Letters Sept. 2023
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: Three questions:
Why don't we pray for the New moon of Tishrei like we do for other Jewish months?
Why is a Ram's horn preferred the best for shofar?
What does honey and apples and pomegranates that we eat on the Seder of Rosh Hashanah symbolize?
Rabbi: I believe the significance of the New Year obscures the New Month in its importance, so we don’t mention the New Moon on New Years..
Regarding the ram's horn: Talmud Rosh Hashanna 16a: "Rabbi Abbahu said: Why does one sound a blast with a shofar made from a ram’s horn on Rosh HaShana? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: 'Sound a blast before Me with a shofar made from a ram’s horn, so that I will remember for you the binding of Isaac, son of Abraham, in whose stead a ram was sacrificed, and I will ascribe it to you as if you had bound yourselves before Me'."
Doing so, we express our value in self-sacrifice to God like both Abraham and Isaac displayed. God in turn values our commitment to Him and grants us life.
Regarding honey and apples and pomegranates: These make us focus on a sweet year and a year of mitzvos (like 613 seeds found in the pomegranate). We have this custom to strengthen our good feelings as we start the year. "Starting" a year is of significance to man, as this feeling of "starting off good" has more capacity to sustain our good actions, than when changing our ways mid-year.