The Power of Pomogranates

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The pomegranate is an ancient fruit native to Iran, but cultivated across the Mediterranean for thousands of years. The word pomegranate derives from the Latin words pomum (apple) and granatus (seeded), owing to its apple like shape and the hundreds of seeds that fill the rind. In Hebrew, the word for pomegranate is rimon, which also means “bell.”

On Rosh Hashanah we eat a new fruit and make the blessing of shehechyanu. Many Jews have the custom to use a pomegranate because of the special symbolisms described here.
The pomegranate is one of the Sheva Minim (seven species) of plants that Eretz Yisroel was blessed with, and therefore requires the special brocha achrona for the Sheva Minim. The pomegranate is also a symbol for righteousness, because its 613 seeds correspond to the 613 mitzvos in the Torah. Due to its special symbolism, Shlomo HaMelech used the pomegranate as a decorative symbol in the Beis HaMikdash and also had his own pomegranate orchard.

In Parshas Tetzaveh, the Torah describes the me’il (robe) of the Kohen Gadol. The robe was trimmed with alternating golden bells and pomegranates. It is written in the Talmud (Zevachim 88B) that the pomegranates were embroidered with blue, red and purple yarn. The trimming on the Kohen Gadol’s robe served to announce his presence as he entered the sanctuary and to atone for the aveirah of Loshon Hara (slanderous speech). Rabbi Moshe Alshich, a venerated rabbi in Eretz Yisroel who lived during the sixteenth century, explained that each measure of speech (bell) was surrounded by two measures of silence (pomegranates), illustrating the importance of thinking before speaking.

Elsewhere in the Talmud, in the end of Chagigah, the Jewish people are compared to pomegranates. The Talmud explains that the pasuk “Your temple is like a piece of pomegranate…” (Shir HaShirim 4:3) is interpreted to mean “even the empty ones amongst you are full of good deeds as a pomegranate [is full of seeds].”

How to Pick and Cut a Pomegranate
Look for a large fruit, with thin, tough, unbroken skin. Cut with a non-metal knife, as metal can make the juice bitter. Cut off the crown of the fruit and quarter it. Soak in water for five minutes and then separate the seeds under water. This will allow the seeds to settle at the bottom of the bowl and the sediment will rise to the top.
Note: The juice of a pomegranate can cause permanent stains.

The Healing Power of Pomegranates
Pomegranate juice is known as a good remedy for an upset stomach. When the juice or seeds are treated with almond oil, pomegranates can be used to treat chest pain and chronic coughs. When dried and mixed with dried ginger, white cumin and black salt, pomegranate has the power to increase appetite.

Nutrition Facts
Pomegranate is known as a “superfruit” for its high concentration of antioxidants and its reputation as one of the most nutritious fruits. Pomegranate contains calcium, potassium, iron and phytonutrients.
It helps protect the body against heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. Pomegranate also slows down the aging process, neutralizes free radicals and helps flush fats from the digestive tract.

Pomegranate Juice
Pure pomegranate juice has all of the nutritional properties of the pomegranate fruit. When purchasing bottled pome­granate juice, make sure that the juice has a reliable hechsher.
Even though the juice is pure, with no additives, it may be produced in a facility where other possibly non-kosher products are made.