|Traditional holiday fruit, a pomegranate pregnant with seeds|
Hayom harat olam,
On this day, the world was conceived.
These words conclude the first and most central addition to the Rosh Hashanah Jewish festival prayer service that begins this Wednesday evening of the year 5768 on the Jewish calendar.
. . . throughout this day, and the ten days of return and renewal that it introduces, we remind ourselves. . . that the universe is 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, a Jewish
environmental organization in the USA
A call to profound awareness.
What responses are possible?
This question and responses, ruminations, thoughts, and introspections drive the cheshbon hanefesh, accounting of the soul work I have already begun, as have 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 tasted this season. Why a pomegranate? One of the Seven Species, or types of fruits and grains that the Hebrew Bible (Deuteronomy 8:8) lists as special products of the Land of Israel, the pomegranate is considered "pregnant" with 613 seeds. The Bible mentions 613 mitzvot, commandments or good deeds to perform, and so we want our mitzvot in the coming year to be legion.