Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why do some Chabadnikim shun Eretz Yisrael Etrogim?

Updates in this post...

I recently learned that there are some Chabad (Lubavitch) chassidim who insists on using "Yanover" etrogim from the Italian province of Calabria, despite the availability of Yanover etrogim from Eretz Yisrael which also have "Kedushat Eretz Yisrael"

Chabad's website states:
It is of utmost importance that you purchase your Four Kinds from a trustworthy, G‑d-fearing vendor, and that the etrog is rabbinically certified. An etrog that is harvested from a tree that was grafted together with another species – a practice that is unfortunately common, as the hybrid product is quite beautiful – is invalid for Sukkot use. Rabbinical certification guarantees that the etrog is from a tree that was inspected to ascertain that it is "purebred."

This is one of the reasons why many prefer to use an etrog that comes from the Italian province of Calabria, also known as "Yanover" etrogs. The etrog orchards in this region have been providing etrogs for centuries and are known to be of untainted pedigree.
Could anyone please enlighten me why Chabad still insists on using Etrogim from Chutz LaAretz, while there are now tens of thousands of "purebred" etrogim, grown in Eretz Yisrael?

The "Arba Minim Center" claims:

These Esrogim come from Calabria in Italy, are usually exceptionally clean and well shaped. The majority are grown without a Pitum. They are favoured by Chabad chassidim who have a tradition that Moshe Rabeinu used an Esrog from Italy.

The Baal Hatanya says that Moshe Rabbeinu used an Etrog from Italy.

This could explain the real reason Moshe didn't merit coming into Eretz Yisrael (and not for the hitting/speaking to the rock episode)

Some found the above overly insulting, so I struck it out. However, it's based on the pain felt by The Orech HaShulachan and R' Kook, who lament the fact that people prefer etrogim from Chutz Laaretz over those from Eretz Yisrael.





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33 comments:

Rafi G. said...

are you sure this is really the cas ein practice?

I thought the chabadniks had planted large orchards of esrogim trees in Kfar Chabad using seeds fro the Rebbe's esrogim and they use these now as well.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rafi: All the internet links I've browsed talk about the "holy etrogs from Italy"...

Maybe some chabadniks did plant etrogim here -- so WHY are they still buying from Italy?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Moshe Rabbeinu picked up an etrog from Italy, when he was there buying his black suit and hat.

Caleb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SF2K01 said...

I actually prefer the non-pitom variety since it's less trouble (it can't break off if it's not there), but I'd rather buy ones grown here (Israel).

Of all the chabadniks I've ever talked to, they don't seem to insist that their esrogim come from Italy/Shmutz Laaretz, they just say that the Rebbe reccomends this type of Esrog. I'm sure those who buy from Italy are not doing it for any specific reason (and the website's paragraph written by someone who is simply writing some elementary ideas that they've heard), that's just where some of the orchards happen to be.

As far as the idea that Moshe Rabbeinu used "Italian" etrogs, the etrog varieties have clearly moved around, but I doubt he bought his at the local etrog shop in Egypt. I wouldn't take the Arba Minim center as an authority of why chabad uses that variety.

The whole business of worrying about grafting (as per the website) is also complete nonsense as grafting doesn't actually change the seed DNA (only cross-pollination creates actual hybrids), so in reality most varieties are as original as they're going to get.

shimon said...

1. Yanover esrog (originally from Calabria, Italy) is a variety, not a location. Most of them come from Kfar Chabad Israel.

2. It is an ancient midrash that HKBH, when explaining on Har Sinai to Moshe Rabeinu what is a Pri Etz Hadar, transported him to Calabria and showed him. It's not a Chabad story.

3. Arzei Halevanon came from Chu"l. Yayin Kafrisin came from Chu"l. And many many other things.

RAM said...

Shimon, please cite and translate the original source of this midrash for us. Thanks!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

shimon:

1. The vast majority of etrog sellers claim their yanover etrogim actually come from Calabria.

2. I'd appreciate the source of this midrash -- I've never heard of it before. (I can translate it myself, thanks :)

3. There's a big difference between building materials, such as "Arzei Halivanon" and the fruits of the land of Israel. [And Lebanon will eventually be part of the borders of Israel].

