Exploring Rosh Hashanah’s Honeyed Traditions

The first of the Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah is a time of prayer, remembrance, festivities, and of course, sweet delicious food! During this two-day holiday, we celebrate the start of the Jewish New Year with special services (don’t forget your Machzors!), Shofar blowing, exciting new fruits, and apples dipped in honey. There’s also a fish head somewhere, but let’s focus on sweeter things for now, shall we?

In the Talmud, it states that on Rosh Hashanah, the Three Heavenly Books of Judgement are opened and the fates of everyone are sealed. While this may seem like a scary prospect, it is actually treated as a reason for celebration as it is assumed that we are all marked down in the Book of Life after completing the special prayer services for Rosh Hashanah and hearing the Shofar. With our judgments sealed for another year, we can now concentrate our efforts on making the upcoming year our best yet!

In addition to the prayer services and Shofar blowing, on Rosh Hashanah, we also light candles, refrain from work, and sit down to special ‘Seders’ where an array of unique foods is served to symbolize the different aspirations we have for the coming New Year. We eat apples and bread dipped in sweet, sticky honey to symbolize a sweet new year, pomegranates so that the merits of our good deeds will be multiplied, new fruits so we can recite the Shehecheyanu blessing, and many other foods for peace, prosperity, and blessing.

Therefore, with only a few short weeks left before the start of Jewish New Year, now is the time to begin preparing ourselves for Rosh Hashanah by remembering what this incredible holiday represents. We are not only getting a second chance to bust out those dusty New Year’s resolutions we made back in January, but we are also getting a chance to cleanse our souls and connect to Hashem more deeply than we do most of the year. It may be an opportunity for both celebration and serious self-reflection, but ultimately, Rosh Hashanah is a holiday of renewal, of spiritual awakening, and of looking ahead towards our future!