A True Gift
It was very common during medieval times for members of the community to contribute a small amount of money to a fund in order to jointly own one esrog. In those times, esrogim were difficult to find and would often cost a small fortune. Tosafot even records that “The community has a custom, to buy an esrog in partnership – and we instruct them that each individual should give their portion as a gift on condition that it be returned…” (Tosafot, Sukkah 41b).
However, it is important to note that partial ownership is not sufficient to do the mitzvah properly.
On the first day of Sukkot, a person must use a set of Arba’as HaMinim that belongs to them. This is derived from the passuk:
“V’Lakachtem LA’CHEM B’yom Harishon - And you shall take for yourself on the first day…” (Vayikra 23:40)
Our rabbis teach that “Lachem - for yourself” implies “MiShelechem - belonging to you”. Therefore, a person may not use a borrowed set to fulfil his obligation. Some rabbanim are also of the opinion that one must own their own Arba’as HaMinim on the second day as well. If someone doesn’t own a set, they must acquire it from their friend as a gift (with a stipulation that they return it).
Thus, in communities who jointly owned their lulav and esrog set, when it came time for each individual to shake the four species, everyone else had to “gift” their share of the esrog temporarily.
In our own time, it also isn’t always obvious to people with more resources how difficult it can be for the people with fewer resources to participate in the mitzvos we can often take for granted.
B&H Sukkot was started with the goal of making the mitzvos of Sukkot accessible to as many Jews as possible by reducing the price but not the quality thus enabling the community to fulfil the mitzvah of Arba’as HaMinim with beautiful, high quality sets.
Inspired by the theme of Tzedakah that resonates throughout the festival, B&H Sukkot has partnered with Jewish House (Sydney), Melbourne Jewish Charity Fund and Yad Eliezer (Israel) to offer a unique opportunity for the community to donate a set of Arba'as HaMinim or money to assist those in-need this Yom Tov.
Whether you call it an etrog or esrog, B&H Sukkot wishes everyone in the community to be inscribed in the book of life for a happy, healthy and blessed year, a year of giving and solidarity.
To donate a set (or money towards a set) for someone in-need please click here.