Rabbi Chanoch Wineberg: Honey — It Sticks!

by Rabbi Chanoch Wineberg
Beit Chabad, Westville

Honey is the symbol we’ve all come to know as the sweet taste of ushering in the new year. On Rosh Hashanah, the customs abound. There are special holiday greetings to wish each other and some rather peculiar items taking their places on the festive table. There’s one particular item that steals the show, and that is the honey. We dip the apple (and the challah) into this sweet and sticky treat, saying the blessing and a short prayer together.

On Passover, this would fit right into the dipping we do at the seder, “so that the children should ask.” However, on Rosh Hashanah, there are no questions. Young and old appreciate the simple focus on a sweet New Year. Just a sweet year with no “shtik!” Sweet and sticky tend to go hand-in-hand (pun intend-ed of course). So how about the stickiness? What sig-nificance does that carry for us into the New Year?

The Mishna in Avot [chapter 3:1] says, “Know from where you came, to where you are going and before whom you are destined to give a judgment and accounting.”

As we live our lives, we’re bound to come across a fork in the road or a challenge we need to overcome. The Mishna sets forth the process to follow for safety and direction. “Know from where you came” can be para-phrased to say, “(when in doubt) stick to your roots.” 

We’re actually really good at sticking to things. As a people, we’ve stuck with our tradition, including the Torah and mitzvot. We stick with the elderly in our communities, respecting their experience and guid-ance, and caring for our parents and grandparents. As individuals, we’ll always love what we grew up with. Picture the Frigidaire in your or a friend’s home, covered in magnets with all kinds of “truisms” that bring out a smile just because we know they’ll stay true forever. 

We may sometimes lose our footing. Facing a new unexpected challenge—the likes of which we’re experiencing now—we’re overwhelmed and unsettled. It’s hard to find a safe place and solid ground on which to stand. 

Go back to the sweet things that stick. Choose one thing you’re good at and keep busy with it. For those that are pros at praying, say a chapter or more of Psalms for a relative who needs it. Stick with the many sweet blessings you have. 

The news changes every day, but there’s a lot for us that doesn’t. 

Finally, the root of every Jew is the rock solid foun-dation of our nation’s Belief in G-D and sensing his constant support behind us. Stick with Him and, like all businesses, G-D likes his customers who keep coming back. Sometimes we come back to complain, but we’re His favorite customers nonetheless

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