Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Seudat Rosh Chodesh

by Rabbi Ari Enkin

While on Shabbat and Yom Tov there is an obligation to eat seudot, elaborate meals which include bread, there is some confusion as to the status or even existence of such a requirement concerning Rosh Chodesh. (1) Nevertheless, it is unquestionably a mitzva (2) for one to hold a feast or otherwise increase one’s gastronomic pleasures in honor of the day. Indeed, there are many people who are meticulous in their observance of mitzvot, who do so. However, the weight and requirement of holding such a meal is subject to debate among the halachic authorities.

There those who suggest that arranging a meal on Rosh Chodesh is equivalent to the meal one eats on Purim which certainly shows the esteem in which it is held.(3) In fact, some take this idea further comparing the Rosh Chodesh meal to that of any other biblical Yom Tov due to the Scriptural adjacency of Rosh Chodesh and Yom Tov in the Torah.(4)It is documented that King David was careful to hold a feast in honor of Rosh Chodesh.[5] One should be sure to sing songs and other praises to God at one's Rosh Chodesh meal.[6] We are taught that on Rosh Hashana one’s financial income is decided for the entire year with the exception of Shabbat, Yom Tov, and Rosh Chodesh expenses for which one is ultimately reimbursed.(7)

Click here to read moreNevertheless, there is reason to believe that the true mitzva of holding a feast in honor of Rosh Chodesh was only in effect in days of old when the New Moon was declared by the Beit Din through the testimony of eyewitnesses.[8]Even then, the meal may not have been inherently intended as mitzva tied to Rosh Chodesh, but rather as an act to publicize that the new month had been declared.[9]Fasting, even for a few hours,[10]is strictly forbidden on Rosh Chodesh.[11]Some have the custom to light candles in the home in honor of Rosh Chodesh, as is done on Shabbat.[12]

Those who would like to hold a meal in honor of Rosh Chodesh are advised to do so during the day (13), although there are those authorities who rule that the mitzva can be accomplished when the meal is held at night.[14] In the event the Rosh Chodesh falls out on Shabbat when elaborate meals are eaten anyway, one should be sure to at least add an additional dish in honor of Rosh Chodesh.[15] Others suggest that in such a case one should hold a distinct meal in honor of Rosh Chodesh on Sunday.[16]Certainly if Rosh Chodesh is a two day observance, Shabbat and Sunday, the Rosh Chodesh meal should take place on Sunday in order to ensure its distinction.[17]

Although it seems clear from the vast majority of sources that holding a meal on Rosh Chodesh cannot be declared an outright obligation, it is certainly a commendable thing to do and an opportunity for a mitzva.[18]It is a day when we are imbued with an additional soul[19]similar to Shabbat and Yom Tov and those in Gehennom are given a respite on this day.[20]Although reciting a blessing over two whole loaves of bread is ideal way to hold such a meal, even eating a fruit in honor of the day has much merit.[21]Wearing finer clothes than usual is also recommended in honor of the additional soul that we receive.[22]Indeed, it is recommended that each person have at least three sets of clothing in addition to their regular weekday wear – one for Shabbat, one for Yom Tov, and one to be reserved for Rosh Chodesh, Chanuka, Purim and Chol Hamoed.[23]


[1]Minhag Yisrael Torah 419:1
[2]O.C. 419:1
[3]Tur O.C. 419
[4]Bamidbar 10:10, Kaf Hachaim 591:1
[5]Shmuel 1:20
[6]Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 419:2
[7]Psikta cited in Tur O.C. 419, Kaf Hachaim 591:1
[8]Beit Yosef O.C. 419, Sanhedrin 70a, Ran;Rosh Hashanah 24a,
[9]Rambam Kiddush Hachodesh 3:7, Rashi;Yevamot 70b
[10]Kaf Hachaim 418:3, Biur Halacha 418
[11]O.C. 418:1
[12]Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 419:3
[13]Based on the Rosh Chodesh connection with the Purim meal which must be eaten during the day, So too the passuk quoted above dealing with Rosh Chodesh mentions “day”.
[14]Rema M’pano 79
[15]Mishna Berura 418:2, 419:1-2
[16]Kaf Hachaim 419:3
[17]Kaf Hachaim 419:4
[18]Shaarei Tziyun 418:1, Yireim 127
[19]Kaf Hachaim 419:5, Zohar;Lech Lecha, Afrakasta D’anya 1:50, Tzitz Eliezer 7:49:2
[20]Birkei Yosef 419
[21]Kaf Hachaim 419:2, Ben Ish Chai;Vayikra 10
[22]Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 419:4, Kaf Hachaim 419:5,6
[23]Kaf Hachaim 419:6

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