Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Suddenly Gone

In elementary school, when we used to have school on Chol Ha-Mo'ed Sukkos (pronounced: Cholamoyid Sukkis), I remember once having a big Hoshanah Rabbah round of hoshanos, in which everybody paraded around with their lulav and esrog. I think I was in sixth grade, and I hadn't brought a lulav and esrog. So I asked my friend Tani if I could borrow his, after he went around. He allowed me to but warned me to be careful because the pitom (the stem on top) might fall off if I dropped the esrog. So, of course, I accidentally dropped the esrog and the pitom fell off. I felt so bad. After all, I told the person next to me when I dropped it, an esrog whose pitom falls off isn't kosher. Granted, Hoshanah Rabbah is the last day of Sukkos, so they wouldn't need the esrog any more. But what if they wanted to eat it? It wasn't kosher any more!

As I later learned, I had been wrong on two counts:

1. When they say that an esrog isn't kosher, they mean that it isn't kosher specifically for the mitzvah of the four species on Sukkos. It is still kosher to eat.

2. An esrog whose pitom falls off is usually still kosher. According to most posekim and contrary to conventional wisdom, if the pitom falls off but there is still even a tiny bit of stem sticking out, the esrog is entirely kosher (cf. Mishnah Berurah 648:30). However, if there is a hole (even tiny) in the esrog where the pitom used to be, then it is not kosher. But otherwise, it is.

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