Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Getting My Garnet Fix

For as long as I can remember, I've loved the connection between garnets and pomegranates.

I was reminded of this association this past Shabbat during a visit to the American Museum of Natural History. (The details of why I was there amidst the endless swarm of families and tourists on perhaps the busiest day of the year is a story for another time.) Nonetheless, I enjoyed the hour or so I spent in the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems oogling the colorful gemstones from bright pink rubies and green emeralds to citrine, quartz, sapphire, and my favorite, the deep red garnet.

Confirming what I knew to be true, the didactic text accompanying the displays indicated that the word "garnet" derives from the Latin word "granatus," which means seed like appearance or containing many seeds. Early biblical writings, the text continued, often associated garnets with faith, constancy, and truth.

Is it any wonder then, that Noah, according to tradition, used a garnet lamp to help steer the ark safely through the flood?