|Traditional holiday fruit, a pomegranate — pregnant with seeds|
Hayom harat olam,
On this day, the world was conceived.
With these words, ends the first and most central addition to the Rosh Hashanah Jewish festival prayer service that begins this Wednesday evening of the year 5768.
. . . Most central [an addition] it is, for throughout this day, and the ten days of return and renewal that it introduces, we remind ourselves. . . that the universe is at all is already a cause for wonder, for acknowledgment, for worshipful thanks, and for responsibility . . .
. . . Birth always inspires us with awe and wonder. . . But today we are to reflect not on the birth of a single child, not on the mystery of our own existences, not even just on the existence of whole species of life, but rather on the conception and the birth of the entire universe.
— From a sermon by COEJL, the leading
Jewish environmental organization in the USA
A call to profound awareness.
What responses are possible?
This question and related ruminations, thoughts, and introspection are driving the cheshbon hanefesh, accounting of the soul work I have already begun, as have done generations of my ancestors during this High Holy Day period.
About the pomegranate. On the second night of Rosh Hashanah, we eat a fruit that we have not yet eaten this season. Why a pomegranate, one of the Seven Species — seven types of fruits and grains that the Hebrew Bible (Deuteronomy 8:8) lists as special products of the Land of Israel? One reason — the fruit is considered pregnant with 613 seeds, the number of mitzvot, commandments or good deeds in the Bible. And we want our mitzvot — good deeds in the coming year to be as plentiful as the pomegranate's seeds.