[Ed. Note] Out of the respect and recognition of the impact made by longtime BJL friend and contributor, Reb Shaya Gross, z’l, we will maintain a living memoriam to Shaya through the sweet words and thoughtful insights of his Divrei Torah. BJL readers will remember his weekly column on the Parsha and on various Torah ideas and concepts. These meaningful words will help us remember this special young man who will be sorely missed and for those who did not merit to know him, this will be the most appropriate way for them to become familiar with who he was.
As is our custom on Rosh Hashana night, we dip the apple into honey as a merit to have a sweet new year. The Avnei Nezer explains that the reason we use honey is because honey comes from bees that sting us and cause us pain.
The obvious question is that if we are trying to signify something sweet, why should we choose something which is acquired with such pain? In order to get the honey out of the beehive, a person has to cover himself up as much as possible and then take the honeycombs out of the hive. The bees are not happy and find a way to get under his protective clothing and sting him. It is a lot of work and causes him tremendous pain. Why should this be the symbol of a sweet new year?
Rabbi Yisroel Reisman explains that something which is easily sweet is just not sweet, it is not the sweetness that human beings experience. Sweetness is something which comes with hard work. Something which comes with a few bee stings attached to it. Life and success in life comes about with sacrifice. That is why we use honey from bees to symbolize that just as honey is acquired through suffering and hard work but ends up being sweet, so too, the pain and suffering that we endured this past year will be the sweetness of our future.
A second thought: I heard a beautiful thought from Rabbi Yosef Berger (a Rav in Baltimore). Rabbi Berger said that when Rosh Hashana is approaching, people will often reflect on all the bad things that happened in the past year to themselves or to people they know. They think about all the people who died or experienced sickness etc. But they neglect to think about all the good that Hashem has bestowed on them as well. The countless births, marriages of young and older singles, simchos, parnasah, etc. He said that we have to keep in mind all the good things that happen to us and that if we would think about how much good Hashem does for us on a daily basis, we would feel indebted to Hashem and act differently.
May we all use these precious upcoming days to get closer to Hashem and daven for all the things we need and to recognize that Hashem is our King and can do anything and through that merit, the ultimate Geulah with the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days!
Ksivah Vchasimah Tovah!