top of page

Why "sweet" and not "happy"?

ראש השנה - The head of the year

Yep in Hebrew the word “ראש” = head.

This word is significant and special, affecting many words and terms in Hebrew:

The first/upper part of things (nouns):

ראש ההר – top of the mountain

ראש המיטה – headboard

ראש העץ – top of the tree

Addressing leaders – someone walking first / in front of the group:

ראש העיר - mayor

ראש הממשלה - prime minister

יושב ראש - chairman

Words and phrases related with time and placing:

ראשון - Sunday, first

דבר ראשון – first thing

ראשוני – initial

ראשית - first

בראשית – at first, in the beginning, Genesis

מראש – in advance

ראש חודש – first day of the month

וכמובן – ראש השנה

So…. If you encounter a new word, term, combination of words, including "ראש" in it – this is probably something related with being first - the head of something.

Another sign for its significant value in the Hebrew language, is that the word “ראש” is often used in expressions and slang:

ראש גדול - big head” = thinking out of the box, taking responsibility"

ראש קטן –s"small head" - not really trying to solve the problem

ראש טוב – good head” = feeling chilled, all good"

לתפוס ראש - to catch a head” = relaxing"

לתפוס את הראש - to catch the head” = to be in shock trying not to lose it"

ראש על הכתפיים - head on the shoulders” = responsible, trustworthy"

ראש לשועלים - the head of the fox” = being the leader of a weak group"

לאכול את הראש - "to eat the head" = bothering someone by constantly talking to him/her"

ומה מאחלים (to wish, wishing) בראש השנה?

“happy (שמחה) new (חדשה) year” = "שנה חדשה שמחה" is the most common wish and saying in most languages – “have a happy year!”, but not in Hebrew...

In Hebrew we say – “"שנה טובה ומתוקה – have a good (טובה) and sweet (מתוקה) year;

Ask any Israeli who celebrated Rosh Hashanah and s/he will tell you that since whenever s/he remembers celebrating Rosh Hashanah there are always honey (דבש) and dates (תמרים) all over – representing all the sweet things we have around us here, feeling their sweetness.

Have you ever wondered why? Well it is something to think about – נקודה למחשבה… but here is a clue:

This Rosh Hashanah (ראש השנה) here in Israel we will all be quarantined (ב=in+סגר=quarantine), “celebrating” away from our families hoping for the new year to be – betterיותר טובה.

This celebration will not be happy (שמחה), but it can defiantly be sweet (מתוקה)

So (אז) -

שנה טובה ומתוקה (וגם שמחה) 😊


bottom of page