For many people, the holiday of Rosh Hashana is most famous for its traditional dish of apples dipped in honey, which symbolizes a sweet new year. Yet have you ever wondered why we specifically eat apples and honey, as opposed to the plethora of sweet foods out there? What is the significance of apples and honey?
To answer this question, we must look at each food separately. There is a difference between the sweetness of an apple and the sweetness of honey. Apples are known to grow on trees and have a sweetness about them – like most fruits. Honey, however, comes from and unexpected source: bees, tiny insects that sting if you get too close. Nevertheless, the honey they produce is very sweet, even sweeter than apples.
Similarly, there are two types of “sweetness” in our lives: one type of sweetness is easily felt, such as spending time with family, making celebrations, having success in our learning, and achieving personal triumphs. This type of sweetness resembles the sweetness of an apple – a no-questions-asked type of sensation.
Yet there is another type of sweetness that is not easily discernible at first, for example, when we find challenges in life, when tragedies occur, and when we fail to reach goals we expected to. While we face these challenges they seem bitter and painful like the sting of a bee. However, if we are strong and withstand the difficult times and overcome these obstacles, we end up uncovering layers of our personality that would have stayed hidden were we never challenged. The challenge not only makes us stronger, but a better person as well. And therein lies the sweetness.
May this year bring the sweetness of apples, and “bee stings” that are even sweeter. Shanna Tova!
From a student at Midreshet Yeud