Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Why an Esrog?

Do we know how we, as a people, settled on the esrog as the proper fruit for fulfilling the command found in Leviticus 23:40?

The verse merely tells us to take the foliage of a goodly (or majestic, or gorgeous) tree. No particular tree is specified. And it might be argued that during the time of Nehemiah the people took olive boughs instead. [Nehemiah 8:15] So how did we agree on the esrog?

And if you think the answer is "The esrog was identified as the pri etz hadar in the Oral Torah received at Sinai" let me remind you that the Oral Torah is several different categories of things:

1) halachot le-Moshe mi-sinai
2) Dibre Ḳabbalah which are laws established by the prophets
3) Dibre Sofrim which are laws created by the scribes
4) midrash halacha
5) Takanot
6) gezayrot
7) hilchot Medina

Of this list only #1 and #4 are from Sinai (and rishonim argue about #4)

The decision to use an esrog as the pri etz hadar seems to be either #3 or #5 which means it's perfectly consistent to say that at first many fruits were used AND the choice of an esrog is Oral Law.

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