My partner and I were really excited to hear about a Jewish tradition for the first year of marriage in which newlywed couples eat honey with their challah every Shabbat. Eating honey is supposed to bring sweetness into their marriage and into their life together.
Now every Rosh Hashanah, it’s like we get to be newlyweds for a day (or two). We dip apples and round challah in honey, symbolizing the roundness of the year. As a couple, we are only newlyweds, at the starting point, for one year. But Rosh Hashanah is a starting point that comes over and over again, as we get yet another chance to dip ourselves in sweetness, optimism and hope for what is to come. Please may we be inscribed in the Book of Life. Please may we have a sweet year.
My partner shared these reflections with me this morning:
“I’m thinking about honey because it is my favorite general term of endearment for my partner. I call her ‘Honey’ because she is sweet to me, and she often makes life seem more appealing. Our interactions, her joy and wisdom, and her sweetness to me—these all reconnect me to my passion for life and commitment to flourish.
“But I was reminded earlier this week that it’s important to remember how much more she is than just honey to me. What she is to me busts out of the food metaphor entirely, since in our partnership I find the way she is nurturing so much more valuable than whatever she does that I would find nourishing. The way in which she nurtures, attends, loves—this is what a partner is for. A partner should also be honey, but not only so.
“Sweetness is essential. Without sweetness (or to broaden, without flavor), I live but I don’t thrive. Nutrients confer life; sweetness (or rather, flavor) confers pleasure—I would hardly want one without the other.
“On Rosh Hashanah, we wish each other a sweet new year, but we really want so much more.”
Let’s take time this Rosh Hashanah to think about what we want our year to be like and what we want our relationships to be like. What blessings do we want to confer on each other? In addition to the sweetness of honey, what do we need in order to live and thrive this year? Through what rituals can we usher in sex-positivity, feminism, honesty, consent and other forms of relational transformation into our lives and into our communities? I would love to hear your thoughts.