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September 23, 1983 - Image 6

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1983-09-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

-

6 Friday, September 23-, 1983

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

The Many-Scented Bouquet of the Sukkot Holiday

(Continued from Page 1)
a three-fold linkage of an
historical, agricultural and
spiritual nature.
In ancient times the etrog
was one of the best known of
the citrus fruits grown in
the land of Israel. Depic-
tions of etrogim are found
on ancient coins and pot-
tery. Thus the modern
usage of the Israeli etrog
worldwide is a perpetual
reminder of the antiquity of
this beautiful fruit of the
holy land.
Interestingly, it is only
within this century that the
cultivation of the etrog in
Palestine became agricul-
turally viable. During the
Middle Ages, etrogim from
the isle of Corfu came into
use and this continued into
this century. In the early
1900s, just about 80 years
ago, Rav Kook ruled that

only Palestine etrogim were
fit for ritual use on Sukkot.
His halakhic stand, stem-
ming from his love of the
land and its pioneers, pro-
vided a boost to the citrus
farming of the country. The
Jewish state has benefited
substantially from his de-
finitive action and infinite
concern, and hundreds of
thousands of Israel etrogim
are sold annually in every
country where Jews reside.
As a Jew born in the
, U.S. and now settled in
Israel, two markets for
the sale of the lulav and
etrog and the myrtle and
willow branches stand
out in my mind. One is on
the eastside in downtown
New York, where stores
of all types become Suk-
kot specialty shops dur-
ing the few weeks before
the festival.

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The other are the myriad
markets of Jerusalem, each
more colorful than the other
and stretching from
Mahane Yehuda into Mea
Shearim. My children and I
make the grand tour each
year just to capture the
flavor and fervor of the
sellers and the buyers.
However, my love for the
four species derive in the
first place from my child-
hood experiences in the
home of my grandfather,
the late Rabbi Tobias Gef-
fen.
Residing in Atlanta, Ga.,
our hometown, made the
annual acquisition of the
lulav and etrog much more
difficult than just going and
picking out a set in the open
marketplace. My grand-
father, from his arrival in
the city in 1910, felt it his
responsibility not just to get
the Sukkot apecies for him-
self but also for Jews
throughout the South. De-
lays in their arrival in At-
lanta until just before the
holiday gave rise to innova-
tive methods of seeing that
lulav and etrog got to its
final destination on time.
As a young lad, my
father had to take the
Sukkot set to the railroad
station on the eve of Suk-
kot. He waited until the
train arrived and then
gave the precious cargo
to the engineer, who per-
sonally kept watch over it
in the engine of his
Southern Railway train.
On arrival at his destina-
tion he delivered it to his
next-door neighbor, an
observant Jew in a small
Georgia town.
My most poignant
memories relate specifically
to observing my grand-
father as he prepared the
lulavim. He would inspect
each lulav, checking the
spine and the point very
closely. Then he stripped off
a few of the long lulav
leaves and intricately wove
holder after holder for the
myrtle and willow
branches. With an exact-
ness, of which only he was
capable, he fashioned hol-
ders for all the lulavim and
then an extra one for me to
play with.
Then he meticulously put
together the entire lulav
set, and once again checked
the etrogim to make sure
the pitom was still intact.
The sets were now ready to
be sent and were quickly
dispatched by the U.S. mail
services to communities
widely spread throughout
the South.
The etrog, according to
the Midrash, symbolizes the
heart. For the Jewish people
today, the state of Israel re-
presented by the etrog is our
spiritual heart. The heart is
that organ of the body that
must pump the lifeblood to
the rest of the system. In our
own day Israel has the re-

Despair is a willful busi-
ness, common to corrupt
blood, and to weak woeful
minds; native to the sen-
timentalist of the better or-
der.
—George Meredith

sponsibility of providing
spiritual sustenance for
Jewish people the world
over so that every section of
Am Yisrael will continually
be revitalized.
This year on Sukkot as
we tenderly hold our
lulav and etrog adorned
by the myrtle and willow
branches, we are re-

minded of the ongoing
continuity of our tradi-
tion through this most
ancient of rituals.
Furthermore, on this fes-
tival let our hearts beat in
unison with the challenge of
the etrog, pointing to the vi-
tality of the interrelation-
ship between the people and
the land of Israel.

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