by : Linda Dayan
Most of us are familiar with the minhag (custom) of eating the different fruits and vegetables (simanim/signs) on Rosh HaShana, which are meant to represent what kind of year we really desire. For example: we dip the apple in the honey to symbolize a sweet year. There is the old joke of a Jew who put raisins on a stalk of celery… he was hoping that H-Shem would bless him with a “raise in salary…”
Yes, it is important for us to keep our minhagim, but would it be right to do something that is not permitted from the Torah – so we can eat that symbolic date or leek?
(The following info is reprinted from
The Torah prohibits us from eating worms or any other bug. As Jewish women its our responsibility to make sure our family doesn’t ingest those miniscule critters, so therefore, as a service to our readers, we are providing information on how to check some of the simanim which we will serve on our tables in few days. Wishing you a Happy, Healthy and Kosher Year!
Given the strict Torah prohibitions against eating insects – there are five Torah commandments against eating crawling insects and six against consuming flying insects – and the tendency of bugs to find fruits and vegetables as much a part of their lifestyle as people do, it has become extremely important to check veggies and fruits for insect infestation to be certain they are kosher.
As with any agricultural product, dried fruits are subject to insect infestation concerns. The consumer should look carefully at the fruit for signs of damage, webbing, or other indicators of insect presence. Certain fruits – notably whole dried figs and dates – sometimes harbor insects in their cavities and it is advisable to split these open and scan for insects prior to eating.
Leek must be cut at the bottom, in the area of the root, and then sliced the length of the green, separating each layer. Each layer should be held under a strong stream of running water while rubbing with one’s fingers. Alternatively, one may soak in soapy water for 2-3 minutes and rinse well.
Dry Dates (Tamar Yasvesh):
One cuts open the date lengthwise, removes the pit, and holds the date against a light source, like a window or lamp and inspects it from both sides, looking for a dark insect. A dry date may exhibit white clusters, formed from sugar and these are not bug related and not problematic.
When grown regularly, the leaves are simply infested. Small worms are imbedded deep in the leaves and they are not removed by washing the leaves. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that one only use the bug-free type leaves, of course only those with a reliable hechsher (kashrut supervision). They too should be washed, in soapy water and then thoroughly rinsed.
When not using the bug-free:
Soak in cold water; add several drops of concentrated non-scented liquid detergent or vegetable wash; agitate leaves in water to wash their surface; use a heavy stream of water to remove all foreign matter and soap from surface of the leaf; check leaves under direct light.