Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Apples bring up many, sometimes conflicting, associations. It may or may not be a biblical fruit, depending on how one translates the Biblical word, tapuach. But apples have certainly made their way into Jewish tradition nevertheless, even as they may be even more celebrated in Christianity. As it is the Christians who frequently represented it as the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, even when there was almost no such association in our tradition. Interestingly, it is not one of the fruits for which the Torah praises the Land of Israel. So, it is no surprise that the custom of eating apples on Rosh Hashana did not originate in Israel but in France or Germany.

Hence it seems then that the Jewish people’s appreciation of apples is something they only fully internalized when so many were in Europe. Of course, G-d’s kindness is not limited to what he does in the Land of Israel. The multi-sensual pleasure connected with any fruit can be an uplifting religious experience, wherever it comes from. Something to remember the next time we say, borei pri ha’etz!

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Rabbi Francis Nataf (www.francisnataf.com) is a veteran Tanach educator who has written an acclaimed contemporary commentary on the Torah entitled “Redeeming Relevance.” He teaches Tanach at Midreshet Rachel v'Chaya and is Associate Editor of the Jewish Bible Quarterly. He is also Translations and Research Specialist at Sefaria, where he has authored most of Sefaria's in-house translations, including such classics as Sefer HaChinuch, Shaarei Teshuva, Derech Hashem, Chovat HaTalmidim and many others. He is a prolific writer and his articles on parsha, current events and Jewish thought appear regularly in many Jewish publications such as The Jewish Press, Tradition, Hakira, the Times of Israel, the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Action and Haaretz.