There are some who say that apples have healing powers, as the expression “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” teaches. This, in fact, goes all the way back to the time of King Herod (73-4 BCE), who would eat apples when feeling ill. Prayers for the new year are not only about sweetness, but also for health and well-being.
Not Only Apples
There are actually many foods that are traditionally eaten in addition to apples and honey, each with a different significance. They are known as “simanim,” which means symbols, and are usually served on Rosh HaShanah.
Simanim – Symbolic Foods
It is traditional to eat a round challah, to symbolize the cycle of the year. Fish heads are often served, to remind us to be “like the head, not the tail.” Pomegranates, with their many seeds, suggest prosperity. Other foods, such as dates, carrots, leeks, and black-eyed peas, are eaten for the way that their Hebrew or Aramaic names are a play on words that suggest blessings for the new year.