The Grands got to go trick-or-treating last night at their mama’s offices. Treats scattered over the kitchen table as they talked about the merits of each item. The Grandson doesn’t like chocolate as much as his sister, so they began swapping out this one for that. They traded back and forth until the Granddaughter noticed that brother had two big butterfingers, and she had two smaller butterfingers. As she was pointing it out, Grandson said, “Let’s trade. You should have the bigger ones because you are bigger than me.” Need I say more? Granddaughter jumped on that one and the swap meet was over.
Jewish tradition has a blessing that they pass around during Rosh Hashanah, “May it be Your will, God, that our merits increase like the seeds of a pomegranate.”
Today, I think my grandson grew a few more seeds in his own small, redish pod.
Pomegranates are one of the special fruits of Israel. There are seven: wheat, barley, dates, figs, olives, grapes, and pomegranates. Jewish sages teach that pomegranates are special because they represent the person who is full of sweet kindness and many sweeter deeds. What makes them even more special is that the seeds are hidden. One would never guess at the multdinous seeds that lie hidden beneath the out shell – except Our Father who sees and never forgets.
There are 7 verses – just one tiny chapter in eons of history – that the Jewish sages use to teach how Hashem notices every kindness – every tiny deed done in secret as a gift which then becomes a seed – a seed of faith —- just like the pomegrante.
“The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the LORD. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.” — 2 Kings 4:1
We tend to skip over little verses like this in the OT. After all, it is just a few words of a narrative from long ago, isn’t it? A story much like today’s stories – creditors – paupers – a single parent – potential destruction. However , that is exactly why I love Jewish oral tradition. It could be our life that was just 7 verses long in an even larger tome. Concrete words that teache to something hidden beneath them – just like the seeds of the pomegranate.
Obediah was a husband who died within the first verse. He was a good man who had for many years cared, hidden and helped many others who had needed help in their own life journey. Out of his own resources he fed and supplied oil for their nightly studies of Our Father. No one knew. No one suspected. He did not brag about it. He did not ask others for help in his mission. He simply did what he could for those in need and each of them became a seed. A seed that God alone could see. So when Obediah’s wife came before the prophet Elisha, God didn’t just grant her a miracle, he let Obediah’s seed grow in the palm of His hand to bless Obediah’s seeds and meet their needs.
He saw what others did not, and he answered the desperate mother with a gift that she would recognize for she had watched and aided her husband over those many years. Oil that provided light in the night for those in need now overflowed abundantly for her. Our Father does not forget – what is freely given, He freely gives in return over and over and over.
It is our seeds, forming deep within us that brings blessings to those around us and those to come. All we have to do is choose to let them grow. Needs met by deeds turn into seeds – seeds of faith spread out into His Garden of creation.
“Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.” 2 Kings 4:2-7