נהיה לראשׁ ולא לזנב (Rosh Hashana Fish Head Blessing)

fish head rosh hashana

“May we be like the head and not the tail.” Like many customs and tradition, eating a fish head to mark the new year, is both delicious and disgusting. Before they are moral, these kinds of tradition are gustatory, or rather the morality has a gustatory intensity or flavor. Kudos to my brother Andrew for the photograph, and for sharing it at FB. He caught such a plaintive look and expression. I guess we should count our blessings. In the Shulchan Aruch, laws of Rosh Hashana, chapter 583, which you can read here, it’s supposed to be a lamb’s head, the point having been to remember the lamb of Isaac. According to the Rama, “Some are careful not to eat nuts since nuts have the numerical value of sin.  Also, they cause a lot of gas, interrupting prayer.” Tongue in cheek, that too is moral.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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