A pomegranate is one of the main Israeli symbols, one of important Bar Mitzvah decorations. Midrash claims that the number of seeds of a pomegranate is exactly 613, which corresponds to the number of commandments (Mitzvoth) of the Torah.
The finials decorating the rods of the Torah are called Rimonim and often have the appearance of a pomegranate. Such a beautiful fruit was mentioned as proof of the abundance of land, “flowing milk and honey” (Bamidbar 13:23), – that is how Moshe was informed by those who had returned from the land of Canaan.
The pomegranate since ancient times is famous for its magnificence: heavy fruits, sweet aroma and lots of seeds. In the Tanakh, the pomegranate is called among the seven species of plants that have become symbols of the fertility of Eretz-Israel (Devarim 8:8).
Mention of Bar Mitzvah decorations in the Torah
This fruit is many times mentioned in the Torah:
when the Israelites came to the Mount Sinai, they murmured against Moshe that there was no water, no fig trees, no grapes, no pomegranates (The Book of Numbers 20:5)
some explorers of the Torah suggest that the apple that Eve gave to Adam was not an apple from an apple tree, but from a pomegranate tree, i.e. pomegranate apple, since among the Israelites and Persians, the pomegranate tree has long been considered the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
one unusual pomegranate tree is mentioned in 1 Samuel 14:2. This wild pomegranate tree was of special size and beauty, during the times of Shaul, it grew on the outskirts, it was where King Shaul was preparing for the decisive battle of his fate
in the Song of Songs, a pomegranate appears as a symbol of love and sensuality, its red color is associated with fire and passion (Shir Hashirim 4:3, 13, 6:7-11, 8:2). In this book, the garden with pomegranate apples is mentioned (4:13), then the cheeks of the bride are compared in their color to halves of a pomegranate apple, ‘…your cheeks under your curls…’ (4:3), then it is compared with the beauty of flowers and fruits of pomegranate tree (6:7-11, 7:13).
A pomegranate is also mentioned in the story about Noah:
‘There were some animals that Noah did not even know what to feed with. There was such a case with a chameleon. Once Noah cut a pomegranate apple; it turned out to be wormy. The close-fitting chameleon began to greedily pick up the worms that fell out of the apple. Since then, it was given only vegetables with a wormhole.’
Application in art, including as Bar Mitzvah decorations
For centuries, pomegranate has been a popular motif in Jewish decorative art:
the fruits of the pomegranate tree were so universally appreciated for their beauty and taste that the blue clothes or the ephod of the high priest were decorated with images of pomegranates (“Golden bells and pomegranates” (Shemot 28:33-34)).
Also, the capitals of the two copper pillars (Jachin and Boaz) were decorated with various images of pomegranate apples (3 Kings 7:18-20, 2 Chronicles 3:15-16)
the crown of King Solomon was made in the form of a pomegranate
the image of a pomegranate is often found on ancient coins.
Knowing about the symbolism of important things is the responsibility of everyone, including every Bar Mitzvah boy or girl (Bat Mitzvah if a girl), because interest in one’s religion is one of the foundations of faith. The pomegranate can be on the table among the treats and Bar Mitzvah decorations, but more often, it performs a symbolic role: it is customary to wish for as many good deeds in life as many grains are inside the pomegranate.