04 May '23
As the holiday of Sukkot approaches, demand for etrogim, the special citrus fruit used during the holiday, is at an all-time high. However, this year poses a unique challenge for Israeli etrog farmers, as it is a Shmita, or Sabbatical year, in which the land must lie fallow and no crops may be harvested.
Despite this challenge, many Israeli etrog farmers have found ways to meet the high demand for etrogim during this year of Shmita. Some have turned to innovative methods such as growing etrogim in greenhouses or on trees that are not subject to the laws of Shmita. Others have worked with rabbis and experts to develop alternative methods of harvesting etrogim during the Sabbatical year.
One farmer, Avi Kedar, has even created a unique system that allows him to harvest etrogim during the Shmita year without violating Jewish law. Kedar's system involves picking only a small portion of each etrog tree, carefully selecting the ripest fruits and leaving the rest to grow and ripen during the following year.
Despite these efforts, some farmers have chosen to take a break from the business during the Shmita year, recognizing the importance of observing Jewish law and caring for the environment.
For those who continue to harvest etrogim during the Shmita year, the demand remains high. As one farmer, Moshe Cohen, explains, "There is a lot of demand from Jews all over the world who want to fulfill the mitzvah (commandment) of holding the etrog and celebrating Sukkot properly."
Despite the challenges posed by the Shmita year, Israeli etrog farmers are determined to meet this demand and provide Jews around the world with the opportunity to fulfill this important commandment during Sukkot. Their efforts demonstrate the resilience and ingenuity of Israeli farmers, as well as the enduring importance of Jewish traditions and observances.