In masechet Kritut (6b) the Braita that discusses "Pitum Haketoret", Rashi brings 2 explanations for "Yayin Kafrisim".

The first, is wine from Cyprus, the second is that its wine made from the buds from a type of plant called a "Kafrisim".

The Etz Yosef commentary on the siddur only brings the second explanation from Rashi for "Yayin Kafrisin"

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Shimon: FYI, Chabad claims the source of the "Moshe flew to Calabria to get an etrog" is the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch. No midrashic source is cited.

I suggest you read this article, section daled, about why one should use an etrog from Eretz Yisrael, starting with the Rambam's view, R' Yechiel Epstein (Aroch HaShulchan), R' AY Kook, and others.

R' Epstein wrote as follows:

ולכן כל איש מישראל אשר נגע יראת ה' בליבו לא ייקח [אלה] רק אתרוגי ארץ ישראל. ואיך לא נבוש ולא ניכלם בדבר מצוה שנוכל לקיימה מפרי ארצנו הקדושה ליטול דווקא מארץ העמים? אוי לה לאותה בושה, אוי לה לאותה כלימה. ועל זה נאמר: "וימאסו בארץ חמדה"


ערוך השולחן, או"ח, סימן תרמח, סעיף כט

Joshua said...

Well, with the Israeli etrog crop supposedly being damaged due to high heat (per JTA), I guess Calabria would probably be the only viable location.

Anonymous said...

Lol, im my community we get shipments of etrog's from kfar chabad! as far as i know thats in israel....

Menashe said...

In response to a questioner who inquired as to why Lubavitcher Chassidim specifically purchase Esrogim grown in Italy as opposed to ones grown in the Land of Israel, the Rebbe wrote:

http://chabad.info/index.php?url=article_en&id=20361

I don't know the practice of Israeli Lubavitchers but i can tell you that in crown heights only those that cannot afford a proper yanover from Italy will buy one from kfar chabad.

Batya said...

They're terribly ambivalent about Israel, the Holy Land etc.
Probably a business call. Investigate.

Nachum said...

There's no such thing as an strog with no pitam- the pitam (the shoshanta, technically) is the dried-up flower, and every fruit has a flower. If you leave it on the branch long enough (or, better, don't pick it early), it drops off.

The "purity" thing is kind of nonsensical- every fruit we have, especially citrus, is the result of much interbreeding starting millennia ago. But certainly most etrogim we have are as "pure" as you're going to get.

Anonymous said...

Kedushat Haaretz? Who cares.

יחי אדוננו מורנו ובראנו מלך המשיח לעולם ועד, ממש

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Anonymous: I guess R' Epstein was writing about YOU:

אוי לה לאותה בושה, אוי לה לאותה כלימה. ועל זה נאמר: "וימאסו בארץ חמדה"

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that you are starting a machloches with Chabad. If you really cared about the issue, then why didn't you speak with some Chabad rabbanim about it. I worked as a professional journalist for many years, and this is NOT fair or professional reporting. Further, Chabad, including me and my family, were side by side (literally) with you in trying to prevent the disengagement and when every other religious party in the land of Israel said it was OK to give land for peace, only the Lubavitcher Rebbe warned that "talk" about giving away land would endanger millions in the holy land. I am frightened by the consequences your smugness can have at this critical time. Please be more careful. Until this point, I saw you as someone who valued lives, and saved lives and had great ahavas yisroel. By the way, we buy our esrog from Eretz Yisroel. good moed..

Jewish Odysseus said...

I got our first-ever etrog and lulav this year through our closest Chabad house. I can report that they gave me a lovely fruit in a box that indicates it is a product of Israel! (B'Nai Barak, "Merkaz Etrogey Israel").

BTW, I will have some interesting photos of this etrog box up soon... ; )

Anonymous said...

How dare you redo the reasons in the Torah, and say that the reason Moshe didnt enter is because of your own zionistic reasons.

As a freind of Chabad, I am so offended by this post, I'm discontinuing my readership of this blog...

If there are a group of Jews who have a custom, instead of mocking it, on a public forum, try speaking to a knowledgable chabad rabbi, for an answer....

Yitzchak Goodman said...

