Apples and Honey are perhaps the most symbolic foods of Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year. A traditional Rosh Hashanah Seder (yup I said seder) is a “program” run through at the start of a Rosh Hashanah meal, where we partake of a series of symbolic foods (the simanim) each followed by a specific blessing.
Simanim – literally means signs or indicators – that are meant to point the way to improved circumstances.
Observant Jews take this quite seriously, preceding their consumption of these foods on Rosh Hashanah with a specific, heartfelt prayer connected to the character of the food.
And you all know the prayer that follows the apple dipped in honey. “May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that You renew for us a good and sweet year.” We all get that sweet year honey connection -- but why do we eat apples on Rosh Hashanah?
When Yaakov masqueraded as Eisav to obtain his rightful “firstborn” blessing from his father, Yitzchak, he donned Eisav’s cloak. Yitzchak exclaimed, “the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field that G-d had blessed” and blessed Yaakov. The Talmud identifies the fragrance as an apple orchard, and the Vilna Gaon says this happened on Rosh Hashanah. We eat apples (tons of them) because we too want those holy blessings given to Yaakov.
Since the custom of eating apples revives our memory of Biblical blessings, let’s combine it with a more recent, beloved tradition. Nu, what’s a Yuntif without brisket?