Love of the Land

For the week ending 21 January 2006 / 21 Tevet 5766

Pomegranate - Symbol of Righteousness

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Anyone who has ever eaten this exotic fruit is well aware of the extraordinarily large number of seeds it contains. King Shlomo’s comparison (Shir Hashirim 4:3) of this fruit to the Jewish people leads our Sages to finding merit even in those Jews whose standard of observing the mitzvot leaves something to be desired.

In one place (Berachot 6a) it is explained that the city of Tiberias is also called Rakat because the word raik means empty or unworthy. Just as in the above-mentioned passage we read the word rakota’ich as a hint to “the unworthy ones being as filled with mitzvah credits as a pomegranate is filled with seeds”, so too were even the unworthy people of Tiberias filled with mitzvot.

In another place (Berachot 6a) this appreciation of Jews is extended to the entire nation. Even the unworthy ones, our Sages tell us, are so filled with mitzvot like the pomegranate is filled with seeds that these merits will protect them against the fires of retribution in the World to Come.

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