This month we begin with a riddle: Name the only two products that are kosher to eat which come from something that is not kosher to eat.
The first answer to this riddle is the topic of this bulletin article: honey. Honey is kosher to eat, but bees are not. The answer to the second item can be found on the bottom of page 5.
As humans have an insatiable desire for sweetness, it is not surprising that references to honey and our boundless associations with it are found throughout the Bible. In Proverbs, honey is associated with wisdom and healing (Prov. 24:13 & 16:24). In the Psalms, it is highly prized like fine gold (Ps. 19:10). The sweetness of honey takes on an erotic nature in Song of Songs, and throughout the Torah, the Land of Israel is referred to as a land “flowing with milk and honey.”
Honey also serves to symbolically mark transitions in our lives and rhythms of the Jewish year. Our sages encourage us to sweeten the lessons of Torah by placing drops of honey on the Hebrew letters to enhance the pleasure for children as they learn to read. We use honey on Rosh Hashanah to usher in a sweet new year, and many of us use honey during Passover to sweeten our charoset.
Indeed, honey has long been associated with sweetness, joy, beauty and renewal, and as we usher in the springtime with the celebration of Passover, we do so with a very special announcement regarding a new sweet adventure within our congregation.
Under the guidance of Dr. Adam Weinstein, Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism now has its very own bee hive (Don’t worry; it’s not planned to house the hive at HCRJ at this point in time). This special hive is currently in its infant stages, and as it grows in strength and number, we will have a unique opportunity to witness the productions of one of God’s sweetest gifts to the world.
Over the coming months we will be posting photos and videos of our bees as they build their colony; we will provide opportunities for learning about the value and importance of bees to the global ecosystem; and of course, when the time comes, we will harvest the HCRJ honey and prepare to sell it as a special novelty honey in addition to our annual honey sales for Rosh Hashanah.
It is our hope that this new honey project will enable us to explore the magical world of honey and engage our congregation with boundless opportunities to learn about bees, honey and the holy associations we have with this ancient sweet nectar.