Wishes for a Sweet New Year

September 01, 2021

Wishes for a Sweet New Year

Eating apples and honey is one of the most well-known traditions for Rosh Hashanah. But that is just for starters! There is challah in honey, carrots with honey, honey cake, and teiglach (if you’re below a certain age, you might have to look that one up). Regardless of how you like your honey, we eat it and other such foods on Rosh Hashanah in the hopes that the coming year will be filled with sweetness.

A story is told in the Talmud about a man who refused to harvest honey. As he looked upon the swarming hive, he concluded: ‘I’ll do without the honey and the sting’. . Israeli song writer Naomi Shemer used that midrash to write the well-known song, "Al Kol Eleh", on all these things... on the honey and the sting, on the bitter and the sweet, Dear God of Goodness, keep all these things for me...

Though there are a great many other sources of sweetness that we could consume, the choice of honey for Rosh Hashanah is purposeful. Dipping into honey reminds us not only about the potential for sweetness in our lives, but it also forces us to recognize the inevitability of the ‘stings’.

I hope you have a good long list of sweetness from the past year: family reunions after periods of isolation and separation; good health, professional accomplishments and even new hobbies such as gardening or bread baking.

Chances are, you’ve also experienced some ‘stings’: personal disappointments, deaths of dear ones, physical or mental declines, the stresses of living and working within a global pandemic.

Rosh Hashanah is also known as Yom Hazikaron; the day of Remembrance. We look back on the year to assess and evaluate our deeds, recalling gains and losses we incurred, the stings and the sweetness. This year, as we dip our apples in honey may we resolve to live our lives most fully, ready for the stings, looking forward to the sweetness to come. L’shanna Tova

- Rabbi Judith Beiner, JF&CS Community Chaplain