The Forward: “This Sukkot, Ditch Your Etrog and Lulav in Favor of Apples and Maple Leaves”


By CB Frommer, reposted from last year

The anti-religious, left-leaning Forward has done it again, throwing tradition to the wind for “progressiveness” and “open-mindedness.”

The latest is an opinion piece by Ms. Jordie Gerson, who, the newspaper says, works “as a full-time rabbi for Adventure Rabbi, in Boulder, Colorado.” She is a public speaker and a writer with a blog at The Huffington Post.

Gerson begins by stating that “With its agricultural roots and its dictum to live close to the earth, Sukkot is the sine qua non of Jewish environmentalism. Camp out under the stars in what is essentially a lean-to, eat all your meals in it, invite friends over for homemade food and singing, and hang seasonally appropriate produce from its rafters? It’s almost as if the Torah anticipated patchouli-scented, croc-wearing hippie Jews.”

Yep, you read that right. No typos there. It’s as if “the Torah anticipated patchouli-scented, croc-wearing hippie Jews.”

Isn’t that what you think of as you prepare for Sukkos? Oh, you don’t?

Well, Gerson’s just getting started.

She continues: “And yet, each year, we produce a massive carbon footprint in the lead-up to Sukkot’s celebration of abundance and its message to live more sustainably and more in concert with the seasons. I’m talking about the lulav and etrog — the palm frond, myrtle, willow and citron that we Jews are commanded to bless during the holiday. As compost friendly as they may be (and technically, according to Jewish law, you’re not allowed to compost them, you have to burn them), they are flown in from Israel and shipped en masse to American Jewish communities that couldn’t grow a palm tree or an etrog grove if they tried. (I’m looking at you, Chicago, New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Denver and everywhere with a winter).”

Gerson says that adding to the “absurdity of the transnational schlep” is the cost of lulavim and esrogim. “An etrog with a really nice pitom (the withered stub of the etrog that once connected the fruit to the tree) can run you upward of $100, $200 or even $300,” she says.

She goes on to say that “the requirement of the four species made a great deal of sense in their original geographical and agricultural context. It doesn’t anymore.”

But what luck, says Gerson. We’re smack in the middle of the harvest season here in North America.

“We have maple and oak and aspen leaves (at least in Colorado, where I am); we have squash, apples and pumpkins in abundance. So why are we still insisting on importing astronomically expensive produce and leaves from the Middle East rather than picking an apple off our trees, using maple and oak branches from our own yards, and shaking them the same way we do with the lulav and etrog?”

She says that she’s all for lulavim and esrogim “in the right context.” She loves “the sound of the lulav and the smell of the etrog — and the nostalgia that both evoke — as much as anyone. So if you live in Southern California or Arizona or Florida, or anywhere where palm trees and citrus fruit grow with abandon, be a crafty Jew and make your own local, sustainable lulav (and even etrog, if you have the foresight to have, or live in proximity to, an etrog tree; if not, a lemon will suffice and will smell just as good).”

Gerson then provides a religious reason for her absurd proposal: “There’s a Jewish value underlying the adaptation I’m proposing. It’s the value of ba’al tashchit, refraining from needless waste or destruction. It’s part of an ancient and sacred environmental ethic teaching us that when at war, one is not allowed to cut down the fruit trees of the land one is besieging. How much more so, the rabbis of the Babylonian Talmud added, we should not needlessly destroy or waste other natural resources. In the Sifrei (a Jewish legal midrash), Rabbi Yishmael even writes that if the Torah tells us not to destroy fruit trees, then we should be even more careful about destroying the fruit of those trees — the concrete benefit they bring us.”

There you have it. Gerson knows better than Chazal, than generations of Jews since time immemorial, than basically anyone else.

This Sukkos, she’ll be “ditching” her esrog and lulav in favor of apples and maple leaves.

Klal Yisroel, on the other hand, will remain with the precious Daled Minim, as the Torah instructs and as our nation has conducted itself for generations.



  1. Baal Tashchit? For performing a mitzvah? I love it when people try to sound smart and throw around hlachic terms without a clue to what it means. Maybe she should stop using toilet paper and disposable womens care products first.

