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Foods during the High Holidays

Question:

Hello Rabbi, from when to when are the following often not eaten: nuts, peanutbutter, vinegar and other spicy/sour foods? Just Rosh Hashanah? ThroughYom Kippur?Through Sukkot?And are things like hummus (often has vinegar), and colw slaw (same but ends up sweet) permitted anytime? Thank you.

 

Answer:

Thank you for your question.
Before getting to the specific foods that you are asking about, it is noteworthy that there are different customs, depending on the reason for not eating these foods. One reason not to eat nuts is because they cause a person to salivate, and that will disturb our concentration while we daven. According to this, it will not apply after Yom Kippur. Another reason given is because אגוז has the same numerical value as the word חטא, which we want to avoid during the time of judgement. Therefore, some have this minhag only for Rosh Hashana, others are careful about this only until after Yom Kippur, while others have the minhag to abstain from eating these foods until after Hoshana Rabba, when the din is finished.
Regarding the specific foods that you mentioned, the custom is not to eat nuts, .
Regarding peanut butter, there is controversy if it is included in “egoz” (which is translated as a walnut). Therefore, many are careful about all “nuts”, however some poskim say that since peanuts are specifically called “butnim”, therefore they are permitted. There are still others who say that the minhag is not to eat them. The poskim do say that peanut butter is permitted, on days that there is no concern that it will disturb the davening. Their reason is because there is another lenient factor here, that the peanuts are not noticeable.
Regarding chummus, the idea of not eating vinegar is not to eat sour things, as a symbol that we shouldn’t have a sour year. If there is a little bit of vinegar in the chummus, and it isn’t making it have a sour taste, it is fine. The same would be with using mayonnaise, which sometimes can contain vinegar. Regarding cole slaw, if it indeed comes out tasting sweet, then it would not be an issue.
Most important, regardless of what one’s minhag is; the Tur says that if we don’t do all these things just as “symbolic” of sin, how much more do we have to be careful not to get angry on Rosh Hashana, which is a real sin, and a bad symbol! Rather one should be joyful that if the person does Teshuva that Hashem will grant him a good year.
A Kasiva v’chasima tova

Sources:

רמ”א ס’ תקפ”ג סע’ ב’, וכן במט”א ס’ תקפ”ג סע’ ג’, וע’ כף החיים שם ס”ק י”ח, ובס’ הלכות חג בחג פ”ו הערה 43 שהביא מס’ התעוררות לתשובה ח”א ס’ קכ”ה שהביא מנהג זה ותמה עליו ובי”ד יצחק ח”א ס’ ר”ה ישבו.

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