Pom-a Lama Ding-Dong: Tetzaveh 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: What symbols at synagogue mean the most to you? How do they bring you meaning? Are there others that mainly puzzle you?
In a portion filled with symbols, Tetzaveh at one point describes the origins of pomegranate-shaped bells, which were originally attached to the high priest’s robes; today, we often use this design on silver ornaments atop our Torah scrolls:

The Pitch: “On its hem make pomegranates of blue, purple, and crimson yarns, all around the hem, with bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around the hem of the robe.” – Exodus 28:33-34

Swing #1: “Israel is compared to a pomegranate, as full of good deeds as this fruit is of seeds. Good students are said to model their study habits upon the pomegranate, eating only the good fruit, but discarding the bitter peel.” – Ellen Frankel and Betsy Platkin Teutsch, The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols

Swing #2: “They were round and hollow, in the shape of pomegranates, which are made like a hen’s egg.” – Rashi

Swing #3: “Between pomegranate and pomegranate, not inside the pomegranate.” – Rashbam

Late-Inning Questions: Are the pomegranates effective symbols for those who attend synagogue? Do the explanations provided by our commentators add to their meaning? How does an effective use of symbols add positively to the synagogue experience?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: We’re continuing our tradition of drawing lots on Purim! At our Megillah reading this Wednesday night, bring food items to donate to the Kosher Food Pantry. For every item you bring, you’ll get one raffle ticket, making you eligible for some fun prizes to be given away throughout the night!

The Big Inning at the End: Hopefully, the suggestion that Major League managers will be allowed to change their batting orders in the 9th inning was merely a trial balloon meant to get reactions — and if the reactions are any indication, this practice never will see the light of day.

Shabbat Shalom!