In our tradition, Apples represent a state of purity and holiness. Maybe that’s why an apple a day keeps the doctor away?!
Pomegranates on the other hand represent the rough and tumble part of ourselves. As our Sages teach, “even the empty ones among the Jewish People are filled with good deeds like the seeds of a pomegranate”.
As a leader (and we are all leaders) do I embrace only apple types, those that I see only goodness and positivity? Or do I also embrace the pomegranate types? And if I do embrace the pomegranate types, do I do it begrudgingly, or do I do it with excitement and with an appreciation for the beauty and tastiness of the pomegranate?
Making this very practical; as a parent, do I only embrace my children because I see their goodness, or do I value them along with their negativity and shortcomings?
And even more practical; do I only embrace the parts of myself that I like and find tasty and juicy or do I also embrace the parts of me that are not so pretty?
Our Sages teach that among the designs on the Menorah were golden apples. Rashi, teaches that at the bottom of the hem of the Kohen Gadols’ Tunic there were golden pomegranates that seems to have had no other purpose other than a decorative one. There were bells in between that made noises as the Kohen Gadol would enter into the holy places (with the exclusion of Yom Kippur in the Holy of Holies).
Nachmanadies challenges Rashi’s take by saying that if the pomegranates served no purpose other than a decorative one, shouldn’t they have been apples? This would demonstrate the real beauty of the Jewish People?
Rashi teaches the practical and down to earth side of the Torah. When the High Priest would enter into the holy places, he took the Jewish People (spiritually) with him as their representative. Rashi is telling us that all Jews, even the ones who may not be so pretty are also represented by the Kohen Gadol because they too deep down are filled with good deeds like a pomegranate.
(Nachmanadies who is a mystic, sees the inherent reality of each Jews potential to be a pure apple.)
Furthermore, the noise of the bells clinging represents the desire of each Jew to want to get closer to G-d. It represents the noisiness of our journey that is up and down but always a yearning for closeness.
The world is a noisy place these days. There are many winds blowing in all kinds of direction and not all of them look pretty. Rashi is teaching us not to be afraid of the noises. They carry with them a yearning for a better world and a higher connection.
Be a pomegranate leader and you’ll see the good in the noisiness.
Have a great Shabbos!
Rabbi Mendel Schusterman
Thanks to my brother, Rabbi Eliyahu Schusterman, of Chabad Intown, Atlanta, for sharing the above thought.