    So silly. Thanks Matzav! Really adds to the hemshech of purim and yom kippur!
    Chag Sameach.

  2. The good news is that several months ago the left wing anti religious and anti Trump rag known as the forwards stopped printing their English weekly newspaper. I guess no one seems to buy it. They are like trapped rats lashing out as they become extinct. Chareidim are booming and we are the future. The forwards years ago had their headquarters in lower east side and served lobsters and milk on Yom Kippur. Rabbi Avigdor Miller mentioned this a number of times. Today they are history.

  3. Gifted nice novice jews. They want reform everything. Her bad idea is shame. Maybe the gold she uses can be replaced with tree branches too. One would hate to hear the costs of mining. Bet on her just facing boss and future human wrong. All for the Boss. It works.

  4. These people probably also efrain from using tefilin or mezuzos, because an animal needed to be “killed” in order to get the parchment and leather…

  5. israelreader

    what tfilin..they diont believe in torah altogether, dont even understand what she wants, the wholw torah is someones writing so dont do anything , accoerding to these movements

    • She acknowledges “commandments”:
      I’m talking about the lulav and etrog — the palm frond, myrtle, willow and citron that we Jews are *commanded* to bless during the holiday.

  6. why does matzav bring opinions of non believers to us.
    would matzav print a ‘torah’ discussion by pope paul?
    these heretics mock the whole torah. do they observe tahatah mispacha, kashruth etc etc…these movements have no semblace of bnei yisroel

  7. And she doesn’t even state her facts right!
    The pitom is bot the stem from where thw esrog grows – the ukatz is!
    So too is all her ideology: fraught with myth, deceit and misstatements . May these עבריינים be זוכה to do תשובה.

    • You are right. There will be no prank-esrog in an orthodox home.

      But think Torah and Hashem. We must grow in a world where always our traditions are attacked and we will be subject to a growing population of peace-culturists, environmentalists, right wing hate envy and left wing unorthodox hate.

      We must discuss and defend Torah values. This story is very real to know.

      Did you read that there are more jewish family experiences discussing that we no longer need or should want even circumcision? A Torah threat. It was in Haaretz and promoted last week.

      Careful to criticize the story content. We must have fun online, fun in Torah and always know why the secular hate community wants us to never have a feeling about jewish life.

      Its that bad.

  8. Well there are millions of Jews going lost. And we religious Jews need to step in and save their youth. Unfortunately we ourselves are lacking the passion needed to be real lebedig proud yidden. Too many young couple are busy with gashmiyos. Yes you have idealist in every community. But we are still the sleeping giant. We must fight the growth of atheism all around us. Outvote every liberal pro toeiva politician. Demand that one billion dollars going from American aid to israel of the theee billion go for Yeshiva’s. after all it’s we orthodox that elect pro israel politicians. We need to get out and infiltrate all reform and conservative temple and take over their youth. Everyone knows one or more secular jewish families be it their neighbor or doctor or co worker and invite them for a shabbos meal. Invite them to an outreach program be it Chabad,Aish,torah anytime internet site,BJX, and dozens of other such venues. Buy them jewish books and hook them up with partners in Torah. Today is still possible for Kiruv but very soon the vast majority of the five million America secular Jews will be intermarried and drift away. College is where they go lost. They fall in love with the wrong people. Maybe that’s why the radical moslems flooding the colleges is a positive thing. It wakes up the jewish assimilated youth. Many are scared. Just as what happpen in the 1960s in major american cities where public schools became dangerous for Jews and thus jewish day schools were started. Let’s wake up and start being real Jews.

    • That 3 billion is military aid. You think evangelical voters are gonna support military aid being redirected to Yeshivas. The press would have a field day. “American tax dollars spent on jewish schools abroad!”

  9. You know, with the ultra left liberals everything really depends how you “feel”. If your’e a gentile but “feel” like a jew you can decide your’e a jew. If your’e a man but “feel” like a woman you can decide you want to be a woman. So the apple could really just decide it “feels” like an esrog and then it can actually be one.


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