Perek Shira - The Song of the Pomegranate Tree
by Rabbi Shmuel Kraines
The pomegranate tree says: “Like a slice of pomegranate is the appearance of your cheekbones, behind your veil.” (Shir HaShirim 4:3)
This song is an excerpt from Shir HaShirim, in which Hashem praises the Jewish nation and describes its qualities with an analogy of a flawlessly beautiful bride. He describes her cheekbones as blushed, the color of a pomegranate. The figurative intention of this praise is that the Jewish nation is filled with 613 mitzvahs in the same way that the pomegranate contains hundreds of pulpy seeds.Based on this, one may suggest that the pomegranate crown represents the crown of the Torah.
The pomegranate sings that even “a slice of pomegranate,” meaning even a Jew who manages to fulfill only a “slice” of the Torah, still boasts innumerable “seeds.” In further depth, our Sages see in the word “rakah” (slice) an allusion to “reikah” (empty one). Even the empty ones of the Jewish People are filled with seed-like merits. Each seed is edible by itself, and contains untold future potential. Thus, each pomegranate is filled with song of Hashem’s love for His entire nation.
The pomegranate teaches that even if we have merited amassing Torah and mitzvahs, we should still retain our modesty like a bride hides behind her veil — just as each pomegranate seed is covered within its husk. Moreover, in the same way, we should appreciate the sometimes hidden greatness of every single Jew.
- Sources: Rav Saadya Gaon andRashi (combination); Berachot 57a; Kol Rinah
*In loving memory of Harav Zeev Shlomo ben Zecharia Leib