The Rare Minhag of Wishing “Shana Tova” on New Year’s, Explained


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One might find it odd that there is any Jewish connection to the secular New Year’s Eve, but there is. The Apta Ruv – The Oheiv Yisrael used to bless people on the secular New Year’s “From now on, there should be a good year for Klal Yisrael” (Hebrew source at end of article)

It is said that The Ropshitzer Ruv, used to wish people a happy new year’s in Polish “Szczęśliwego nowego roku” on the secular new year.

The Oholei Yaakov explained the reasoning behind the Apta Ruv’s unique blessing as follows. When Hakadosh Baruch Hu sees the difference of how the yidden celebrate their New Year (Rosh Hashana) and how the world celebrates their New Year’s,  a stark difference becomes evident.

“When the yidden cry out to Hashem on Rosh Hashana “Renew Us For A Good Year” (Chadeish Aleinu Shana Tova) , their cries are not always accepted because of various “accusations” (kitrugim) Klal Yisrael is expected to be above the other nations, and more is expected of them.

However when the difference between how Jews celebrate Rosh Hashana in comparison to how the world celebrates New Year’s becomes crystal clear, this difference is a zechus that destroys the kitrugim and our tefillos go up to heaven.

Who would have thought that the secular New Year’s is a good time to daven for our needs?

3-2-1 Daven, Hashem is smiling down on the Jewish people.

As all the emails and campaigns going around for the end-of year campaigns, the one thing that stands out is this. We give tzedakah. The generosity in a Jewish heart is certainly above and beyond tax-savings.  I, as an individual would like to speak about the organization that is very close to my heart and that is P’eylim Yad L’Achim. Their multi-faceted work of kiruv rechokim, anti-missionary work and Pidyon Shvuyim (rescuing Jewish women and children trapped in Arab villages) is one of the highest forms of tzedaka you can achieve. I know personally of several families that are flourishing today because of Yad L’Achim.

Please support the future of Klal Yisrael through Yad L’Achim by CLICKING HERE

You can also join the special tefillah taking place at the resting place of the holy Baba Sali zt”l on the day of his yahrtzeit byCLICKING HERE.



וההסבר, בר”ה של ישראל הם צועקים לה’ חדש עלינו שנה טובה, אך לא תמיד הצעקה מתקבלת בגלל רבוי הקטרוגים, כי מהאומה הישראלית נדרש יותר מאשר נדרש משאר אומות, בני בכורי ישראל אמר ה’, ומהבכור דורשים יתר שאת, עליה מתדמת בסולם המוסר והקדושה ויתר עז, הוי עז כנמר לעשות רצון אביך שבשמים, ואין הדרשה הזאת מתמלאת באופן מספיק.

אך בבוא ראש השנה של אומות העולם, וההבדל שביניהם מתלבט, ישראל בליל ר”ה שלהם משמיעים ביראה בקול לה’ הארץ ומלואה, ואומה”ע מבלים ליל ר”ה שלהם בהוללות ומילוי תאוותם, ומן הראוי שהקבלה הזאת תבטל כל הקטרוגים, ותפילתם וצעקתם של ישראל בליל ר”ה שלהם תקובל למצער עכשיו את צעקתם שמעתי מפני נוגשיו, זאת היתה כוונת הרב מאפטא זצ”ל באמרו תחל מהיום שנה טובה.

(ספר ילקוט אוהב ישראל, בשם ספר אהלי יעקב הוסיאטין)



  1. the barditchver REB lvik wished someone the same .
    the LUBAVITCHER REBBA wished RABBI JJ HEACT the same … and also to his secretary REB nissan mindell the same ..
    the kitorash was divided up in 365 portions
    according to the days of the sun callender

  2. Yad L’Achim and P’Eylim-Lev L’Achim are two different organizations.

    They are not connected, but both are outstanding charities, deserving our support.

  3. This 2 people mentioned this, it needs explanation. Yes Yad L’Achim and Lev L’Achim are indeed two different worthy organizations.
    However both use the name P’eylim as well, although Lev L’Achim uses it today a bit more, especially in America.
    Yad L’Achim was founded over 50 years ago; they were then known as the P’eylim. When several YL staffers broke off and started Lev L’Achim, they too used the name P’eylim and they became popular in America.
    Yad L’Achim is still the original P’eylim and their mailings have had the name P’eylim for decades (I know, I still get their mailings three times a year.
    There is nothing wrong with both orgs today using the name P’eylim just as there are a hundred organizations using the name Chessed in their name as well. Just pointing out the facts.

  4. The way that most Christians are supposed to celebrate January 1 is as a Holy Day — the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God”. I actually got caught in traffic as a Catholic mass in celebration of this day was letting out. I would hope that this is something that we can all agree is anathema to Judaism and that none of us should be celebrating this day.

  5. I am saddened to see how the sutun has tricked such holy tzadikim to partake even a little in avoda zuru. the same feeling i have when i see eirlich yidden commemorate the 25th with special games and refusal to learn torah. oy, tatty, look what has become of your children and end this galus already!

  6. To say these gedolim were wrong is absolutely absurd. Really, do you think you know better? Read the article – they weren’t partaking, they were seizing an opportunity to pray for a kal vachomer for the Jewish people in annual judgement. In general, the Gentiles’ celebration of their new year is antithetical to the Jewish spiritual celebration of our new year, which we consider a day of judgement. It’s an opportune time to pray on the premise that Hashem provides for them, kal vachomer He will provide for us.

    Side note – New Year’s Day on Jan 1 is a christian adaption of an ancient pagan New Years holiday dating back to 2000BCE, and is only lmited to some sects of Christianity (others celebrate Christmas and New Years at a different date), which i find apparent gaping hole in the Christian religion/faith.

  7. charliehall: I agree, we shouldn’t be celebrating it.

    In answer to besalel, those holy tzadikim weren’t fooled by the Soton or anything else. It’s common decency and good for neighborly relations to wish people a happy holiday or happy new year. That’s vastly different than celebrating those days.

    As far as new years is concerned, fr us it’s a secular calendar change. When you write a check, do you use the secular date or the Jewish date?