Thursday, October 01, 2009

No such thing as coincidence!


Here's David* who is really happy to be holding today's amazing find - his Etrog with a gartel! The gartel is the "waistline" in the middle of the etrog giving it that hourglass figure. The term gartel comes from the Yiddish and means 'belt'. Hassidim wear a black gartel over their long jackets to signify the separation of their upper body where the heart and mind are and the lower body where the more animalistic functions reside.
 So when Hasidim look for an especially beautiful (mehudar) etrog they look for one with a gartel. They also had a tradition that the etrog with the gartel is reliably held to fulfill the requirement of growing on a tree that was not grafted. (Citrus trees like oranges are usually grafted to lemon trees because they are stronger.)

Now Hasidim and this tradition of finding the gloriously beautiful etrog with a waist have been around for about 350 years (give or take) but over the last few decades there have been some interesting archaeological finds. One of them was a picture on a mosaic floor in Hamat Gader ( southern Ramat Hagolan) dated around 230 CE or the time of the mishna. As you can see from this sketch (on the right) the etrog has a gartel! This shows that the etrog that our sages were talking about had a gartel.

Another mosaic found in the northern Negev and dated to the 6th century CE (the time of the gemara) shows two etrogim both with gartels.
It seems that there is even some scientific basis for the theory that the viroids which cause the gartel help prove that this species of etrog is genetically pure. See the Wikipedia here.

Happy Succot Everyone !!!!!

*A big thank you to David for helping with the background for this post!

5 comments:

Frugal Dougal said...

Brilliant - what an interesting post!

Anonymous said...

fascinating history-and glad to see R' David is sharing his knowledge on the net ! (in addition to mailJewish and Hirhurim :-))
Gmar tov to all
Bro

Leora said...

Wow, that was quite a post. An etrog with a gartel, and archaeological finds, too. Thank you, David! I had no idea that's why hassidim wear a gartel.

muse said...

Succot is the holiday we used to share. Risa you helped us with our first succah and that's when we met David.

fut coins said...

Succot may be the vacation all of us accustomed to reveal. Risa a person assisted all of us with this very first succah and that is whenever we fulfilled Donald.


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