First of all, some announcements:
1. Happy Holiday !! I wish all of you a pleasant dwelling in the Sukkah or whatever provides you with happiness and pleasure during this holiday.
2. We're taking a break from cheeses from Har Haruach, due to the goats' pregnancy.
3. An Idea - a dear friend recently gave a wedding gift that is unique, healthy and ecologically sound to his newly wed friends. He gave them one months supply of fresh vegetables from the garden. (I feel as if it was a gift to me...) I'd like to propose this idea to everyone. As an incentive, I will be happy to add my gift to the lucky recipients and give them an extra box "on the garden". (now we have deliveries to Modiin and Tel Aviv),
4. I'm having difficulties deciding the content of the box this week, so I wrote up a draft, and if there are any changes I'll notify you by Wednesday morning.
This week I will discuss the Pomegranate - The fruit and gift of the Gods:
"כי ה' אלוהיך מביאך אל ארץ טובה, ארץ נחלי מים עינות ותהמת יוצאים בבקעה ובהר. ארץ חיטה ושעורה וגפן ותאנה ורימון, ארץ זית שמן ודבש".
As stated in the Tanach, Israel was a land rich in many products and the pomegranate was brought back by the spies as proof of the abundance of the land.
The pomegranate originated in Persia and was grown extensively around the Mediterranean. From there it spread to Africa and india and was brought to America by the Spanish in the 18th century. In Jericho, evidence was found that it was grown there more than 2000 years ago. Papyrus from the reign of Raamses the Third indicates that pomegranates were imported to Egypt from Israel in the 12th century BC. In Egypt, pomegranates were put inside coffins in order to ensure a safe journey to the next world.
In many cultures, the pomegranate was a symbol of fertility, abundance, beauty and wisdom. In Solomon's temple, the gateway was decorated with chains of pomegranates. The Cohen HaGadol wore a cloak crowned on it's rims with golden bells and pomegranates. Israel's coins have often been decorated with pomegranates - see below today's "shnekel" and a coin from the days of the great rebellion:
King Saul sat beneath the pomegranate tree and other wise men attributed their wisdom to the pomegranate.
On Rosh Hashana we bless each other that our achievements will be many as the seeds of the pomegranate. A common Jewish belief claims that a pomegranate contains exactly 613 seeds, like the 613 Mitzvot. My personal research (thanks Ayelet) indicates that the number of seeds in a pomegranate varies between 200-1000, depending on the size and species, but the average is close to 600 seeds.
The name pomegranate, Punica granatum is derived from the ancient Roman malum punicum. It was brought to Rome by the Carthaginians (ancient Phoenicians) and the name is related to cathage and means "Punic apple". Another Latin label was malum granatum - "seed-full apple", which is the origin of the English name (Pomegranate), the German name (Granatapfel), and the Italian name (Melograno). It's Hebrew name is probably derived from the Egyptian root rmn, as well as the Arab name Ruman(رمان)
In ancient Greece, Hera, the Queen of Olympus, the Goddess of marriage, motherhood and birth, is usually described as holding a pomegranate in her hand and her crown is shaped like the crown of the pomegranate. It is told that Aphrodite planted the first pomegranate tree in Cyprus. The most interesting story is about Persephone, the daughter of , the Goddess of earth and its produce, who was kidnapped by Hades, the God of the underworld. Persephone was the most beautiful girl and was loved by all. She did not live on Mount Olympus like her parents, but spent her days on earth, picking flowers and planting plants with her friends. But Hades desired her for himself, and decided to kidnap her to his kingdom beneath the ground. One day, while was casually walking around, Hades implemented his plan and took her with him to the underworld. No one, except Zeus and Helius, the sun that sees all, noticed what happened.
After Persephone's disappearance, her mother Dimeter's soul was hardened with sorrow. She cursed her daughter's friends that did not prevent the kidnapping. She sank into deep longing for her daughter and neglected the earth, which then stopped giving produce and growing fruit.
Eventually, Zeus was forced to act to prevent the disaster that was about to come. He sent Hermes, the gods messenger, to Hades to retrieve Persephone to her mother. Hades did indeed return Persephone, but before he let her go he made her eat several pomegranate seeds. These several seeds were the fruits of the underworld, and due to her eating them, she was obliged to return to the underworld for four months every year. However, she was allowed to stay on Olympus, with her mother, the remaining months of the year. During those four months in the underworld her mother would envelope herself in sadness and condemn the earth to ruin, but when Persephone would return to her mother's side, the earth would flourish with produce and flowers.
Therefore, according to myth, every year there are four months of winter, in which the earth hardens and does not give fruit. After them come months of spring and summer, when Persephone is back from the underworld, and Dimeter allows the earth to be fertile.
פרספונה, ציור של דנטה גבריאל רוסטי מ-1874
Persephone, painting by Dante Gavriel Rusti from 1874
So, eat pomegranates - in the Koran, Muhamad is quoted saying that pomegranates clean the head from feeling of jealousy and hatred.
The Rambam claims that the peel of a pomegranate can be used to stop a wound from bleeding. The fruit is used to eliminate diarrhea, and ease nausea and hangovers. Hippocrates recommended the pomegranate as a sexual stimulant and to pacify the digestive system (hopefully at the same time).
The hand grenade got it's name from the pomegranate as well, due to its large number of pellets, like the seeds of a pomegranate. Like the weapon which is rich in shrapnel pellets, the fruit is rich in anti-oxidants and can inhibit or even prevent certain cancers. Many researches have found that the pomegranate can lower LDL (the "bad" cholesterol), it also enhances the functioning of HDL (the "good" cholesterol). The pomegranate was found to improve blood flow to the heart, reduce blood pressure and cause regression of arteriosclerosis (research by the medical faculty in the Technion).
Apparently, the juice has an influence on the immune system, and prevents viral and bacterial infections.
According to popular medicine the pomegranate is a source of iron and recommended to anemics. Also, Chinese medicine considers it as a blood strengthener. Alternative medical practitioners use a concentrate from the peel of the pomegranate to remove worms from the body. The juice squeezed from the peel is considered excellent for removing facial wrinkles, helps in reducing masses from the liver and eases joint infections. Pomegranates are said to have the ability to prevent osteoporosis and to treat diseases caused by over-acidity. Because of the high content of tannins it is recommended to use the peels for hemorrhoids and phisora.
Although we normally eat the fruit fresh, as juice or in a salad, in many places around the world it is an important ingredient in fish, meat, and chicken dishes and is also mixed with different beans and okra.
An easy method to peel and separate the seeds - make a shallow cut only through the peel, and break the pomegranate apart into four pieces inside a bowl of water. It is important to keep it under water so the colorful juice does not splash every which way. Hold a piece in one hand and with the other whack it with a wooden spoon, so the seeds can fall into the water bowl. You can also separate them manually with your fingers. The delicate peel will float and ease the separation process.
Enjoy a fruit that is both delicious and good for you.
Have a great week
בארגזנו השבוע- טיוטה
דלורית או נבטים
ירוק עליי- פטרוזיליה או שמיר או בצל ירוק 0לא בטוח עדין)
בצל יבש, עוד עגבניות, בטטות, ואולי עוד ירוק
תפוזים, בננות ומנגו