When collecting folklore from my friends, I asked, “Jodie, what d’ya got?”
My informant Jodie told me that she believes that there are 613 seeds in a pomegranate. When I asked her where this came from, Jodie told me that it’s a Jewish belief. Still not understanding the connection between Jews and the number 613, Jodie explained that there are 613 commandments in the Jewish Bible. I was under the impression that there were only 10 Commandments given to Moses, but contrary to my belief there are 613 commandments within the Jewish tradition.
Jodie learned this in Jewish day school in her youth. I asked if this belief had any significance. Do you eat pomegranate on any special occasions? Any special dishes with pomegranate? She explained that its sometimes served on high holidays. However, she does not celebrate the high holiday where the pomegranate is most popular, Tu B’Shvat. This holiday is known as the New Year for the Trees and eating fresh fruit is a custom on this holiday.
I asked Jodie if she had ever counted all of the seeds of the pomegranate. She said that she did in elementary school, but how can you trust elementary school students to count that high?
The fact that Jodie and her classmates counted the number of seeds in the pomegranate demonstrates that this belief is present within the Jewish community.