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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?


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

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson is a member of the Ask the Rabbi team.
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Discussion (7)
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!
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.
Toronto, ON
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.
Baruch S. Davidson
Cape Town
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."
Toronto, Ontario/Canada
September 3, 2010
Round Chollar Bread
Why do we eat round bread on Rosh Hashonah instead of the usual braided loaf?
Elmsford, NY
October 3, 2008
we should make a wikipedia or something making Sefer Taamei Minhagim accesible to the regular person is unbeleiveable!!
November 7, 2007
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.