10/17/2008

Holiday Roundup

The holiday roundup thus far:

On the Yamim Noraim, I gave 2 shiurim and davened a Shacharit, a Maariv, and Neilah for the amud. Nevertheless, I emerged feeling pretty uninspired and that the Yamim Tovim were “Lo Nora”. It’s possible that I’ve been so absorbed in my new self-employment that I simply have not been able to focus on it.

Whenever I clapped at latznu, I was being “toveil ve-sheretz be-yado”.

I’ve been reading up a bit on the history of etrogim. Fascinating history. One amusing recollection that I have is of an Israeli discussing the responsum of the Chatam Sofer on the kashrut of the so-called “Yanover Esrogim”. These esrogim were actually from Southern Italy, but reached Central Europe via the port of Genoa (Yanova). The Israeli kept referring to the city of Geneva, which neither possesses the climate to grow citrons nor is a port city.

I also noticed yesterday, when visiting a religious yishuv, that they labeled an etrog tree with a short description that includes the purported fact that etrogim were introduced into Israel around the time of Ezra. I think that this is generally accepted by historians and botanists (or perhaps it is a bit early by their count), but I was under the impression that the general thinking in mainstream Orthodox circles is that the etrog goes back to the time of Moshe and the giving of the Torah. I’m not disturbed by the idea that there was some ambiguity regarding the identity of the pri etz hadar. There are some indicators in Tanach (Nechemiah 8:15) and in the Gemara (Kiddushin 70a) that the etrog was a foreign import and not initially understood to be the Biblical pri etz hadar. However, I was unaware that there were segments of the Orthodox world who took this as a foregone conclusion.

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