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Q: How Will Shemittah Affect This Year’s Esrog Market?
A: This year, the Arbah Minim market will have some changes that become relevant once every seven years. During the Shemittah year, many people have questions. Where will Arbah Minim be coming from this year? What will the market be like? Understandably, there is some confusion as esrog season approaches.
Q: Seven years is a long time, and many people don’t remember what they did during the last Shemittah year. Can you explain to us how a Shemittah year is different than a regular year?
A: During a regular year, the vast majority of Chavon Ish, and Teimani esrogim are imported from Eretz Yisroel. These are the esrogim meyuchasim that are preferred by many Lakewood bnei Torah. During the Shemittah year, many of these pardesim are made completely hefker. These orchards generally do not work with Otzar Bais Din. Furthermore, many of the pardesim that do work with Otzar Bais Din do not export to America. Obviously, this means that there are not very many good quality meyuchas Chazon Ish esrogim coming to America from Eretz Yisroel this year.
Therefore, the focus of the market shifts to finding good esrogim from chutz la’aretz that meet these standards.
Q: Where are esrogim grown in chutz la’aretz?
A: The two types of esrogim generally grown in chutz la’aretz are Yanover and Moroccan. There are also a few pardeisim that have regrown a variety of esrogim in chutz laaretz. Yanover esrogim come from the city of Genoa, Italy. They are the preferred esrog for many Yidden, especially for those from specific Chasidic groups, and there is a big market for them every year, not just during Shemittah.
Moroccan esrogim have also been popular for many years and are known to be meyuchasim. In fact, it is well-known that the Brisker Rov used a Moroccan as one of his esrogim.
Two Shemtitah cycles ago, a project was initiated to plant and cultivate Chazon Ish and other esrogim meyuchosim in Morocco. These are perfect for those who specifically want an esrog with the Chazon Ish yichus and want an esrog that grows in chutz la’aretz for the Shemittah year.
Q: Do they look the same as the Chazon Ish esrogim from Eretz Yisroel?
A: The Chazon Ish esrog has the distinctive and familiar “Chazon Ish” look and feel no matter where it is replanted! That being said, every Chazon Ish esrog can look different based on the climate they grow in. Even the Chazon Ish esrogim that grow in different pardesim in Eretz Yisroel look slightly different from each other. In the past, we have found that the Chazon Ish esrogim that grow in Morocco have beautiful coloring and shape. One interesting thing we saw during the last cycle is that the pitom on Chazon Ish esrogim grown in Morocco stayed longer than those of their Israeli counterparts (ED- early reports from Morocco indicate few if any pittoms on the chazon ish esrogim this year).
Q: Which esrogim will Esrog Shopper be selling this year?
A: We will sell beautiful Chazon Ish and Braverman esrogim from Morocco, as well as our regular crop of Moroccan and Yanover esrogim.
Taimani esrogim have also been replanted in Morocco. While Taimani esrogim originate in Yemen, they have been grown in Eretz Yisroel for many years. Our pardeisim took them from Eretz Yisroel and planted them in Morocco, and they also produced an excellent crop.
Q: What about lulavim and hadassim? How does Shemittah affect those?
A: The consensus of almost all Gedolei Haposkim is that lulavim have no kedushas sheviis because they are not a fruit. Therefore, the market for lulavim is the same as every year, and we will have top-quality schoirah from Eretz Yisroel. Additionally, we carry a Spanish variety of lulov.
The vast majority of Poskim hold that hadassim also have no kedushas sheviis and we will be selling hadassim from Eretz Yisroel as part of our package. There is a minority opinion that hadassim have kedushas sheviis. For those who want to be machmir like that opinion, we will also carry hadassim from Morocco.
Q: So many people will be looking to get their esrogim from Morocco this year. Is there enough stock to go around?
A: Yes. There is definitely enough stock. Keep in mind, though, that there may not be as many perfectly nice ones as usual. Those who want a Chazon Ish esrog during a Shemittah year may have to put up with a couple more bletelach than they are used to.
We offer three sets of Arbah Minim, which we level as Platinum, Silver and Gold. Because of the demand and more limited supply, every Chazon Ish and taymani esrog this year is really a premium esrog and may only be offered as part of the higher-level sets. I would suggest ordering a bit early this year to beat the rush.
People may not realize that in a regular year, not every esrog is harvested. Many are left on the trees. This year, to meet the demand for esrogim from chutz la’aretz, more esrogim will be picked from the trees in Morocco and less will be left on the branches.
The regular Moroccan and Yanover esrogim will be sold on all three levels and will be as high-quality as every year. If someone wants the cleanliness he is used to, he might be better off going with one of these options this year. If you specifically want the yichus of a Chazon Ish esrog, then you should go for that. I do know that some people who always use Chazon Ish esrogim are planning on purchasing a Moroccan/Yanover this year.
Q: What about chinuch sets? Will those be sold this year?
A: Yes. We will have plenty of chinuch sets. We are bringing back our popular Bachurim sets as well.
Q: I’m sure many esrog dealers are trying to get a hold of good Chazon Ish esrogim from Morocco. How did you manage to get your hands on so many?
A: We are lucky enough to work with a veteran supplier, Rabbi Elazar Hamel, who has been involved in the world of Arbah Minim for many years and has forged relationships with the top names in the field. He personally travels to Morocco to pick out esrogim for us. Rabbi Hamel has vast insider knowledge of the esrog market, and of the Moroccan pardesim in particular, and can get us the most meyuchas and nicest esrogim from that country. Not all orchards there are the same. Some are more meyuchas and have a better hechsher than others. Our esrogim have top notch hechsherim.
Q: How did Rabbi Hamel make connections in Morocco if he usually works with the pardesim in Eretz Yisroel?
A: You have to realize that Shemittah didn’t just sneak up on us. We have been preparing for it for seven years, and so has Rabbi Hamel. Many of the people he deals with from Eretz Yisroel are also involved with the Moroccan pardesim, so he has a relationship with them. Over the years, he has also developed relationships with Moroccan suppliers and others in the industry who help him make his way around the country and find the best esrogim. We are very fortunate to be working with him.
Q: Will Esrog Shopper be offering anything else different this year than previous years?
A: For the first time this year, we will offer lulavim with “kaira”. These lulavim are popular with many Sefardim, and there was a popular demand for them. We always listen to our customers, so we brought them in this year.
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Our updated website and ordering system for Sukkos 5783 (2022) is enhanced for the ultimate easy daled minim shopping experience. We look forward to servicing you.
– The Esrog Shopper Team