Rav Moshe Shternbuch – Crying On Rosh Hashanah: Is it Permitted?


reb_moshe_shternbuch1It is written in the Maaseh Rav that the Vilna Gaon said that one is not permitted to cry on Rosh Hashanah. His mekor is the posuk in Nechemia which states, “Al tisablu ve’al tivku…lechu Iichlu MasmanimDo not mourn and do not cry… go eat good food.” Rosh Hashanah is a day of happiness and celebration.

The Arizal, on the other hand, says that every person with a good neshama must cry on Rosh Hashanah. Are they arguing?Rav Moshe Shternbuch in his teshuvos (2:268) says that they do not argue. The Vilna Gaon is talking about crying from the fear of Yom Hadin and having the overall mindset that Rosh Hashanah is a day of gloom and doom. However, if the tears come automatically from inspiration and longing for Hashem during tefillah, then not only is it permissible, it is praiseworthy. Outside of tefillah, the mood of the day must be happiness and celebration of the Yom Tov.

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  1. The Pesukim in Nechemia do not mention the word Rosh Hashanah or the fact that it’s a Yom Hadin, nor is Tekiyas Shofar mentioned.
    They even skipped right over the Yom Hakippur and went staight to Succos, wondering what your supposed to do on Succos.
    We, now, know that it was Rosh Hashana, but the Pesukim are focusing on that first day of Tishrei which was the first day that the Bais Hamikdosh was ready, and people became emotional.

  2. The point is not that you can not cry but that you must be happy and cheerful. Should there be a reason for mourning, one would imagine it would certainly be permitted. Emotions are often justified.