The four grades

An etrog mashgiah must have a good eye and considerable knowledge for this unusual and technical job.

October 16, 2005 14:28
1 minute read.

4grades298. (photo credit: Isranet)


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An etrog mashgiah must have a good eye and considerable knowledge for this unusual and technical job. I have seen some who wear loops of the kind jewelers use to inspect diamonds. A good mashgiah spends several minutes examining one fruit. He must also grade his charges, assigning each one an alef, a beit, a gimel, or a dalet, the first four letters of the Hebrew alphabet. These qualities go into different boxes and they sell for very different prices. Sometimes we find a truly exquisite etrog that will grace the table of a hassidic rebbe. The perfection of form such an etrog displays makes it rare. In addition to their four grades, etrogim come in four shapes: rocket, which is long and has a round nose; Coke-bottle etrogim which narrow in the middle; lemon-shaped and Lubavitch. The Lubavitch style is the form the late Lubavitcher Rebbe chose for his etrog, and therefore his thousands of followers want the same shape for theirs. Satmar Hassidim usually want lemon-shaped etrogim, because their late leader, Reb Yoilish, preferred that shape. Other non-hassidic Jews make their choices according to what suits their tastes. If we are selling etrogim to a merchant, he makes the final choice according to his market. We also pack and ship etrogim to send to America, Israel and Europe by airplane, where they are distributed to buyers, as well as to individual Jews who buy from us.

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