Not that i expect anyone would ever do this... but could someone use a shrunken head for the l'rosh v'lo l'zanav siman on Rosh Hashanah?

2 Answers 2


The gemara in Krisos daf vav says we eat the simanim. The girsa in Horios 12a is to look at the simanim. In situations where one cannot eat the siman, we rely on simply looking at them. This was the Ben Ish Chai's practice when a certain one of the simanim was too bug infested to be allowed to be eaten.

Being that the link was to a human shrunken head I will only adress that. See the Yad Ephraim printed in the standard Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah in the begining of Siman 117 where he rules that mummies, which were thought to have medicinal properties, are assur bihanaah. See also the end of siman 142 where the Shulchan Aruch rules that looking at something for pleasure is called getting hanaah, and although the Shulchan Aruch is discussing avoda zara, the Shach there tells us that other issurim are even more simple to us as being assur. Assuming that the looking at the item for a good siman is hanaah, it would be assur to use the shrunken human head.

And besides, ew.


Basically, what kind of a head are you talking about. If you mean a human shrunken head, then it is subject to all the rules of a body of a human being. This includes the requirement that it be buried, treated with respect and the laws of tum'ah (ritual impurity). As such, using it as a "segulah" would be asur.

In fact, it is also asur to have a (real) one in your house as you should bury it as soon as you get it.

The differences in treatment between the head of a Jew and a nonJew are the same as that of any dead body.

If you are talking about a "shrunken" animal head (such as a sheep) there should be no question. In the case of an animal head, you should make sure that it is from a kosher shechted animal so that you can eat from it.

  • "depends what kind of head you're talking about" .....you only discussed one side. What about a shrunken sheep's head?
    – MTL
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 13:18
  • What if the head only showed up after Yom Tov started, but you knew it would only come then and planned on using it so it isn't muktza and you aren't a Kohein?
    – Double AA
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 17:42
  • @Shokhet follow the link. it is a shrunken human head. Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 18:39
  • @DoubleAA It would be muktzah if you had not managed to bury it before Yom Tov. If it showed up on Yom Tov, it still follows the laws of what to do with a body. Besides which, even a postcard is asur to read if it shows up on Yom Tov. Something that is asur to use in any event, cannot be used because you "plan to use it". Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 18:41
  • @sabbahillel The issue with a postcard is Techum/Nolad so I don't know why you are quoting it. What makes you think a Muktza item can't be used as a Siman anyway? Also does using it as a Siman constitute Hanaah from a Meis? Who even said the person was Jewish?
    – Double AA
    Commented Sep 21, 2014 at 19:08

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