What does the Gemara mean when it says “simana milsa hee” with regards to eating the simanim on Rosh Hashanah [Horiyos 12a]? How is eating a carrot or gourd a good siman for the new year?
On Rosh Hashanah night we eat certain vegetables like carrot and leek in which the names of the vegetables seems to be a siman for good things. Why? And the answer is like this.
There’s a big question that is asked. Why do we need tefillah? When you’re thinking, Hashem knows your thoughts. Why should you have to speak it out at all? It’s a waste of energy. It’s a good kashya. And the answer is that when we speak out the words of tefillah it’s a more powerful expression then just thinking alone. Now, if you do a mai’sah it’s even more powerful. That mai’sah becomes a tefillah. It’s a mai’sah of tefillah.
So when you eat that vegetable or that fruit and you are thinking and you are saying that this year should be a shanah tova u’misuka, you’re adding a mai’sah to your tefillah and you’re making it that much more powerful. When you dip the apple in the honey, let’s say, and you say that this year should be a shanah tovah u’misuka, don’t just say it as if it’s some sort of segulah to give you a shanah mi’suka. No, not at all! It’s a very important part of tefillah. The right thing is to think, and to say, “I’m dipping this apple into the honey as a tefillah to you, Ribono Shel Olam, because I want You to give me a year that is as sweet as honey. Please give it to me. Please look at my mai’sah as a mai’sah tefillah. Please give me a sweet year.” You must think these thoughts. What?! Are you going to dip the apple in the honey the same way a little boy in cheder dips the apple?! Are you going to waste the opportunity?!
So I say to you all, “Ti’kasvu vi’seichasmu kulchem li’alter li’chayim u’li’shalom bi’sifron shel tzadikim gemurim.”