Why we like the pomegranate!
No, we did not choose it for its juice (though it is a great anti-oxidant and it is now in vogue to drink it!)
The main reason is that our tradition teaches us (see Talmud Sanhedrin 37; Eruvin 19; Malbim Shir Hashirim 4:3) that it contains 613 seeds, which corresponds to the number of Mitzvot (commandments) that govern Jewish Life.
And if you think the Talmudic Sages were only guesstimating a number, check this out!
So for us, it is a subtle, yet constant reminder of why we do the work that we do. Just helping our Mitzvah heroes do great things.
And just for fun, other significant facts about a pomegranate:
It was thought to be the fruit eaten in the Garden of Eden by Adam and Eve
- It decorated the robes of Priests in the Temple in Jerusalem
- It is used to dye clothing
- And it can be used to make wine
- It comes from the Latin pomum (apple) of many granatus (seeds)
Some Biblical references:
Exodus 28:33-34 – showing that images of pomegranates be woven onto the borders of priestly robes
“Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe.”
Numbers 13:23 – “When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.”
Numbers 20:5 – “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates.”
Deuteronomy 8:7-8 – “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land - a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey.”
1 Samuel 14:2 – “Saul was staying on the outskirts of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree in Migron.”
1 Kings 7: 18, 20 – Showing and depicting the use in King Solomon's Temple
“He made pomegranates in two rows encircling each network to decorate the capitals on top of the pillars. . . . On the capitals of both pillars, above the bowl-shaped part next to the network, were the two hundred pomegranates in rows all around.”
Song of Songs 8:2 – “I would lead you and bring you to my mother's house - she who has taught me. I would give you spiced wine to drink, the nectar of my pomegranates.”
Haggai 2:19 – “Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.”