A Message from Rabbi Menachem Weissmann, Menahel / Head of School (9-14-23)

Rabbi Menachem Weissmann's picture

Dear Parents,

Dip the apple,
In the honey,
Make a bracha,
Loud and clear.
“L’shana Tova U’Mesuka”
Have a happy, sweet new year.

This childhood favorite revolves around the custom of simanim, the signs that we perform on the night of Rosh HaShanah as a tefilla to Hashem that the year is a sweet one. The symbolism of honey then, is obvious.

But what about the apple? Wouldn’t it be more apropos to take something bitter, say some maror, dip it into honey and symbolize that, although the year may be destined for bitterness, Hashem should make it sweet? Why do we take something that, in its essence, is already sweet?

Rav Yaakov Galinsky zt”l explains: The basis for man to receive good from Hashem is to recognize the good that Hashem bestows upon him. We find that rain did not fall until Adam was created and could, in the words of Rashi, recognize the good that rain brings. As the Maharal there explains, Hashem does not do good for somebody until He sees that they are makir tov, that they acknowledge and are thankful for the good that they receive.

Why do we dip an apple in honey? Because our lives are good. Indeed, we all have much to be thankful for. Do we have pains and sorrows, sometimes terrible ones? Yes. But, even in the worst of times, our lives have purpose and meaning, and serve to elevate ourselves to a higher level. We need to recognize the fact that life is sweet like an apple. Would we like some honey? Yes! We want it to be overpoweringly full of sweetness! But we must recognize the sweetness of the apple as well.

As we daven for the upcoming year, let us look back at the sweetness of the past year, and give Hashem thanks for that. Only then can we ask for the honey, the addition, to the beautifully sweet lives that we already possess.

Have a good Shabbos and L’shana Tova Tikasevu,
Rabbi Weissmann
Menahel/Head of School