To Bee or Not To Bee?
Honey is the word. We dip apple in honey, we dip challah in honey, we wish one another Shanah Tova u’Metuka, a Happy and Sweet New Year.
Why honey? Of all the adjectives that could be applied to the year, is “sweet” the best that Judaism could do? Why not “peaceful,” or “beautiful,” or “prosperous,” or “successful,” or any other possible blessing?
Why specifically honey and why specifically sweet? What is the lesson here?
On the High Holidays, Jews who would normally not be found within a hundred yards of a synagogue, suddenly show up to connect with their Creator – and they are, more than at any other time of the year, receptive to learning something. What single, powerful lesson can a rabbi convey in this short time that will stick (no pun intended) with them throughout the year?
The answer lies in the paradox of honey. And in the dip. On one hand, honey is sweet; on the other, no one eats honey straight up. You’ve got to dip – dip your material apple in your spiritual honey.
Two stories – one from Volozhin, one from the Baal Shem Tov – convey the sweet paradox of honey in a candied way.