#17: The Artsiest Pomegranate (David Harris & Rabbi Tobias Moss)

Rabbi Moss talks with David Harris about David’s artistic path and pioneering work as the founding director of Rimon: The Minnesota Jewish Arts Council. They also discuss the vital role that the arts play in the Jewish community and how Rimon helps Jewish artists find resources, audiences, and inspiration. Please subscribe to TEMPLE TALKS and review the show. Comments and questions can be directed to TMoss@TempleIsrael.com. Talk with us!
An edited excerpt from this week’s Temple Talks follows below. 

Rabbi Moss: What is your midrash—your interpretation, expansion, understanding, digging up and finding some gold—of the word Rimon and what it means for the organization today?

David Harris: Well, Rimon is the Hebrew word for pomegranate. It is one of our most ancient symbols. And of course, what is the pomegranate famous for? Its seeds! And the seeds have been interpreted in many different ways. For some, they are the 613 mitzvot.

But they also have a more general interpretation, which is of fertility, of creativity, of the multiplicity of ideas that spring from each of our heads. And so in Rimon, we've mostly looked at that symbol as an expression of what diversity is, what the full spectrum of art forms are. The many paths that artists walk; the many paths that communities walk.

So we look at the Rimon as inspiration in the sense of why variety is critical to how we understand ourselves and how we respect each other. 

Sometimes people like to bring it to my attention that in modern Israeli life, Rimon has another meaning, which I believe is a hand grenade. So it's something very explosive and let's face it, art can be explosive. It can absolutely tear open the status quo and make us see something we had never seen before. 

Rabbi Moss: And in a less violent, but just as visceral way, the pomegranate juice stains or dyes in such a deep way. That also can be the effect that art can have on us, leaving a permanent imprint in a vibrant color.

David Harris: That's beautiful. I should also say that the Rimon plays a role in how we decorate the Torah scrolls itself referring to its beautiful crowns which are called rimonim, the plural of Rimon, because they do look like pomegranates.

The rimon—it is explosive, it is beautiful. It stains our fingers. That’s exactly how art should be described. It is the stain that says with you after you’ve left the room. 

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