Etrog – Esrog – Basic Judaism

Judaism –> Esrog / Etrog

Esrog / Etrog: The Etrog is used with the Lulav, Hadas (myrtle) and willow branch (Arava) at the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot . Of the Four Species of plants enumerated in Lev. xxiii. 40 , on which the carrying of the lulav is based, tradition takes “the fruit of the goodly tree” ( , properly “the fruit of a fair or noble tree”) to designate the citron. The citron (κίτρον, κίτριον); Citrus fruit of a tree of the orange and lemon family. It is oblong in shape, and sometimes as much as six inches in length. The skin is thick, some what hard, fragrant, and covered with protuberances; the pulp is white and subacid. Modern naturalists assume the north of India to be its native home; but it passed to the countries of the Mediterranean from Media or Persia ; hence the name of the tree, “Citrus medica,” and of the fruit, “Malum medica,” or “Malum Persica”

It is therefore possible that the Jews brought the tree with them from Babylonia to Eretz Yisrael on their return from the Babylonian Captivity.

What to Look for In An Esrog
  1. A
beautiful esrog should be shaped like a tower, wide at the bottom  and narrow at the top. The esrog should also be straight; it should be  recessed inward at the bottom where the stem grows; it should have  a ‘pitim’ on the end opposite from the stem; it should be free of spots

 and blemishes; and it should be covered with bumps and depressions.

“and you shall take of yourselves on the first day (of Sukkot) the fruit of a goodly tree, a palm branch, the myrtle branch, and the willow of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the L-rd your G-d seven days”
Leviticus 23

(Esrog grown
without pitim)

Click on the image for a larger view. 

2. If the esrog does not have all of these features, it may still be valid for the sake of the mitzvah. Therefore, if an esrog is not recessed, the esrog is still valid, and an esrog that is smooth – without bumps – is also valid. And if the esrog does not have a ‘pitim’ it is also valid, unless it originally had one and it came off.

3. If part of the esrog’s skin came off, or if it is dry, rotten, or punctured, it is not valid. If there are spots or blemishes that do not come off when a gentle rubbing, then it should be shown to a Rabbinic authority.

4. An esrog must be a pure bred, and not grafted from different species.

5. An esrog can be quite large in size, but it should not be smaller than an average egg.

The Festival of Sukkot begins on Tishri 15, the fifth day after Yom Kippur. It is quite a drastic transition,
from one of the most solemn holidays in our year to one of the most joyous.

This festival is sometimes referred to as Zeman Simkhateinu, the Season of our Rejoicing. Sukkot lasts for seven days. The two days following the festival are separate holidays, Shemini Atzeret and Simkhat Torah, but are

commonly thought of as part of Sukkot.

The word “Sukkot” means “booths,” and refers to the temporary dwellings that we are commanded to live in during this holiday. The name of the holiday is frequently translated “The Feast of Tabernacles,” which, like many translations of technical Jewish terms, isn’t terribly useful unless you already know what the term is

referring to. The Hebrew pronunciation of Sukkot is “Sue COAT,” but is often pronounced as in Yiddish, to rhyme

with “BOOK us.”

Each day of Succos we take the Lulav and Esrog and wave it gently in every direction; right, left, forward, up,
down, and to the rear, to show that Hashem is truly everywhere.

The Blessing on the Lulav

Take the Lulav in your right hand and say the blessing:

Boruch Atoh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Melech Ho-olom Asher Kid’shonu

B’mitzvoisov V’tzivonu Al Netilas Lulov.

The first time you do this, also say the blessing “Sheh-heh-che-yonu:”

Boruch Atoh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Melech Ho-olom Sheh-heh-che-yonu

V’kee-monu V’hi-gi-onu Lizman Hazeh.

During the morning service, we take the Lulav and Esrog and hold them during the Hallel prayer, waving them at certain points. Then we take out a Sefer torah and stand with it in the center of the synagogue (on the Bima),

and circle it, holding our Lulav, as we recite a special prayer for blessing in the coming year. This is called