A Good and Sweet Year

Yael Eckstein  |  September 26, 2022

honey and apples for a sweet new year

Eat honey, my son, for it is good;    honey from the comb is sweet to your taste. — Proverbs 24:13

Today, my family will join Jews around the world in celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. As this is a non-working holiday, this devotion has been prepared in advance for you.

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is also called “the birthday of the world” in our liturgy. According to Jewish tradition, it is the anniversary of the day God created Adam and Eve, the sixth day of creation. So, it’s really the birthday of humanity. And like all of us on our own birthdays, we are happy and ready to celebrate. But, if you’re like me, birthdays are also a time to think about where I am in life, and where I’m going in the future.

With this in mind, many customs of Rosh Hashanah focus on blessing each other and praying for success and happiness in the coming year. For example, the traditional greeting for Rosh Hashanah is l’shana tova tichatev ve’techatem, “May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.”

We also eat special foods that represent the themes of the day. One of my favorite customs ever since I was a little girl is dipping an apple in honey. We do this at the start of the meal on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. After we dip an apple in honey and just before we eat it, we pray, “May it be God’s will that we have a good and sweet year.”

A Good and Sweet Year

Honey is certainly sweet. But there’s a deeper connection between honey and this prayer. Besides being very sweet, honey has a remarkable and almost unique property among foods. It does not spoil. In fact, honey can stay good for centuries, or even millennia. That’s why honey can even be used as a preservative.

When I first learned about this unique property of honey, I realized how beautiful it is that we use honey as the first food we eat on Rosh Hashanah, the food we use to begin every year. By using honey to symbolize our prayers for a “good and sweet year,” we are not asking only that the year be sweet and enjoyable. We are also praying that the goodness and sweetness of the coming year be like honey, that it should never go bad, but should stay a good and sweet year forever.

And that is my prayer for you in this coming year. May your life be filled with goodness and sweetness that never ends.

Your Turn:

Do you have goals and hopes for the coming year? What are you praying for?