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Rosh Hashanah Codes

Rosh Hashanah Codes

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At the Rosh Hashanah meal we eat all kinds of special foods. We dip the apple in honey for a sweet year. We eat the head of a fish to be a head and not a tail, and pomegranates so that our blessings and good deeds should be as many as the seeds. These foods are called "simanim"—symbols or codes. They allude to and represent the blessings that we all pray for.

However, this practice seems a little strange. Why would we cryptically refer to the things that we wish for in the form of a symbol or a code? Why don't we just stick to explicitly asking for a sweet, prosperous, healthy year?

Perhaps one of the answers is that these symbols carry an important message for the new year.

Happiness is not proportionate to how much we possess or what we ownWe trust that G‑d will bless us all with a year of health, prosperity and an abundance of good things. But these gifts themselves do not automatically bring inner happiness and fulfillment. Happiness is not proportionate to how much we possess or what we own.

G‑d's blessings are like codes that need to be decoded to discover the hidden opportunities that lie within them. They are not an end in themselves. With each blessing that we receive we have a choice. We can use it superficially for pleasure and self-centered enjoyment, or we can use it as a means to generate goodness and bring meaning and purpose to our existence. When we choose to use our health, longevity and prosperity to help others, do another mitzvah, further our education or strengthen our relationships, then we have uncovered the hidden deep power behind the Divine gifts and blessings.

So this Rosh Hashanah G‑d will surely do His part. He will bless us with all the wonderful things represented by these foods. Let us do our part and decode the message that comes together with each blessing. It is this combination that will bring the true and real sweetness and happiness into the new year.

Rabbi Michoel Gourarie lectures on a wide range of topics with a special emphasis on Personal Growth and Self Development, including self esteem, communication and relationship building. He is the director of "Bina" in Sydney, Australia.
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