The Holiday of Sukkos is called Zman Simchoseinu – The Time of Rejoicing. We are commanded to rejoice for eight days, and to do it outside, open to elements. For the duration of this holiday, eight days, we dwell in the sukkah – a booth, or tent, erected outside. Some people actually sleep in the sukkah, but we only eat there. On the photo, you can see a miniature model of a sukkah, made for my husband by a Russian artist Eduard Kryman. It actually serves as a case to carry an Esrog (a ritual citron), which constitutes an important part of the observance. There is no roof other than palm branches which leaves us open to the elements the way we were during the forty years of wondering in the dessert.
To complete the set, we also need a lulav, which is a tall and straight palm branch tied together with some myrtle and willow branches. Together, the lulav and esrog are called The Four Species, and each one of the four has a special significance. Palm–because it is written (Psalms 92:13): ‘The righteous bloom like a date palm.’ Myrtle–because it is written (Zechariah 1:8): ‘And he stood among the myrtle-trees.’ Willow–because it is written (Psalms 68:5): ‘Extol Him who rides on the clouds [aravot], the Lord is His name.’ Esrog, otherwise called “the beautiful fruit,” or “the fruit of a goodly tree,” alludes to (Psalms 104: 1): ‘You are clothed in glory and majesty.’ (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/).
However, there is a much simpler, down to earth explanation of the Four Species symbolism. On a very basic level, they bind together the four types of people:
- The lulav (palm) has taste but no smell, symbolizing those who study Torah but do not possess good deeds.
- The hadass (myrtle) has a good smell but no taste, symbolizing those who possess good deeds but do not study Torah.
- The aravah (willow) has neither taste nor smell, symbolizing those who lack both Torah and good deeds.
- The esrog has both a good taste and a good smell, symbolizing those who have both Torah and good deeds.
Every day of Sukkos, we wave them in all directions, to affirm our belief in the Master of the Universe. We rejoice because we have complete faith that during the ten days of Awe, between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, we have been judged favorably, and we are looking forward to a sweet year full of blessings.
Before I get to the recipe, I want to stress two important factors:
- When we dwell in a sukkah, we are not only fulfilling one of the commandments, we are actually surrounded by it.
- During the entire Sukkos, we extend special blessings to all the people of the world.
It is believed that a pomegranate contains 613 seeds, equal to the number of commandments. Kids are usually encouraged to count them, but I haven’t yet met a child who has been able to count all 613. Still, pomegranate is traditional both as sukkah decoration and as part of the food.
For this salad, I have added yet another symbolic touch – yellow lentils. According to the description of the High Priest’s garments, his robe was decorated on the bottom by alternating pomegranates and golden bells. I wanted to achieve this effect, using the quinoa base as a canvas.
Garlic is there for a little zing – a personality, if you will, and mint for freshness. I think , I’ve covered all bases, and all we need is seasoning.
Playing it by ear, I dressed it with lemon juice and olive oil and seasoned with my favorite combination of cinnamon and cumin, as well as salt and freshly ground pepper.
As we still have a few days of the holiday left, I am taking this opportunity to send my blessings to all of you, Beautiful People, for a sweet and wonderful year, full of joy!
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup uncooked)
- 1 cup cooked yellow lentils (1/2 cup uncooked)
- Seeds of 1 pomegranate
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves, squeezed
- A pinch of cumin
- A pinch of cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients and count your blessings – enjoy!