A Divergence In Minhagim?
Sichos HaRan #9:
In the name of the Baal Shem Tov "A knife should not be given as a gift." If you have a friend, do not present him with a knife.
Some Chassidim and men of deeds have a custom to purchase a new knife, Erev Rosh Hashanah (Nitei Gavriel 11:10)
QUESTION: What is the reason for the custom of purchasing a new sharp knife before Rosh Hashanah?
ANSWER: The final letters of the words, "Potei'ach et yadecha" - "You open up your hand" - spell the word "chatach" - "cut" - which is the name of the Angel in charge of parnasah - livelihood. Also, the word "u'masbe'a" - "and satisfy [the desire of every living being]" - which follows afterwards in the pasuk (Psalms 145:16) has the numerical value of four hundred and twenty-eight which is also the numerical value of "chatach." Thus, the acquiring of a new sharp knife is considered a "segulah" - something spiritually propitious - for parnasah, which we request on Rosh Hashanah for the entire coming year.
Received via e-mail from Rabbi Avraham Bloomenstiel:
I just read this post and am somewhat confused. What is the divergence in minhagim? Perhaps the title is misleading?
There is no actual divergence in minhagim; Rabbenu Za"l wrote against giving a knife as a gift, but not against buying a sharp new one on erev Rosh Ha-Shanna.
In Uman, there are always several tables or booths out with persons selling new knives and whet stones for sharpening erev Rosh ha-Shanna davka because of the segula mentioned in the post. The rebbe was not against using knives for seguolos (see Sefer ha-Middos: Bayis II:8, Shochet II:5, Segulah B7, B10, etc.). The only issue is giving one as a present.