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Lessons of the Lulav: Zaide Reuven and the Lulav Shortage of 5766

Every year, towards the end of Succot, I begin to clean up my garage. Despite my attempts to keep some semblance of order, my garage somehow manages to accumulate boxes. Box bottoms without tops. Box tops without bottoms. Also foam packing. Lots of it. And those strips that peel away from the sticky parts of FEDEX boxes. They get everywhere. And leaves. Palm leaves. They also get everywhere.

Last year (5765) as I reunite the seasonal center of operations for Zaide Reuven’s Esrog Farm with its more regular tenant, my motor vehicle, I have in my hand the last box. A long beaten up and perforated cardboard box about four feet long, ten inches wide and six inches tall. And as I contemplate the disposition of this box, I think about its origin. It is an Egyptian box. It came from Egypt. And in it were lulavs. Lulavim. Unopened fronds from the center of the palm tree. And I wonder. Continue reading “Lessons of the Lulav: Zaide Reuven and the Lulav Shortage of 5766”

Selling Achdus Yisroel – Jewish Unity

Our friend Rabbi Levi Cash, who for a number of years worked with Zaide Reuven’s Esrog Farm in Dallas, recently moved to the LA area. Convinced of the quality of our famed esrogim, Rabbi Levi discussed with us the possibility of making them available in the LA area. We agreed on one condition, that even though “al pi halacha” he would be be able to set up shop and start selling, it would not be c’dai (appropriate) if we were in any way going to impinge on the parnassah (livleihood) of another.

To explain this, let’s remind ourselves of the famous Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 30:12) which regards each of the Four Species as one of four kinds of Jew who comprise the Jewish people:

  • The Esrog (smell and taste) is the Jew who combines Torah study with good deeds.
  • The Lulav (taste but no smell) is the Jew who studies Torah, but does no good deeds.
  • The Hadas (smell but no taste) is the Jew who performs good deeds, but does not study Torah.
  • The Arava (no smell, no taste) is the Jew who neither studies Torah nor performs good deeds.

According to this Midrash Hashem said “I do not want to destroy even the last group; let all four groups unite so that one can atone for other”.

According to this interpretation, the essence of the Four Species is Jewish Unity, Achdus Yisroel, and Ahavas Yisroel (love within the nation).

Let’s think about that. We take the lulav and esrog to invoke Hashem’s blessing that we, as a nation, should have Unity and Love.
Unity and love. We need both more than ever. Continue reading “Selling Achdus Yisroel – Jewish Unity”

The Lulav Crisis of 5766

Zaide Reuven’s Esrog Farm interviewed in Florida press on the lulav crisis of 5766.

ST. PETERSBURG – It has always been Louisa Benjamin’s favorite holiday, the eight days that follow soon after Yom Kippur, when Jews gather in temporary outdoor shelters to celebrate the fall harvest and commemorate the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness to the Holy Land.

Sukkot, the festival of thanksgiving, began Monday at sundown. For the second year in a row, the Largo artist, her husband and two young children put up a three-sided shelter in their back yard and festooned it with paper chains, fake fruit, gourds, shells, pictures, and palm and banana leaves. Throughout the holiday, the Benjamins, friends and family will gather under the sukkah for festive meals.

Benjamin said she wants to carry on the traditions with which she grew up. The family built a bigger sukkah this year, 8 by 16 feet.

“I wanted to be able to seat more people,” Benjamin said. “I grew up in Atlanta and growing up, I would always go to my teacher’s home and other friends’ and families’ homes to celebrate.”

It’s a religious obligation to “dwell” in the three-sided outdoor shelter during Sukkot. Another requires the recitation of blessings with four species of plants, which together make up the lulav and etrog. A lulav is made up of palm, willow and myrtle branches. The etrog is a citrus fruit native to Israel. Continue reading “The Lulav Crisis of 5766”