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.
So what are we selling? A piece of fruit and some expensive branches? No. We are selling , rather, providing, a means to attain Achdus Yisroel. Jewish Unity.
So how can we turn around the minute Yom Kippur is over (or even earlier) and start knifing every other esrog dealer in the back (or even in the front on occasion)?
What is the point of selling an item that (among other things) is supposed to invoke Hashem’s blessings for Achdus Yisroel while in the process one damages another’s parnassah and damages Achdus Yisroel?
Of course this idea was not foreign to Rabbi Levi who has, for a number of years, helped us not only in the hidur of our produce, but also in the hidur of our business. So we set about asking questions, making sure we would not get in the way of established suppliers, and B”H those in the Valley area of LA will be able to obtain beautiful sets of Arba Minim (please call Rabbi Cash at 818-761-7239 ).
I received a call the other day from an agent of some of the major esrog pardesim to see if I was interested in buying esrogim from him. I explained my situation and my approach to the Arba Minim and Achdus Yisroel. He had never viewed the esrog business in quite those terms and agreed that we, as suppliers of Arba Minim, have a special responsibility to ensure not only the physical yichus (pedigree) of our produce but also its spiritual yichus.
When you make a bracha (blessing) on your lulav and estrog, please make sure that no one’s parnassah was harmed in the process.
So wherever you are, if you have an established supplier of Arba Minim from whom you obtain good quality merchandise at a reasonable price, PLEASE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT HIM, and in the zechus of your action, may Hashem grant us Achdus Yisroel and Ahavas Yisroel.