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Why do we specifically dip an apple in honey on Rosh Hashanah?

Why do we specifically dip an apple in honey on Rosh Hashanah?

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One of the primary reasons why we use an apple is because of its sweetness. Coupled with the added sweetness of the honey, it is symbolic of the ultra-sweet year we hope G‑d will grant us.

I suppose, however, that you are asking why the apple was specifically chosen from all other fruits that are also sweet—why not, say, a peach or a mango dipped in honey?

The apple symbolizes Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), which according to the Midrash has the scent of an apple orchard, and in Kabbalah is called “the holy apple orchard.” When Isaac commented regarding his son Jacob (Genesis 27:27), "Behold, the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field, which the L‑rd has blessed!" the biblical commentator Rashi explains that this refers to the scent of an apple orchard, the scent of Gan Eden.

Furthermore, when Solomon depicts the love G‑d harbors for His nation, he writes (Song of Songs 8:5): “Beneath the apple tree I aroused you[r love].” Eating an apple on Rosh Hashanah is an attempt to remind G‑d of our age-old love.

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson is a writer who lives with his family in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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Wendy schottenstei Jerusalem October 7, 2016

From rosh hashana till after succot my family has challah with honey instead of salt. Over rosh Hashanah we ate with a family (sephardi) that used just salt and and another that first used salt and then honey Reply

Mark Willis Avondale September 24, 2014

Rosh Hannah Interesting Reply

Jean Indianapolis, IN September 18, 2014

Apples "The Zohar writes that the apple is singled out to describe the connection of G-d and the Jews because it is excellent in color, aroma and taste."

Menachem - one of the other things about apples is that they come in all sizes, shapes, several colors (from gold to a ruddy brown), have complex flavor combinations and can survive in many different environments. So similar to the Jewish people! Reply

levi rapoport ny September 18, 2014

NOT the tree of knowledge " The apple symbolizes Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden)" lets clarify that all opinions agree that the tree of knowledge from which Adam and Eve ate was NOT An apple Reply

Anonymous near Utah, USA via chabadsa.org.au September 17, 2014

Very interesting Penny and Menachem Reply

Anonymous September 15, 2014

This is great. Touches all depths of meaning. Thank you! And thanks for the round challah explanation in the discussion section, too! Reply

Penny Toronto, ON September 18, 2012

Apples and Honey I was told that we eat apple because it grows first from the tree without any leaves so it is exposed and vulnerable so we too are vulnerable and should look to G-d and the Torah for protection. Honey comes from bees and when we get a sting and survive the sting the honey is even sweeter. Please comment as to the truth or belief of this. Reply

Baruch S. Davidson Cape Town September 13, 2010

Re: Round Challah One reason brought for the custom to eat round loaves of challah on Rosh Hashana is because Rosh Hashanah is the day of G-d's coronation, when he is crowned as King over us and the entire world. Thus, it is appropriate to make round challot, which resemble a crown. Reply

Anonymous Toronto, Ontario/Canada September 5, 2010

The best verse for apples? Rabbi Davidson wrote "Furthermore, when Solomon depicts the love G‑d harbors for His nation, he writes (Song of Songs 8:5): "Beneath the apple tree I aroused you[r love]."

But as Menachem posted, there is a similar verse that mentions sweet apples. The end of the verse specifies that the fruit is sweet.

Song of Songs, chapter 2, verse 3. "As an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the sons; in his shade I delighted and sat, and his fruit was sweet to my palate." Reply

Anonymous Elmsford, NY September 3, 2010

Round Chollar Bread Why do we eat round bread on Rosh Hashonah instead of the usual braided loaf? Reply

Anonymous October 3, 2008

wow!! we should make a wikipedia or something making Sefer Taamei Minhagim accesible to the regular person is unbeleiveable!! Reply

Menachem November 7, 2007

Apples Another explanation which I came across is that the pile of ash on the altar was called the Tapuach (apple). On Rosh Hashana we remind Hashem of the sacrifices brought by our ancestors especially that of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac and the consequent ram which took his place. This is why those who eat the ram’s head do so after dipping the apple in honey.

A possible reference may be made to Zohar III 74a where the verse ‘Like an apple among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons (Song of Songs 2:3)” is discussed. The Zohar writes that the apple is singled out to describe the connection of G-d and the Jews because it is excellent in color, aroma and taste. Reply

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