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On the night of Rosh Hashanna, there is a custom to eat various foods whose names sound like something associated with Rosh Hashanah. These names can be in one language, and they make a blessing in Hebrew using a Hebrew word that sounds like the word in the other language.

For example, I have heard that some people eat livers because the Yiddish word is leiberlach and this sounds like lev - meaning "heart". They make a blessing that G-d should give us a "good heart" (i.e. - we should be sensitive and not stubborn so we can do mitzvoth.)

Can one, therefore, make up their own signs based on this schema? For example, can one drink Schaefer beer on Rosh Hashannah, because the word "Schaeffer" sounds like "shofar"?

  • judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/2713/… indicates that there's an answer to this in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. – Isaac Moses Mar 1 '17 at 15:48
  • @IsaacMoses Hmmm ... I don't know your policy on this one. Dupe of a closed question that was closed for "Unconstructive"? – DanF Mar 1 '17 at 15:50
  • It wouldn't be a duplicate even if that post was not closed. That question presupposes an answer to this one; it doesn't ask the same question. – Isaac Moses Mar 1 '17 at 15:52
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    Why would it be forbidden, other than the issue of forbidden superstitious activities, in which case it should nevertheless be no different from simanim invented by others. – mevaqesh Mar 1 '17 at 15:56
  • "can one drink Schaefer beer on Rosh Hashannah, because the word "Schaeffer" sounds like 'shofar'?" What would that be a sign for? – Double AA Mar 1 '17 at 16:27
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Rabbi Heinemann in Baltimore has answered your question as yes you may. For example, a lettuce, half of a raisin, and celery

Lettuce half a raisin celery

Let us have a raise in salary

I should note that he has mentioned this at various shiurim and has written it up in different places. In fact, it is now a well known statement. For example,

The Deeper Meaning Behind The Yehi Ratzones/Simanim

It has become a great game which I love to play using word plays in different languages not just in Hebrew. For example Rabbi Heinemann introduced a now famous custom throughout the Jewish world to take lettuce, half a raisin and celery as an indication to “let us have a raise in salary”. The Rubissa likes to put out cinnamon cookies and say “may our sins be kept to a minimum”. I am sure that you can all come up with your own funny puns for your own tables.

Simanim on Rosh Hashanah has an answer that cites this and show other simanim that are used.

I grew up in Baltimore and it was common knowledge (through his children) that he did this siman at his table on Rosh HaShanah. – Yahu Sep 8 '10 at 22:10

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The Aruch Hashulchan at the beginning of siman 583 seems to say this.

והולכין בזה כפי לשון המדינה. ולכן אצלינו מבשלין ריב''ן, מערי''ן, וקירבע''ס, שחושבין זה לקרא, וקרוי''ט, שזהו כמו קרא, וכיוצא באלו. וכל מקום לפי מנהגו. ומדגים – יש מהדרים אחר מין דג שקורין ''כרת'', והוה כמו כרתי. וכל דבר טוב – אנו אומרים ה''יהי רצון'' על עצמינו, ואם להיפך – אומרים על שונאינו. 

First he mentions that the regular yehi ratzon word like kara should be applied to the food which is called by that name in whatever country you live.

But afterwords he mentions that any good item should be applied to us, while any bad item should be applied to our enemies. These words seem to be saying to invent our own simanim.

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