By COLlive reporter
A Chabad Rabbi from Israel has instructed his community not to spend their hard-earned money on the pricey Yanover esrogim for Sukkos this year.
Rabbi Zalman Yaroslavsky notified Lubavitchers in the city of Elad that his shul is purchasing a $200 esrog that originated from Italy and that there is no need for them to purchase their own.
Chabad custom is to prefer an esrog grown in the sun-baked region of Calabria in southwest Italy. Lubavitch esrogim murchants have traveled there since the 1950s to oversee the harvest.
But a highly unusual winter frost in January 2017 brought 4 days of below-zero weather to the region, Chabad.org reported. It destroyed 80 percent of the citron trees, causing the worst citron crisis in the area in the last half-century.
Partially damaged trees have been trimmed down to their stumps, while other trees have been destroyed completely and must be replaced. It takes about 3 years for a newly-planted citron root branch to grow into a tree and yield its first esrogim.
With fewer Yanover/Calabria esrogim available –and those that are of high-priced and of poorer quality– Rabbi Yaroslavsky asked each family in his community to pitch in $7 to purchase the communal esrog.
Tzfas Shliach Rabbi Yosef Chitrik recently wrote in the Kfar Chabad magazine, “I suggest to anyone who thought of purchasing a Calabria esrog for a high price, to invest the money in tzedaka instead.”