October 27, 2020 |

New Fruit

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There is an ancient and charming custom of having new fruit at the table on Rosh Hashanah. Classically, this is due to the legal uncertainty of the status of the second day of the holiday. If the two days of Rosh Hashanah are really just one long day, as the Talmud suggests, then one would not make a blessing of שהחיינו on the second day. If, however, the holiday is in fact two separate days, then a shehechiyanu would be in order.

JUST IN CASE -- we have new fruit on the table the second night. If it turns out that the שיחיינו was not really needed, it can be applied to the fruit, thus avoiding a ברכה לבטלה, a blessing (and therefore taking of God's name) in vain.

But out of the legal discussion emerges a lovely custom, appropriate for the new year, in which we eat a fruit that we haven't eaten in a long time, which is new for us.

Additionally, there are other customs of various edibles whose names are similar to blessings we'd like for ourselves. Carrots, in Hebrew גזר (gezer), have the same root as "decrees" -- so we eat carrots and hope for good decrees.

This year I made my way to the local Korean market and picked up a few fruits that are both new, and whose names can be infused with meaning. Feel free to use these (or others) this year at your own table.

Sugar Cane (~6 feet long): May it be a sweet new year -- "ken" yehi ratzon. כן יהי רצון.
Dragon Fruit: May all draconian measures be removed from us.
Mamonicilla: May it be a year of financial prosperity. (ממון)
Longan: May our troubles be long gone.

A happy and sweet new year to us all!

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Jack Kustanowitz

Joined: July 15, 2007

Jack is an Internet professional living in Silver Spring, MD. He is a proud alum of the Frisch School in Paramus, NJ as well as Boston University, where he was active at BU Hillel.

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