For Rosh Hashanah, here is a supplemental post to bless your understanding while you begin a year that is good and sweet. This post includes some of the traditional items from the New Year celebration table and explains the meanings. This holiday represents the day the Lord said was the new year and the day He began creation – so this isn’t a Jewish holiday. It is the Lord’s day. Maybe you will want to include some of these in your meal tomorrow night? I am posting tonight, so you have time to go purchase anything you might need.
Round Challah (bread) – bread symbolizes the sin of the last year, round symbolizes the year is complete and finished. The 12 disciples understood that one of the symbols, bread represented, was sin. So when they saw Jesus break the bread, say it was His body, (and of course after the work of the cross was complete) they understood, He took our sins and the work He set out to accomplish is complete.
Note: *Some people do not eat the challah bread. Instead they break off piece and recall a sin, a struggle, an unforgiveness that is struggled with, or anything else they are giving to God. Then they symbolically attach it to the piece of bread and prayerfully throw it in a river to have it taken away from them. And repeat piece by piece.
Challah Ceremonial Covering – recalls the Biblical scene the day before the Sabbath, of the Israelites collecting their manna for the day and covering the Shabbat portion to keep it. It represent not only God’s provisions but His ability to preserve us as well. It also represents God covering our sins, as we saw the bread represents our sins.
Pomegranate (but on my table I have Pomegranate Jam) – It was once believed that each pomegranate had 613 seeds the same number as the number of the laws – they have been sweetened and turned into jam because we are transformed under grace. This fruit is full of seeds – each one symbolic of new beginnings, new life, and new trees (and all the meanings of trees are also carried within this symbol – from the tree of life, to the tree Jesus died on, to us being the branches). The pomegranate is also a symbol of the Garden of Eden, as displayed in the temple, and since the new year falls on the day God created the earth – it helps us reflect on the goal God has of restoring His relationship with man, to the kind we shared in the Garden. The fruit also represents our original sin – reminding us to stay humble.
Apples – having similar symbolic meanings to the pomegranate (like representing the original sin); and being in season on new year’s day, it is believed that is how the apple became a symbol at Rosh Hashanah. Unlike the complexity of the Pomegranate, the apple simply represents the washing of sins as it is covered in honey at the feast, washing away the sin and making it new and sweet in the eyes of the Lord.
Honey – symbolizes prosperity and abundance from God as well as being considered a blessing for a sweet new year. It was used to preserve fruits and as an embalming material – so it also represents keeping and cherishing. It was also valued as medicine – so honey also became a symbol of healing. To drizzle honey on an apple slice is a symbol of grace – turning the original sin into the blessing of health (healing) and abundance for the year to come.
Raisins – symbolizes the bountiful blessings of the past and how God can provide again. They represent the blessing being preserved. And then their sweetness blesses our new year with thoughts of God’s love. As God loved the grape enough to making them sweeter with age, God loves us enough to sweeten our futures.
Candle(s) – obviously a symbol of light, being able to see, and pointing to the hope of Jesus – who is the way, the truth and the light.
As we are reading through Ezekiel and learning about symbols – we see how important symbols are to God’s communication with us – and it is important to remember the symbols in holidays as God instructed.