It seems almost every Jewish holiday has its special foods and Rosh Hashana is no exception. In fact, it actually has more special foods than any other holiday due to the custom of eating a series of foods at the first meal of Rosh Hashana and reciting various expressions of blessings desired for the new year. The most well known custom is dipping apples in honey as a sign of a sweet year and that all judgements which may be pending should be “sweetened.”
Other foods and blessings include: pomegranate, whose many seeds allude to the increase of merits; dates and our wish to consume our enemies, fish and our prayer to be fruitful and multiply, a fish head and our request to be the head and not the tail, beets so that our adversaries be removed, a gourd so that any decree be torn up etc… Different communities include additional foods and expressions as well. Each phrase is based on either a play on words or an allusion to the corresponding food.
The eating of these foods and their appropriate idioms are called “significant omens” and there is a profound meaning in this being one of our first acts of a new year. Every day we are confronted with numerous situations and events. God in fact communicates with us through the daily circumstances of our lives. To understand the true significance of these messages we must look much deeper than the surface and learn to decipher their signs, “coincidence” and symbolism and give meaning to these occurrences. Beginning the year with eating ordinary food while concurrently attaching great importance and symbolism to each type trains us to see God’s messages and hints to us in the very fabric of our ordinary lives.