Ketivah V’Chatimah Tovah

Ketivah V’Chatimah Tovah
“May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year”.


LeShana Tova Tikateiv!
These and these are [both] words of the Living Gd!”
So explain our Sages of Blessed Memory as to how it is possible for there to be 2 valid interpretations of a particular Jewish law.  Or even a custom. Take for example the Askenazi and Nusah Sefard tradition to eat from the head of a fish on Rosh Hashanah night this Sunday night.  There are profound mystical traditions involved here.  But among many Sefardim (Iraqi especially)  this is a big “No-No.”  For Dag/fish is related to De’agah/worry, and we don’t want to have worry as a siman/sign in the beginning of the year, right?!
What is most noticeable to me a Sefardi who moves among Chabad circle concerns the use of Devash/honey.  Now, we all want to start the year off sweet.  In fact sour foods–Borsht, herring, pickles, olives–that we normally love are generally pushed off till after the 10 days.  Don’t want to have a sour year, Gd forbid!
Honey tends to flow at this time, covering tables with sticky, gloopy, goodness.  But not so at many a SefardiSeudah/meal.  Why?  Since the destruction of the Temple, our tables have taken the place of the altar.  So our eating in Holiness parallels the sacred eating and offerings of times gone by, May Temple be built with the coming of the Messiah soon in our day, Amen! There is a famous verse recited daily as part of the prayer for the incense offering:  “For any leaven or any fruit-honey, you are not to burn from them a fire-offering to Hashem.” (Wayikra 2:11).   Why do we dip bread [Lehem gematria 78 or 3 times Havaya (26) for Hassadim] into salt [Melah gematria 78 or 3 times Havaya (26) for Gevurot] 3 times [for eachHavaya of Yod and Heh and Vav and Heh]?  Because our bread stands for the sacrificial meat that was eaten with salt. 
To take the bread that we have just blessed on Rosh Hashanah, and to dip it into honey, according to the Ben Ish Hai and others, is to, kaviakol, take our offerings and mix it with the Torah-prohibited honey.  And at a time when we want to be makpid/careful about all our actions, why would we want to flaunt the Torah at this time?! 
I remember fondly being newly-observant and cognizant of this Halakhah, and being honored to break bread at a Shabbat Evening meal for a couple who were to be married in 2 days.  After we washed and I picked up the bread to bless it, the host motioned that he wanted me to dip the bread in honey and give it to the couple.  Oy! What to do?  Of course when in Rome, I mean Jerusalem’s Ashkenazik area, do like the Ashkenazim!
On reason why honey is not offered is because it stands for “Dinim Hagedulot“/ great judgments.  Why would we want to mix this into our sacrificial service to solicit Hashem’s mercy?  Too, Devash is gemataria 306, which stand for the letters Shin and Waw of the Shofar (used to encourage Hashem to move from His Throne of Judgment to His Throne of Mercy), plus the Yad(gematria 14) = 320 strong judgments that are sweetened by the Shofar. Also, we sweeten the strong judgments of Devash gematria 306 by saying the words Av HaRahaman/Merciful Father–gemataria 306–in the addition to the Gevurot (2nd) prayer of the Amidah during the 10 days of Teshuva [except inMusaf we say HaRahamim]   So honey is problematic for the mystical tradition of the Arizal through the RaShaSh.  It has no place at the Rosh Hashanah table for those adherents.
This seems to smack right up against all those who see Apples and Honey as essential elements for Rosh Hashanah.  Here’s a sweet solution:
Apples in Sugar (apple jam) (from )
Eaten on Rosh Hashanah during the Yehi Rason Seder. 

Recipe By: Traditional


6 apples
2½ tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground cardamom or cloves
½ cup water

Peel and slice dessert apples (sweet, or sweet and slightly sour). Cut into wedges, about 6 or 8 to an apple. Place in a pan, add sugar to taste, cloves or cardamom (seeds or pwder). Add water and bring to a slow boil, then simmer until softening. If the apples are fairly firm, they will remain in wedges. Cool.
Only joking!  See there are tremendous mystical energies in the dipping of apples into any sweetness including honey.  For the Tapuah/apple is considered by some to be the aspect of Malkut, related to Hakal Tapuhin Kadishin/the Field of Holy Apples, which when dipped into honey–according to many–sweetens all judgments  in the world.  That simple.
For us Sefardim, we can rely on the passuk of the Sage  R. Hayyim Pelagi in his book Moed LeKal Hai, where he gives over a wondrous intention for Sugar, which he compares to Mercy.  How?

Sugar is spelled Samek Vav Kaf Resh.

                       Kaf Vav  
  is gematria 26 for Hashem’s Name of Mercy Hawaya

                       Samek Resh  

is gematria 260 for 10 times 26 of Hawaya.
Sugar is complete Mercy:  Hawaya and 10 times Hawaya!
[One could say that as Sugar {Sukar in Hebrew} is 11 times Havaya, this would have the same effect as the 11 spices of the incense.  This contrasts to the honey, which in our daily incense recitation is particularly excluded]
So, guess why my kids love the first 3 weeks of Tishre?  On our table we have a big bowl of sugar in which after washing and saying HaMotzi, we dip first the bread in salt [see above] and then sugar.  For me, I say “Let them eat cake!”

May this year be the sweetening of all harsh and soft judgements.

Download Order_of_Sefardi_Rosh_Hashanah_Kiddush_Service

May the food meditations help to enliven the Holy Sparks in all your consumption. Download Food Meditations.

May the readings from Lashon Hakamim be sweet in your mouths.

Download Lashon Hakamim


Speaking of Honey, this is a really sweet Torah from Breslov Research Institute.  Beteavon/to your appetite!

Dvar Torah for Rosh HaShanah

Based on Likutey Halakhot, Beheimah v’Chayah Tehorah 4:45–46

Why do we eat honey with the challah and with the apple the first
night of Rosh HaShanah? Every Jew knows it’s a siman, a sign, that
we should have a sweet year. (It’s a testament to our faith that we
believe that our eating honey has theurgical effect.) But there’s an
even more powerful message in that sweet bite.

For a Jew, one of the most amazing things about honey is that it is
kosher. Bees are not kosher, yet the honey they produce is. No other
non-kosher animal or bird can make that claim! This is even more
amazing when we consider that there’s no procedure or mitzvah that we
need to do to make it kosher.

Reb Noson explains that in the on-going journey that mankind is
making, there are two broad categories of tikkunim, rectifications,
that are being made. There are those that we the people are
responsible for, and those that God is doing. We’re supposed serve
Him and obey. We do what we can, imperfectly because we are only
human, and God finishes the job.

But being human we don’t always do what we’re supposed to.
Sometimes our mistakes are unintentional, but sometimes—and let’s
be honest here—they’re quite intentional. How can our mistakes
bring us, as individuals and as a species, to our desired destiny? Reb
Noson quotes Rebbe Nachman who said, “God is constantly getting the
job done.”* What Rebbe Nachman meant, explains Reb Noson, is that no
matter how badly a person or the human race botches the job, God will
fix and steer things to the ending He wants**—if and when we do
teshuvah (return).

That’s the lesson of the honey. We haven’t been so kosher for much
too long a time. Yet, somehow, in some mysterious, unfathomable way,
God can forgive us and bring us in.


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