The Seven Species are seven agricultural products − two grains and five fruits − that are listed in the Hebrew Bible as being special products of the Land of Israel and were given to Israel as a gift and a blessing by God upon entering the land after its long exile.
“A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil, and honey”
For thousands of years, the Seven Species have played an important role in the food of Jews in Israel and the religious traditions of Judaism. For example, it is traditional to decorate the Sukkah (a temporary hut constructed for use during the week-long Jewish festival of Sukkot) with the Seven Species. It is also traditional to eat the Seven Species during the Tu Bishvat holiday. This name means “the 15th of the month of Shvat, on which day Jews celebrate the ‘New Year of the Trees.’” Our word today is the fifth of the Seven Species: ‘ri•mon,’ pomegranate.
The ri•mon, pomegranate (botanically, Punica granatum), is a fruit-bearing, deciduous shrub or small tree. In recent years, we’ve heard about research findings that show the preventive and healing powers of the ri•mon, which are mainly attributed to its unique, super-potent antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids. Several research studies showed significant improvement in both men’s and women’s health issues. For men these benefits included preventing, slowing down, and even healing prostate cancer. For women, the ri•mon was shown to prevent and even to hinder several types of breast cancer. Other findings showed that consumption of ri•mon can improve blood vessel functioning and lower blood-pressure values, mainly by reducing inflammation. Of course, these are not recommendations for replacing regular medical treatment, but it is hard to ignore the positive effects of the ri•mon on the human body. Researchers are declaring that much more research is still needed before they reach final conclusions.
Rimon in Jewish Tradition
Our sages connected the ri•mon (pomegranate) to the Torah by noticing that the ri•mon has 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or commandments in the Torah. If you ask an Israeli scientist if the sages are right regarding this number, you’ll get the polite reply: “I never counted them, but you are welcome to count them yourself… .”
Rimon in Hebrew poetry, literature and the Bible
The ri•mon is used much as a metaphor for both fruitfulness and knowledge. The Hebrew idiom ‘ma•le ke•ri•mon’ (full as a pomegranate) means a ‘a very knowledgeable person.’ The ‘rimon’ appears several times as a metaphor in scripture:
“Like a piece of a pomegranate are your cheeks behind our veil”