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Perspectives - Rosh Hashana

On the first ever Rosh Hashanah, the first ever sin was committed: Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge. How incredible that our first sin was connected to food! Food that sustains us and nourishes us. Without it, we face hunger, disease, starvation and, ultimately, death. On the other hand, too much food and we face gluttony, hedonism and sacrifice our health.

The Torah is a book about relationships. Between man and his Maker; between man and his fellow man, between man and time; between man and space; and between man and food. Our relationship with food is complex and never more so than during the Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur period.

On Rosh Hashanah, we indulge and on Yom Kippur we fast. The Torah warns of extremes and yet it seems like our holidays encourage us to indulging in them? Rabbi Moshe Weinberger of the Aish Kodesh community in Woodmere, NY, explains that it is a balancing act. On Rosh Hashanah we seek to get closer to God. We dip challah/bread in honey. The very simplest of food – bread – into one of the most complex – honey. That is who we are as people: the simple combined with the complex. That is our relationship with God.

How simple would it have been to avoid the Tree of Knowledge, just walk away and eat from absolutely anything else in the garden. Yet as people, that is not who we are. We move closer to and further from God at every moment in a delicate balancing act. On Rosh Hashanah we use the tangible, the food, to symbolise our requests and wishes for the year to come. Every food is imbued with symbolism and memory. And yet, on Yom Kippur, we completely cut ourselves off from food, letting go of our physical selves and standing before God with no symbol, no aid, just bare.

Judaism is complex and that is what makes it wonderful and fulfilling, our food has so much more meaning than just something lovely to put on the table. We have included recipes that have been handed down the generations that we hope you will love. We have included the traditional symbols of apples, pomegranates, beetroots, carrots, black eyed peas, green beans, spinach, dates and fatty meats.

Wishing you a year filled with health, happiness and good taste.