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Shabbat Parashat Bamidbar 5781

Igrot Hareaya Letters of Rav Kook: Standing behind Etrog Certification

# 23

Date and Place 13 Elul 5665 (1905), the holy city of Yafo


Recipient: Rabbi Yehuda Leib Koretz, neiro yair (may his candle give light)

: May you have peace and the blessing of years. 

: I have received your precious letter. Regarding that which you enquired about the certification I gave for etrogim in the agricultural settlements of our brothers, the Sons of Israel, here in the Holy Land, may it be built firmly, your honor should know that the orchards upon which I gave my certification were checked according to the laws of the Torah, and there is no concern at all that they were grafted. The matter is handed over, under my supervision, with Hashem’s help, to be handled by a Torah scholar who is a noteworthy fearer of G-d, to ensure that there will not be any problems, Heaven forbid. All will be done based on the laws of our holy Torah with the most complete care taken. 

None of the aspersions heard around the world about etrogim from Israel apply to etrogim to which I have attached my certification. If only the nation of Hashem, in all of the places of inhabitance, would be careful to use etrogim for the fulfillment of the mitzva specifically from the agricultural settlements of our brothers from the Desired Land. Then it would turn out that everything, with Hashem’s help, would be the most supervised and of the highest quality.

The whole confusion comes from the fact that people are not at all being careful to buy specifically from the orchards of our farmers. Rather, they buy from stocks that the merchants bought from the Arabs, which have no supervision. Large amounts of our brethren’s money are going to the Arab orchard owners, as opposed to going to brothers who are toiling with the sweat of their brows to work our holy land.

Therefore, it is very fitting to strengthen the hands of the workers to broaden the scope of etrog orchards in the hands of our brothers, so that the etrogim will truly be pri etz hadar (the term the Torah uses for the etrog – Vayikra 23:40), without any concern that there could be grafted etrogim in the orchard. From this, a crown of salvation will grow for the benefit of the Jewish settlement of our Holy Land. Then, the merchants will also buy from our brothers and their supervised orchards, and everyone will be receiving clearly valid etrogim. This will bring honor and splendor for our Desired Land and enable the fulfillment of this dear, beloved mitzva in the best, most suitable manner, so that we can be happy before Hashem, our G-d.

Sign Off
: I will sign off with a blessing of all good things, as my heart and spirit desire, and bless you that you should have a ketiva vachatima tova, Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook.

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