Seudat Rosh Chodesh

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

While on Shabbat and Yom Tov there is an obligation to eat seudot, elaborate meals that include bread, there is some confusion as to the status or even existence of such a requirement on 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 are careful to do so. However, the significance and necessity of holding such a meal is subject to debate among the halachic authorities.

There are 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 Yom Tov due to the Scriptural adjacency of Rosh Chodesh and Yom Tov in the Torah.[4] 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] 

Nevertheless, 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 event 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 hold a meal in honor of Rosh Chodesh should do so during the day,[13] although there are authorities who rule that the mitzva can be accomplished with a meal 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] Other authorities 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 event being observed on both 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 the preferred way to commence the Rosh Chodesh feast, even eating a fruit in honor of the day has much merit.[21] It is recommended to hold a complete meal consisting of fish and meat if possible.[22]

Wearing finer clothes than usual is also recommended in honor of the additional soul that we receive.[23] 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.[24] 


[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] Pesikta cited in Tur O.C. 419, Kaf Hachaim 591:1

[8] Beit Yosef O.C. 419, Sanhedrin 70a, Ran;Rosh Hashanah 24a, Ta’amei Haminhagim 450

[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, Ta’amei Haminhagim 450

[13] Based on the Rosh Chodesh connection with the Purim meal which must be eaten during the day, So too the verse 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] Sha’arei Tziyun 418:1, Minhag Yisrael Torah 619:1

[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. 419:1

[23] Minhag Yisrael Torah O.C. 419:4, Kaf Hachaim 419:5,6

[24] Kaf Hachaim 419:6

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com

7 comments

  1. what is the rationale whether you repeat bentching if you forget “ya’ale veyavo”

  2. You do not repeat bentiching if you forget yaaleh v’yavo on Rosh Chodesh because, utlimately, there is no true obligation to eat bread on Rosh Chodesh.

    Ari Enkin

  3. [13] Based on the Rosh Chodesh connection with the Purim meal which must be eaten during the day, So too the verse quoted above dealing with Rosh Chodesh mentions “day”.

    __

    And just like one gets intoxicated on Purim, one should do so on Rosh Chodesh? Cheers.

  4. R’ Ari,
    Where is the cite r’ti comments on? R’TI=sounds like a category 3 (in the Rich system of gezeirah shava categorization system) gzeirah shava- gilui milta to the extent Ilogical to be medameh!
    KT

  5. I was unaware of the “Rich system of G”S (like that abbreviation?) categorization system. Funny.

    I was joking though. I know the chiyuv on Purim is due to the nes. Just trying to find an excuse to drink.

  6. MiMedinat HaYam

    shaul hamelech made a festive meal (with “zevach”. korban RC???) on (both days of) rosh chodesh, which David attended, per footnote 5 sefer shmuel. (or perhaps the festive meal was due to the “zevach”.)

    chassidim have a custom of eating a cake (kugel it says) on motzei shabat / seudah shilishit after dark (no problem for them) and then saying both ya’aleh ve’yavo and r’tzei in birkhat hamazon on shabat “machar chodesh”.

  7. R Ari-see also the Hasagos HaRamban to Sefer HaMitzvos as to the obligation of Simcha on RC being a function of being either in the Mikdash or the Gvulin.

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