Monday, 18 December 2017
  • NY Candle Lighting: 4:10pm
  • |
  • Parasha -Miketz
  • |
  • Havdalah 5:15 pm, Rabbenu Tam 5:24 pm
Welcome to -- CHAZAQ has inspired THOUSANDS of people since 2006! Join our Efforts and Help Build a Stronger Future!


Popular searches:


Support Chazaq's Yeshiva Placement Program


Support CHAZAQ


CHAZAQ Articles

A Grafted Esrog

By R’ Boruch Yonah Lipton  

Although the joyous holiday of Sukkoth has recently passed, I nevertheless felt we could all use a little insight into one of the most beautiful mitzvot (commandments) of the year. Every year, as the holiday approaches, Jews search for an ethrog with which to perform the mitzvah of the arba minim. The acharonim tell us that an  ethrog may not be murkav: grafted.  In grafting, part of a plant bearing desired fruit (e.g., a branch from a cultivated  ethrog tree) is attached to another, more hearty and disease-resistant species (e.g., a wild lemon tree). One reason given for the prohibition of using a grafted ethrog is that grafting an ethrog branch onto a lemon tree alters the identity of the ethrogim, and the resulting fruits are not considered ethrogim. Instead, they are ethrog - lemon hybrids. According to the principles of genetics and botany, however, grafting does not change the characteristics of a fruit. Botanical science says that while a host tree delivers minerals and water to a grafted branch, the genetic makeup of both the tree and the branch remains unchanged. So how can we explain the idea that a grafted ethrog is actually hybridized with a lemon?

In an article entitled, "Etrog Ha-murkav – The Grafted Etrog," which is based on a shiur by Harav Yehuda Amital, adapted by Yitzchak Ben-David, and translated by David Silverberg, the author discusses a Yerushalmi on the mishna in Kilayim 1:7.  The Yerushalmi states that a palm tree hosting a grafted olive branch will have a sweetening effect on the olives produced by the branch. It thus seems that the Yerushalmi holds that a host tree indeed changes the identity of a grafted branch. The author of the article notes that the conclusion of the Yerushalmi runs counter to the principles of botany. He therefore suggests a different reading of the Yerushalmi.

When two species are brought into close proximity, the chances are increased that there will be cross-pollination between the species. Cross-pollination between species occurs when pollen, which bears the male gamete, merges with a female gamete from a different species. The resulting seed will develop into a hybrid of the two species. When grafting occurs, two species are brought into close proximity, and the chances are increased that there will be cross-pollination between them. The author thus suggests that when the Yerushalmi states that a host palm tree will have a sweetening effect on a grafted olive branch, the hybridization results not from the grafting process itself. Rather, hybridization results from the cross-pollination made possible by the physical proximity into which grafting brought the species. 

So this may explain one reason a grafted ethrog is not permitted for use in the mitzvah of arba minim. Grafting itself does not alter the identity of an ethrog. But grafting does bring the ethrog in close proximity with lemons, and cross-pollination may result, producing ethrog - lemon hybrids.




Boruch Yonah Lipton is the author of The Song at the Sea According to Rashi and The Sin of the Golden Calf According to Rashi, both available by contacting the author at


Submit your comment

*One Line Summary:

*-required filds


Support CHAZAQ