A frost in Italy impacts Sukkot

Friday, 25 August, 2017 - 2:57 pm

In the book Hayom Yom, the Rebbe cites, “that during the Amidah, when reciting the blessing for crops and livelihood, one should have in mind wheat for matzah, the Etrog (and wine for kiddush).”

Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the first Chabad Rebbe writes, that when G-d was commanding Moses regarding the Mitzah of the Etrog, He dispatched an angel to bring an Etrog to show them what it was. The angel descended to a region in Italy known as Calabria or Magna Graecia, which is in the southern coastal part of the country and brought an Etrog from there. It is therefore the Chabad custom to use an Etrog from that region. They are known as Calabria Etrogim or Yanova Etrogim (because they were distributed to the rest of Europe out of Genoa (which is pronounced Yanova in the Jewish dialect).

During very tumultuous times such as the Napoleonic war era, WWI and WWII, Chabad Chasidim and especially the Rebbes, went to great pains to obtain an Etrog from that area. In 1940, while fleeing from the Nazis in France, the Rebbe smuggled himself over the French-Italian border at great risk to obtain an Etrog from Calabria.

Italian farming families in that region have over the last century developed the industry to the point that they are fully supported by a crop that has value for only one week a year! While industrial development and the tourist – resort industry has nearly eliminated the citron (Etrog) farming in the rest of Italy, in Calabria, there are families and farms who are clinging to their citron orchards to be able to provide this religious need to those that require it. They have established relationships with Rabbis who supervise the Etrog crop to ensure that it is free of grafting which would invalidate the Etrog for ritual use.

This past winter, a freak frost in Italy brought the temperature to below freezing for 4 days in Calabria. In just those four days, 80 percent of the Calabria Etrog crop was destroyed and rendered unfit for use on Sukkot. This has left the farmers and Etrog sellers with a major shortage. It will most likely impact both price and availability.

Here at Chabad in New Orleans, Rabbi Mendy Schechter has been the distributor of Etrogim for the past decade. He usually offers a choice of Etrogim from Israel and Calabria (Italy). This year the Calabria Etorg shortage will have an impact on availability and price. Over the next two weeks the market will be determined and we will be sending out an email about the orders. Should you have any questions in the meantime, please email him at [email protected].

Etrog merchants have expressed their amazement at the 20 percent that miraculously survived the frost. G-d was surely looking out for those that are careful to perform the Mitzvah on Sukkot using Calabria Etrogim.

We welcome Berry & Chaya (Kaufmann) Silver and their family to our community. We wish them much luck in their transition to New Orleans and success in all of their endeavors.

We also wish to welcome again, Nachum Amosi, who is back in New Orleans from Israel. Hatzlacha Rabba.

Wishing each of you to be written and inscribed for a good and sweet year!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin 

Comments on: A frost in Italy impacts Sukkot
There are no comments.