The Hidden Meaning of Pomegranates
- Exodus 28:33–34 directed that images of pomegranates be woven onto the borders of Hebrew priestly robes. 1 Kings 7:13–22 describes pomegranates depicted in the temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness, because it is said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah. Interestingly, there have been studies that seem to show the legitimacy of this claim.
The 613 Mitzvot or 613 Commandments (Hebrew: תרי“ג מצוות transliterated as Taryag mitzvot; TaRYaG is the acronym for the numeric value of “613”are a list of commandments from God in the Torah. Jewish tradition holds that the Torah contains 613 distinct mitzvot.Traditionally, of these 613 commandments, 248 are mitzvot aseh (“positive commandments,” commands to perform certain actions) and 365 are mitzvot lo taaseh (“negative commandments,” commands to abstain from certain actions). Three-hundred and sixty-five corresponds to the number of days in a solar year, and 248 was believed to be the number of bones and significant organs in the human body.Three of the negative commandments fall under the category of yehareg ve’al ya’avor, meaning “One should let himself be killed rather than violate it”. These are murder, idolatry, and forbidden sexual relations.
Significance of 613
According to the Talmud (tractate Makkoth 23b), a Biblical verse states that Moses transmitted the “Torah” from God to the Jewish people: “Moses commanded us the Torah as an inheritance for the community of Jacob” (Deut. 33:04) However, there were two commandments which God delivered directly to the Jews: the first two of the Ten Commandments; these are phrased in the first person. The Talmud calculates that the gematria (numerical value) of the Hebrew word “Torah” is 611. Thus, Moses’s 611 commandments combined with the two directly from God add up to 613.Many Jewish philosophical and mystical works (e.g. by Baal ha-Turim, the Maharal of Prague and leaders of Hasidic Judaism) find allusions and inspirational calculations relating to the number of commandments. Other works dispute that exactly 613 mitzvot exist.The tzitzit (“knotted fringes”) of the tallit (“[prayer] shawl”) are connected to the 613 commandments by interpretation: principal Torah commentator Rashi bases the number of knots on a gematria: the word tzitzit (Hebrew: ציצת (Biblical), ציצית, in its Mishnaic spelling) has the value 600. Each tassel has eight threads (when doubled over) and five sets of knots, totalling 13. The sum of all numbers is 613. This reflects the concept that donning a garment with tzitzit reminds its wearer of all Torah commandments.
* Taken from Wikipedia.