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The (sometimes surprising) beauty of the (green!) etrog

09/28/2018 11:20:40 AM


Rabbi Allison Berry

Sukkot is a holiday that celebrates the beauty and abundance of nature. As we enter the Sukkah, we reflect on the wandering of our ancestors in the desert and are reminded that this flimsy space is not only held up by wood and often tarp, but by the stories and memories of people we love who we symbolically and often in reality invite to dwell with us in this sacred space.
We are traditionally taught that the etrog (or citron), one of the symbols of the harvest that we use during Sukkot, represents the human heart. The lulav is representative of the spine, the eyes and the lips that make up a significant part of the human body. Thus, as we bring the lulav and etrog - these unique, Jewish symbols - into the Sukkah, we bring our minds, bodies and souls, along with our sacred memories into harmony with one another.
Imagine our astonishment when the etrogim we ordered from Israel this year instead of their usual bright, cheery yellow were in fact green (you will see them at Friday evening services)! Rabbi Abrasley and I were taken aback. We immediately jumped into Jewish texts – the Shulchan Aruch law code and others - to figure out whether this type of surprising etrog could be used during Sukkot. It was fascinating to uncover hundreds of years of rabbinic debate about the halachah (Jewish legal) validity of green etrogim. The rabbinic conclusion: if an etrog has a speck of yellow or begins to turn yellow during the week of Sukkot, then it is valid for use!
This Friday evening, we hope you will join us as we celebrate Shabbat and the beauty of Sukkot. We will bring our green etrogim and our bodies, minds, souls and sacred memories together as we celebrate the abundance and (sometimes surprising) beauty of our world.

Wed, June 19 2019 16 Sivan 5779