Of all the symbols of the Jewish New Year, honey is perhaps the most well-known. Every child knows the place of honey in the New Year rituals.
Thick and golden, it sits in its place of honor waiting for the moment we will dip in something as ordinary as a slice of apple or a piece of bread, knowing that when we remove them, dripping with golden syrup, they will be forever transformed into something else, something extraordinary.
When we wish for a sweet year, what are we actually hoping for? A year without any conflict, with only good things, and happy days? We all know that isn’t possible. Whether I was crying over scrapped knees at five, my father’s death at six, a boy I was interested in who didn’t know I was alive at fifteen, or a scary medical test result at sixty, every year has had its ups and downs.
What we are hoping for each New Year is not a perfect year to come, but one which will have its moments of grace; ordinary days that by the power of someone’s love will become unforgettable moments of happiness.
The way honey transforms the ordinary, covering all defects, sweetening the bland, masking the bitter, we hope God will transform our ordinary days, giving us the joy of golden moments where the memorable and unexpected intrude: a phone call from an old friend; a grandchild’s perfect report card; the taste of a delicious fruit. Unexpected, and unpredictable, such moments are dipped in golden light, giving us the best reason to be alive.
May all my friends and family experience the sweetness of life in the year to come.
May all my enemies and the enemies of Israel finally understand they are missing out on life’s greatest victories by pursuing the darkness of selfishness, egoism, and causeless hatred.
May their bitterness be replaced with sweetness, their hatred with love.