In preparation for the holiday of Sukkot, many Jews around the world will purchase a lulav (bound date, myrtle and willow fronds) and an etrog (a citron) for use during synagogue and in their sukkahs. Although the two objects may seem humble, together they can cost a very pretty penny.
In a recent informal poll, we found that nearly a third of individuals spend $40-75 on a lulav and etrog, while 18% spend more than $75.
According to Rabbi Yisroel Altein, a Chabad rabbi in Pittsburgh whose family has been importing Calabrian etrogim since the 1920s, there are many factors that make the fruits so expensive, and many of them occurred this year:
“Last year there was a frost [in Italy] that destroyed a lot of the crop and as a result the prices last year were extremely high. This year, thank G-d, the crop was good. However, the farmers needed to recoup the efforts of bringing the orchards back up to par, and the charge was slightly higher than usual. The cost for a nice Italian set this year was about $125. While people were certainly paying $250+ for a very nice etrog (The etrogim from Israel are usually considerably cheaper). In order to ensure that the etrog tree is kosher, not grafted with any other trees, we have two rabbis on the field at the time of the cutting. People are looking for an etrog that is shaped to their liking, straight, and clean with no markings on them. It is not like buying a fruit where people don’t analyze the exact shape and markings of the fruit.”
How much are you spending on the four species? Let us know:
Sukkot is fast approaching! How much are you going to / did you spend on your lulav and etrog? ??— Laura E. Adkins (@Laura_E_Adkins) September 20, 2018
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