What does the Gemara mean when it says סימנא מילתא היא 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, so why should you have to speak it out at all? It seems like a waste of energy. And actually, it’s a good kasha.
And the answer is that when we speak out the words of tefillah it’s a more powerful expression then just thinking alone. It makes more of an impression on your mind when you speak out words. Now, if you do a ma’aseh, an act, then it’s even more powerful. That ma’aseh becomes a 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 ma’aseh 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 shana tova u’misuka, don’t just say it as if it’s some sort of segulah to give you a sweet year. No, not at all! The act of dipping it in the honey and taking a bite of that apple is 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 ma’aseh as a ma’aseh tefillah. I’m dipping the apple in the honey as a prayer to You: 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?!
Now, our time is up for tonight, so I say to you all: תכתבו ותחתמו כולכם לאלתר לחיים ולשלום בספרן של צדיקים גמורים
TAPE #E-247 (September 2000)