Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pomegranate--a symbolic food

This is my friend the pomegranate tree, just outside the window.

In April it began to flower.

In May the first fruit, more green than red, appeared.

In August I found a few split open, hanging on the tree.

Yesterday I picked a big red intact pomegranate, cut it in half,

and ate the seeds for the first time this year.
Nature--what a great system it has for making food!

And I did say the two required Hebrew blessings before eating it: the Shehechiyanu (see below) and "Blessed are You, Lord our God, who creates the fruit of the tree."
The pomegranate (rimon in Hebrew) always ripens just before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. This year the holiday begins on the evening of September 29. explains it nicely:
"On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, we eat a new fruit which we have not yet eaten this season. When we eat this new fruit, we say the shehechiyanu blessing which thanks God for keeping us alive and bringing us to this season. This ritual reminds us to appreciate the fruits of the earth and being alive to enjoy them. A pomegranate is often used as this new fruit. In the Bible, the Land of Israel is praised for its pomegranates. It is also said that this fruit contains 613 seeds just as there are 613 mitzvot.* Another reason given for blessing and eating this fruit on Rosh HaShana is that we wish that our good deeds in the ensuing year will be as plentiful as the seeds of the pomegranate."
(*the 613 commandments in the Torah)



pomegranates are a funny fruit
they are not so popular in crete, although we do see these trees in most gardens.
pomegranate was the fruit persephone ate, which kept her in the underworld, which is probably one reason why we find these seeds in the memorial cakes (after someone's death) of the Greek orthodox church, made with boiled wheat and icing sugar

Gwyn said...

Greetings from Juneau, Alaska!
These pomegranate look so delicious. I've never seen them growing before. Thank you so much for sharing Jerusalem with us.:)

Dina said...

Wo Maria/M. Kiwi, that is interesting about the memorial cakes! I went now to read about Persephone--fascinating mythology it is. So she is now the harbinger of spring?
I see why pomegranates would not be so popular for eating. Opening them is a lot of work, time-consuming. And chewing a spoonful and then spitting out the seeds, well. . .

Shalom Gwyn, greetings from the Holy Land to Alaska, God's country. What different worlds we live in!

Webradio said...

Bonjour Dina !
Dans ma région, il ne fait pas assez chaud pour avoir de tels fruits... Mais j'en achète parfois.
La prochaine fois que je vais en acheter, je penserai à Toi et à Ton pays...
A bientôt.
Hi Dina !
In my region, it is not hot enough to have such fruits... But I sometimes buy they.
The next time I'll buy they, I think of you and your country...
See you soon.

Dina said...

Aww sweet, Webradio! Just look how blogging affects our looking at life. That is happening to me now too. I am reading your comment out loud several times to learn the French; you are kind to provide a translation (which I cover up at first, trying to see if I can figure out the French). :)

kjpweb said...

Interesting. I don't think I ever ate this fruit!
Cheers, Klaus

Suzanne said...

Your photos of the pomegranites are lovely and the ones that are rip just now look heavenly. I found one in a New Hampshire market last week, bought it and promptly ate it. Nothing like being in Jerusalem to have a pomegranite but it was a sweet reminder of the abundance and beauty of Israel. Shabbat Shalom

ichandrae said...

thankyou Dina for another beautiful presentation from Israel.

There is so much rich symbolism in Judaism and it does serve to remind us how everything in the universe is connected, the fruit to the commandments and to the seeds we sow with our actions.

There are not alot of creeping vines in my canadian city but you seem them on the university grounds climbing the old brick buildings and I always think of the words of Christ in the bible"I am the vine". I also thought of this when I admired the vines that grew on ancient stone and words.


nonizamboni said...

It must be wonderful to have a pomegranate tree right outside and could it be a mitzva for the tree to give you its fruit? I'm always touched by the symbolism.
Happy weekend, Dina!

mommanator said...

there are so many reasons to love your blog! thanks

USelaine said...

Pomegranates have gotten much more popular here, as have blueberries, because of their high level of antioxidants, and probably other nutrients. I remember seeing them grow in southern California.

Leora said...

Yummy pomegranate! How wonderful to have them growing outside your window.

There is also a "yehi ratzon" for the pomegranate:
she'nirbeh ze'chu'yos k'rimon
"...that our merits increase like (the seeds of) a pomegranate."


Louise said...

Beautiful pictures and commentary. And how wonderful to have your own tree.

Kris said...

Pomegranate juice is just the trick for hot weather.

Anonymous said...

I have two pomegranate trees in my yard. When I was a child I thought the color of pomegranates seeds was the most beautiful color in all the world. Other kids would buy candy but when they were in season, I wanted pomegranates.

MurciaDailyPhoto and said...

Greetings from Murcia.
This fruit is named "granada" in Spain. We usually eat by adding sugar. It's delicious.

JC said...

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.