Friday, September 3, 2010

Pomegranate Blessings At Rosh Hashanah

Pomegranates are one of the symbolic foods found on Jewish tables during Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). As with other foods it conveys a special message. Namely that the new year be fruitful.

May your joys be as plentiful as the seeds in a pomegranate!

Interestingly, the pomegranate is also popular because it was believed that it contained exactly 613 seeds and 613 is the number of mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah (teachings.span>

The pomegranate (Punica granatum) is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree. Native to the Iranian Plateau, it is also found in other regions, like the southern Mediterranean, Sahara and Arabic peninsula.

The flowers of the pomegranate tree are bright red and the edible fruit is a berry a bit larger than a lemon in size. There are approximately 600 seeds in each berry. Drought-tolerant, the tree can be grown in dry areas with either a Mediterranean winter rainfall climate or in summer rainfall climates.

As well as being a sign of abundance, the fruit is also prominent in India's Ayurvedic medicine chest. For thousands of years it has been a source of traditional remedies.

For example, the rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree is used as a traditional remedy against diarrhea, and dysentery. The seeds and juice are considered a tonic for the heart and throat. The astringent qualities of the flower juice, rind and tree bark are considered valuable for a variety of purposes including use as eyedrops as it is believed to slow the development of cataracts.

It's imagery goes back to the ancient coins of Judea. As a holy symbol, the pomegranate is believed by some Jewish scholars to be the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden.It is mentioned in the Bible many times, including in the Songs of Solomon:

"Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks." - Song of Solomon 4:3.

This fruit has found its way around the world, from the Middle East to the Mediterranean to Asia and America. Prized for its sweet seeds and delicious juice, it will continue to be a treasured fruit and no doubt will continue to be a source of blessings for years to come.

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