The vast majority of etrog sellers claim their yanover etrogim actually come from Calabria.

As far as I know, if you are interested in my two cents (sorry, shekels), that is what is meant by a "Yanover" when a Chabadnik buys one. The Kfar Chabad ones grown in Israel have a Yanover pedigree, but they are usually called "Kfar Chabad" esrogim. The Chabad Sefer Haminhagim cites the Responsa of the Chasam Sofer to Orach Chayim 207 that esrogim need a mesora and that the Yanover ones have one. In the tradition brought by the Alter Rebbe, according to Sefer Haminhagim, Moshe Rabbeinu stayed in Eretz Yisroel and "emissaries" were dispatched on the clouds to bring back an esrog from Calabria. (The Alter Rebbe, it is worth noting, is an important posek, and not just in Chabad circles.) In any event, Chabad is very supportive of Eretz Yisroel in general and specifically they are probably also great benefactors of Israeli esrog growers since they promote the mitzvah of daled minim heavily and are commonly the ones making esrogim, including Israeli-grown ones, available for sale in remote areas. And this Chabad Chassid, anyway, is a big fan of the Muqata blog. Gut moed, Jameel.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

To all:

The point of this post was the numerous sources about Chabadnikim who prefer to buy etrogim from Italy instead of from Eretz Yisrael.

There are plenty of Chabadnikim who purchase etrogim from Israel, yet there are many, many others who davka buy etrogim from Italy.

The links provided in this comment thread, from chabadnikim, (which then appear under the banner stating the Rebbe is alive and well and is the Mashiach), provide a hand written note (allegedly from the rebbe) espousing the importance of buying an etrog from Italy.

As I have noted, most poskim found it offensive to use an etrog from chutz laaretz, when there are perfectly excellent etrogim available today from Eretz Yisrael.

I assume those that continue buying etrogim from Italy today are the same misguided Chabadnikim that believe the Rebbe is still alive, and is the Mashiach.

I can only hope it's the sane chabadnikim that understand the Rebbe is no longer with us, that also buy their etrogim from Eretz Yisrael.

Moed Tov!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Yitzchak G: Do you have a source for . In the tradition brought by the Alter Rebbe, according to Sefer Haminhagim, Moshe Rabbeinu stayed in Eretz Yisroel and "emissaries" were dispatched on the clouds to bring back an esrog from Calabria.

When did Moshe Rabbeinu go to Eretz Yisrael?

Vilnius said...

Why are the Chabadnikim jumping all over Jameel?

He provided links from authentic Chabad websites. If you have a problem with the content, take it up with the Chabad websites...or should Jameel just ignore everything ever written by Chabad.Info are others?

Yitzchak Goodman said...

Do you have a source for . In the tradition brought by the Alter Rebbe, according to Sefer Haminhagim . . . ?" I had my copy of Sefer Haminhagim open when I wrote the comment. The SH"M does not directly cite the Alter Rebbe's written works, by the way. Interstingly, it cites sichos of the contemporary Rebbe.

When did Moshe Rabbeinu go to Eretz Yisrael?

Good point. He was in the wilderness, not in Eretz Yisroel.

As I have noted, most poskim found it offensive to use an etrog from chutz laaretz, when there are perfectly excellent etrogim available today from Eretz Yisrael.

Do most poskim express an opinion on the question? SH'M beings a few other poskim besides the Chasam Sofer.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

I assume those that continue buying etrogim from Italy today are the same misguided Chabadnikim that believe the Rebbe is still alive . . .

Not at all. You never noticed we Chabadniks have our own customs for everything? We don't use those fancy daled minim holders. We davka tie the the daled minim with simple rings. We have a Chabad way of tying tzitsis, tefillin with the Alter Rebbe's k'sav, a very plain big tallis, more s'chach on the Sukkah than anyone else, etc.

Did you happen to look at the whole se'if (and the preceding one) in the Aruch Hashulchan? A big issue in his argument is that the ones from Israel are under hashgacha from "Gedolei Yisroel vetalmidei chachamim yorei Elokim" to make sure there is no harkava. He mentions the holiness of Eeetz Yisroel in a little rhetorical flourish at the end, but I don't think that is really what is exercising him.

