Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jewish Law, Secret to Jewish Survival, "Never Settle For a Lemon When You Need an Etrog"

A couple of days before the Succot Holiday began, my friend and I were walking in Jerusalem.  Besides all the sizes, shapes and structures of the succot we saw, the fashionable decorations this year seem to be fake fruit and vegetables.  They seemed like the 1950's wax fruit of our childhood but anorexic. 

It is an improvement over the xmas decorations that have been sold in the frummest of frum neighborhoods for decades.  Maybe the rich chareidi immigrants have influenced the succah decoration market, like they've raised real estate prices.

There's a lot you can do when building a succah without compromising it's "kashrut," suitability according to Jewish Law.  The walls can be out of almost any material and even permanent. Only the roof has to be special. It's called s'chach.

Most of the "model succot" we saw at Beit Avichai weren't be kosher at all.   Their aim was just creativity, not for use, even if enlarged.  One of the most moving was the one being removed by tractor.

Now, there isn't much you can do with the other Succot mitzvah, Arbaat Haminim, the Four Species.

"And you shall take for you on the first day, the fruit of the tree ‘hadar’ and branches of palm trees, and a bough of the tree avot and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Hashem, your G-d, seven days." Leviticus Chapter 23
The "Etrog," the Citron, resembles in its shape, the heart, the driving force behind all our actions. The "Lulav," the Palm Branch, resembles the spine, which holds the body together and, without which, we would be unable to move. The "Hadasim," the Myrtle Branches, resemble, in their almond-shape, the eyes, with which we behold G-d's World. And the "Aravot," the Willow Branches, resemble the lips, with which we give expression to our thoughts and feelings.
By holding these four together, we show that a person should devote all of his-or- her strengths and capacities to the Service of Hashem. (complete article)

The four species all taken together make up one single mitzvah. If any of the species are missing then you have not fulfilled the mitzvah at all. One lulav, one etrog, two aravot, and three hadasim is taken on Sukkot. The lulav, hadasim and aravot are bound together.

For this mitzvah we need the real thing.  We can't use similar fruit or leaves.  Jews have somehow managed to keep this mizvah for thousands of years, all over the world.  Think about it.  I find it amazing.

No other People, no other religion has kept to the same religious laws for as long as the Jewish People.  And no other People have kept to their religion even after an exile as drastic and world encompassing as the Jewish Exile.  And no other People has remained as loyal to its Land, even when for two thousand years the majority of the Jewish People have lived in exile.  Demographers believe that we're at the point when more than half the Jewish People are living here in the Holy Land.  This is a great miracle.

It's because Jews have done everything possible to carry on Jewish Life according to Jewish Law no matter how difficult. 

Never settle for a lemon when you need an etrog.

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