Why do we specifically dip an apple in honey on Rosh Hashanah?
One of the primary reasons why we use an apple is because of its sweetness. Coupled with the added sweetness of the honey, it is symbolic of the ultra-sweet year we hope God will grant us.
I suppose, however, that you are asking why the apple was specifically chosen from all other fruits that are also sweet—why not, say, a peach or a mango dipped in honey?
The apple symbolizes Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), which according to the Midrash has the scent of an apple orchard, and in Kabbalah is called “the holy apple orchard.” When Isaac commented regarding his son Jacob (Genesis 27:27): “Behold, the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field, which the L-rd has blessed!”, the biblical commentator Rashi explains that this refers to the scent of an apple orchard; the scent of Gan Eden.
Furthermore, when Solomon depicts the love God harbors for His nation, he writes (Song of Songs 8:5): “Beneath the apple tree I aroused you[r love].” Eating an apple on Rosh Hashanah is an attempt to remind God of our age-old love.
May we see the blessings of the honey and the apple this year – may it be a sweet one for all.
Shana Tova U’Metukah – A Sweet New Year To All,
Founder of The Jerusalem Culinary Institute