Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Why Apples?

Rabbi Jay Spero

Why do we eat an apple on Rosh Hashana? Sure an apple is sweet, but so are grapes. What is special about the apple?

When Yakov came in to receive the brocha from Yitzchok, Yitzchok smelled
the scent of Yakov's clothing, and said, "see the smell of my son is
like the smell of a field" (Toldos 27:27). Rashi quotes the Gemara in Ta'anis that says that Yaakov smelled like an apple orchard. The Shelah writes that this is why we use on apple on Rosh Hashana.

What is the significance of a Tzadik (Yaakov Aveinu) smelling like an
apple orchard? What is the reasoning behind the Shelah's comment?
The Gemara in Shabbos (88a) asks what is the meaning of the posuk in Shir
Hashirim (2:3): "Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest"? The
Gemara answers that this refers to the Jewish people, that just as an
apple tree is unique in that its fruit comes before its leaves (unlike
other trees whose leaves come before its fruit), so too the Jewish
people, who said "we will do and we will listen" (na'aseh v'nishma) are
unique-- unlike other nations who want to know what they are accepting
before they accept it.

Tosfos questions the Gemara and states that this posuk in Shir Hashirim
is not referring to the Jewish people, but to Hashem ? Tosfos does not offer
an answer (but suggests a different posuk in Shir Hashirim).

However, the Nefesh Hachaim gives a beautiful answer. Shir Hashirim is a
series of dialogues between the Jewish people and the Hashem. The Nefesh
Hachaim explains that if the Jewish people perceived Hashem to be similar
to an apple tree, that is because the Jewish people are similar to an apple
tree. The Gemara in Brochos (6a) explains that just as we wear Tefilin
that expound on the oneness of Hashem (Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokeinu
Hashem Echad), so does Hashem wear Tefilin that expounds on the oneness
of His beloved nation (Who is like Yisroel, a unique nation in the world;
Divre Hayamim 1). This shows that Hashem gave us a tremendous gift: the
ability to have a reciprocal relationship with Him. That is how we have
the awesome responsibility on Rosh Hashana to crown Hashem as King.

And when Hashem sings our praises and says we are special,because we had
so much trust in Him that even before we knew what was in the Torah we
were willing to accept it, what is the reciprocal side of this? When
Hashem was willing to give us the Torah based on our acceptance, even
before there was act, because He had trust in us. This illuminates the
special relationship we have with Hashem, and when we eat the apple
this Friday night, we must contemplate while eating the apple the
uniqueness of this relationship.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The meeting of Yaakov Avinu and Yitzchak Avinu reffered to here, took place on (Erev)Pesach (see Rashi)if so,is there a connection between Pesach and Rosh Hashono directly regarding the Apple Orcahrd? Also, what is the smell of the "field"? Is it the field that is actually fragrant? Another possible explanation is: the posuk of "Tachas hatapuach orarticha" refers to the special effort of the jewish women in Mitzrayim to attract their spouses to intimacy in that time of severe judgement. The apple symbolizes our initiation for intimacy with Ha Kodosh Boruch Hu at this time of great judgement.

Anonymous said...

The Gaon brings down the Zohar which says that birchas Yitzchok ocurred on Yom Kippur (one goat brought by Yakov was for Hashem, the other for Azazel) . This relates to the machlokes of when the world was created, in Nissan or Tishrei. I think your pshat is emes.

Anonymous said...

From lazer beams the 1st post explained
The Creator's Autograph: The Apple

Have you ever seen The Almighty's signature? Like artist who proudly signs a masterpiece, look how Hashem signs His name in one of his prize creations, the apple:

Hebrew letters of G-d's Holy Name





Letter name in English





Numerical value





Corresponding parts of the apple

Exocarp points


Shape of the stem and endocarp

Vibrant seeds

Apple1 Cross-section of an apple, clearly showing the ten-pointed exocarp, the five carpels, and the five seeds.

Applefruitbiodidacrgblab_small Notice how the stem together with the endocarp (center, red) forms perfect number "six", which turned upside down becomes a superb letter "vav". So, together with the carpels, seeds, and exocarp points, we get the equivalent of the Ineffable Name, yud - hey - vav - hey, which has a numerical total of 26.

Now, let's take a look at The Creators signature in an apple blossom, while the fruit is being created:

26pyrus Every apple blossom has exactly 26 stamen. What, you don't yet believe that Hashem created the apple and all the rest of us? C'mon...

By looking at the apple, one can no longer deny the existence of The Creator. His signature is all over the place. By the way, apples are one of the most perfect nutritional foods that exists on the face of the earth. Apples have been shown effective in fighting cancer cells and efficient in improving the health of the lungs, heart, and cardiovascular system.

If you replace your junk-food intake with 2 or 3 apples a day, and your spiritual junk-food intake (web, TV, movies) with Torah learning, you'll discover that you'll soon look better and feel better. I want you to live a healthy and happy life until 120, amen.

Thanks to the state agriculture extension and marketing services of Virginia, Washington, Illinois, and Michigan for the technical information and photos. The spiritual ideas for this post - as well as the gematrias (numerograms) - came in to my head today during a personal prayer session.