Apple in honey (illustrative)
Apple in honey (illustrative)iStock

Rabbi Ben Zion Mutzafi, a leading Sephardic rabbi, told a student not to eat the traditional apple dipped in honey on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Kikar Hashabbat reported.

On Wednesday night, one of Rabbi Mutzafi's students asked him, "Dear honored rabbi, do Sephardic Jews have a custom to eat an apple in honey on Rosh Hashanah? Because my grandfather said no."

In his response, Rabbi Mutzafi wrote, "'Ask your father, and he will tell you; your elders, and they will inform you.' (Deuteronomy 32:7) The grandfather is absolutely right. To this day, we the sons of the communities of the east do not have a custom to eat honey on Rosh Hashanah. Rather, we cook some type of fruits or vegetables in sugar, and eat it."

He explained, "According to the Kabbalah, honey represents the trait of justice, which should not be aroused on Rosh Hashanah, because its color is yellowish gold. Its numerical value is also reminiscent [of this], with the letters shin and vav (equaling 306) from the letters of [the word] shofar, which are sweetened by the shofar blasts, and with 14 knuckles of the fingers which hold the shofar, which [together with shin and vav] are the numerical equivalent of shin and kaf (320), which are judgements as mentioned in Edera Rabba in the Holy Zohar. And [this is] as our teachers the Arizal (Rabbi Yitzhak Luria - ed.) and the Rashshash (Rabbi Shalom Sharabi - ed.) wrote, and you can look this up in Shofar Betzion."

Each of the Hebrew letters has a numerical value, called gematriya. The first ten letters represent the numbers 1-10, with the next letters representing 20, 30, 40, and so on, until the letter kuf, which has a value of 100. The three final letters, reish, shin, and taf, have numerical values of 200, 300, and 400, respectively.