Many Rosh Hashanah symbols include food. This is because on Rosh Hashanah you really are-or hope to be-what you eat.
We take a food that has a name sounding like something that will benefit us, and make a pun that is really a request to Hashem for that thing. We then eat that food as if to make their symbolic meaning part of us. We hope to experience these good omens in the new year. Learn about the basis for this practice here.
Pomegranate, because of its many seeds.
May our merits be as numerous as the seeds of a pomegranate!
Leeks, in Aramaic: karasi, which also means “to cut off.”
May our enemies be cut off!
Carrots, in Yiddish meheren, which also means “increase.”
May our merit increase!
Beets, in Aramaic, silka, which also means “remove,”
May our adversaries be removed!
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Dates, in Aramaic, tamrai, which sounds like “consume,”
May our adversaries be consumed!
Gourd (such as pumpkin, winter squash), in Aramaic, kara, which also means “tear & proclaim”
May our sentences be torn and our merits proclaimed!
Fish or Sheep Head, because of the verse in Devarim:
“…Hashem shall place you as a head (strong) and not as a tail (weak)”
May we be like the head and not like the tail!
Any food that carries an association in any language works just as well, so you can have fun with this practice:
Chicken livers, in Yiddish, leberlach, which sounds like “live honestly.”
May our children always live honestly!
Celery and raisins, in English, sounds like a “raise in salary.”
May Hashem provide for us a raise in salary!