Whether this is the "source" or a remez to it is a point of dispute but gematrias do have a place in halacha.

Perhaps the best take on the "chet" gematrai and nuts on RH involved a group of chasidim who asked their rebbe whether they should avoid nuts on RH because of the gematria of chet. The rebbe said, yes it is a fine minhag, but he further reminded that chet also has the gematria of chet.

So the minhag is fine and minhag yisrael Torah but it's important to understand where its place is in the scheme of things.

anon1 said...

typo -- "kadish yehiyeh" should read "kadosh yehiyeh" - thanks.

miriamp said...

halfnutcase -- it's completely true that peanuts are not technically nuts, but on the other hand, many people who are allergic to nuts are also allergic to peanuts, perhaps more so. I have several friends that you could literally kill with a bag of peanuts. Breathing them is enough to send them out of the room, searching for an asthma inhaler. When a school goes "nut free" they usually actually go "peanut free" or "nut and peanut-free."

Sephardilady, I don't even make charoset with nuts, so I'm a bad person to ask, but yes, we avoid nuts "b'dafka" on Rosh Hashanah. Not during the Aseres Yimei Teshuvah, although I did once have a Shabbos guest during that time who kept all the food avoidance Rosh Hashanah minhagim: nuts, lemon juice and vinegar, etc. all the way until Sukkos and forgot to warn me. (Maybe he thought it was universal?)

With a strong history of food allergy, I personally don't eat nuts or peanuts while nursing (which is basically my whole married life at this point) and we don't serve nuts (or peanuts) to our children who are under 3, ever.

Actually, my 4 yr old gets violently ill from Nature Valley Granola Bars (which contain at least 3 and maybe more separate types of nuts and/or nut flours) so although he's technically not allergic to any of them, he still can't eat them. And it hasn't been worth making him sick to figure out if it's all or only one of the specific ingredients in those granola bars that is bothering him.

As for lemon juice and vinegar, well, I might sneak them into pastries and other sweet baked goods, but we avoid things that actually taste sour.

-miriamp (the p added recently for clarity)

Julie said...

I cannot imagine Rosh Hashanah (or any other holiday when eating is allowed) without nuts or spicy food. I'm with your husband. What is honey cake without the nuts? I explain to my guests that I have a minhag to eat spicy foods on Rosh Hashanah in hopes that the year will be filled with spice and energy.

A Simple Jew said...

Here is a posting I just put up related to this gematria about nuts and sin here

anonymous mom said...

no sour foods until after hoshana raba. except stuffed cabbage and there's a whole reason for that too. I don't remember what that one is. also, we make farfel on succos because the decision is "farfallen" already, meaning the judgment is done. bought more special foods this year than ever. leeks, black eyed peas, beets, cabbage, carrots, calf's head and fish head. someone in our family was seriously injured recently and we all feel extremely powerless. i don't know whether these things we do mean anything or are just to put us in the mood. all i know is that health is most important and usually taken forgranted. shana tova.

Charlie Hall said...

We are doing Indian food and Chinese food the first two nights in honor of the two countries that have never persecuted Jews. (Yes, we are cooking it ourselves -- I do the Chinese, my wife the Indian.)

miriamp said...

"I explain to my guests that I have a minhag to eat spicy foods on Rosh Hashanah in hopes that the year will be filled with spice and energy."

I like that, Julie! Mind if I steal it? I definitely used plenty of spices, just not anything that actually tastes sour or bitter in the finished product.