The Significance of Yom Teruah - A Day For Eating and Drinking

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XV. A Day for Eating and Drinking:

Ezra indicated that on Yom Teruah we should ...

Nehemiah 8:10 Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of HaShem is your strength."

The sages believe that this incident happened the day before Yom Teruah:

I Shmuel (Samuel) 25:4-12 While David was in the desert, he heard that Nabal was shearing sheep. So he sent ten young men and said to them, "Go up to Nabal at Carmel and greet him in my name. Say to him: 'Long life to you! Good health to you and your household! And good health to all that is yours! "'Now I hear that it is sheep-shearing time. When your shepherds were with us, we did not mistreat them, and the whole time they were at Carmel nothing of theirs was missing. Ask your own servants and they will tell you. Therefore be favorable toward my young men, since we come at a festive time (Yom Tov). Please give your servants and your son David whatever you can find for them.'" When David's men arrived, they gave Nabal this message in David's name. Then they waited. Nabal answered David's servants, "Who is this David? Who is this son of Jesse? Many servants are breaking away from their masters these days. Why should I take my bread and water, and the meat I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men coming from who knows where?" David's men turned around and went back. When they arrived, they reported every word.
Lessons to be learned:

1. This day is sacred to the Lord. Repeated three
(3) times.
2. Do not grieve. Repeated three (3) times.
3. Enjoy choice food and sweet drinks. Repeated
two (2) times.
4. Send some to those who have nothing prepared.
Repeated two (2) times.

Omen Foods

K'rithoth 6a Said Abaye: Since you hold that symbols are meaningful, every man should make it a habit to eat on New Year pumpkin, fenugreek, leek, beet and dates.

Because of this Gemara, it is a custom to eat these listed foods, as well as other foods, which represent good things. The goal of these omens is to act as a reminder. By eating all of these foods that have positive connotations, a person realizes that now is the time he needs to be asking for these good things, because now is the time he is being judged. As soon as the person realizes that now is the time that he is being judged, he will realize that omens alone will not be enough for his salvation, and that repentance is needed. Therefore, eating these omens, which are a reminder that now is the time for repentance, is extremely appropriate for Rosh HaShana.

The word for the fifth and final food "Tamri" or dates, sounds like the word "sheyitamu," "that they be consumed." Hence, we request that implores "may... our enemies be consumed.

Banana or beets
The word for the fourth food, "Silka" or beets, sounds like the "siluk," meaning "removal." We therefore request: "may our adversaries be removed."

Leeks or cabbage
The word for the third food, "Karsi," leeks or cabbage, sounds like the word "kares," "to cut off/destroy." We therefore request: "may... our enemies be destroyed."

Swiss chard
Swiss chard is called‚ Salka which sounds like disappear in Aramaic. Therefore the request is‚ “may our enemies disappear. (sometimes we use spinach leaves here)

Fenugreek, black-eyed peas, or carrots
The second food mentioned is "Rubia," or fenugreek. The word "Rubia" sounds like the word "yirbu," the word for "increase." We therefore request: "may...our merits increase."

Carrots (gezer in Hebrew) are a popular item since in Hebrew, gezer, is the same word for carrot and a decree. So we request that HaShem will with hold any evil gezar (decree).

there is also some sort of vegetable that is called "rubia" which is something like a string bean. The word "rubia" which is Aramaic is similar to the word in Hebrew, "rabu" which means, "increase". Being that this is the case, we are to take the "rubia" and ask HaShem to grant us increase. I really don't know what this is so sometimes we use string beans and sometimes we don't. In Israel they sell a small white bean that has a dark dot. The custom is that this is "rabu".

Gourd (pumpkin)
When we eat the gourd, there are two possible requests that can be said. The first goes "May it be your will HaShem that our merits be read/proclaimed before you." The other is "...that the decree of our sentence should be torn up."

Another food that is eaten is the pomegranate. The pomegranate has many cells in which the fruit surrounds the many seed. So we ask HaShem to increase our merit like the pomegranate (which has many seeds).

Ram’s head (Fish head)
Another food that is traditional to have is the head of an animal. The purpose of having a "head" on your table is not to turn your stomach, but that we should use it as a simmon; we pray to HaShem that we be the head and not the tail.

Apple in honey / sugar
Another food that we eat is honey, because of its sweet taste. We dip Chalah (holiday loaves of bread) and apples in honey. Upon eating the apple and honey, we make a request that beseeches from HaShem that "You (should) renew us for a good and sweet year."

Just like we try to eat special dishes on Rosh HaShanah, we refrain from other foods. Nuts are avoided because 1) they have a tendency to lodge in the throat, thus making proper prayer difficult and 2) because they have the same numerical equivalent (in Hebrew) as sin, which we are trying to avoid.