How is your Sukkos going? It got up to 112 degrees here in Los Angeles today. That might have been the hottest day of this whole summer here.

Menashe said...

Jameel,

Your assumptions are wrong on so many levels that I don't know where even to begin. Nor do I plan to. It's clear you've chosen a conclusion that fits comfortably with your world view and that any responses to the contrary will be met with hostility and/or derision.

Vilnius,

The links that Jameel provided state the exact opposite of what you decided they should say. They clearly state that we are makpid to bentch on Yanover Esrogim.

Anonymous said...

If you've ever learnt more than a few pages of Tanya in your life, especially Igeres Hakodesh. You'll see the sharpest leshonos towards giving money and support to Eretz Yisroel, and the chavivus of Eretz Yisroel, and many CHAPTERS are dedicated to it, The Alter Rebbe even sent many of his chassidim to eretz yisroel.

So to come here and take the esrog issue completely out of context with chabads view of Eretz Yisroel,( and disrespect the Rebbe's opinion, regardless of what you believe) is really out of line...

Anonymous said...

Who knew you had (past tense) so many Chabad readers!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Hi All - Moadim L'Simcha.

A few comments...

- First of all, a shout-out to Yitzchak Goodman who appears to be melting in L.A....its hot here, but nothing compared to that!) Drop me a line when you get back home. Regards to all!

- To the person above who stated, "How dare you redo the reasons in the Torah, and say that the reason Moshe didnt enter is because of your own zionistic reasons."

What does Kedushat HaAretz have to do with Zionism?

I will modify the posting above, to say that SOME Chabad people (and clearly, not all) prefer Etrogim from Italy instead of Eretz Yisrael.

I find it disappointing that people insist on buying etrogim from Italy that have ZERO kedushat haaretz instead of buying them from Eretz Yisrael.

The point here was NOT to start a machloket with Chabad, which is why I will change the posting contents.

That said, I do have serious issues with Chabadnkim who davka buy their etrogim from Italy and/or believe the Rebbe is alive and the mashiach.

An "Old" "Friend" said...

Jameel: I will modify the posting above, to say that SOME Chabad people (and clearly, not all) prefer Etrogim from Italy instead of Eretz Yisrael.

Aha! Why am I not surprised? In the end, you always show your true colors.

You should be ashamed of yourself for writing a post that implicitly supports and endorses the purchasing of esrogim from Italy, instead of from Eretz Yisroel.

And don't think that you're fooling anyone by your transparent "criticism" of people who buy esrogim from chutz la'aretz. Everyone can tell that's obviously phony. If you truly wanted to criticise them, you would have really spoken out against it.

Your silence is deafening and defining.

With posts like this, it's no wonder that you have been rapidly losing all your anti-Italian-esrog readers.

If I had the time and actually cared about any of this, I would organize an international boycott of your blog.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

OK, yesterday's heat-spike is over. It is now a balmy 93 degrees outside. That's a relief.

Did you get a chance to look at the whole discussion in the Aruch Hashulchan? A big part of his argument is that who knows what is really going on in the orchards in Italy since there are only a few Jews and they are afraid of the locals. The mashmaos of a lot of what he is saying is that the concern over harkava trumps everything, which makes sense--a murkav esrog is posul. He happens to think that the circumstances are better in Eretz Yisrael--he doesn't reduce the issue to merely one's devotion to Artzeinu Hakodesh, although he finishes off with some rhetoric in that vein. If you really take the Aruch Hashulchan's argument as the last word on the subject, there are some Eretz Yisreol esrogim that you would shy away from since logically his doubts about the pedigree of the Yanover ones would also apply to Israeli esrogim grown from Yanover seeds. Other poskim evidently, including the founder of Chabad, thought the Yanover ones were actually preferable for pedigree reasons. That's often the way it is in halachah: there is never a last word.

The Sefer Haminhagim (p. 140 in the English version) states that a Yanover is preferable, so if there are "official" Chabad customs, I would say that's an example. The Kfar Chabad esrogim are popular also since you usually get a nicer esrog for the money. The Moshiach campaign and the accompanying politics have nothing to do with this subject.

Gut Yom Tov

Anonymous said...

Well, at least the Shomronim still like you: You can't keep all the breakaway sects happy all the time.

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