by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
I decided to buy a Lulav and Etrog this year for Sukkot but it cost an absolute fortune. Apparently the expensive part is the Etrog which is imported and especially grown. But to me it looks like a lemon which I can get from the fruit shop for $1.75. Don't you think a $100 is a little over the top?
The Etrog looks and even smells like a lemon. But in truth it is a very special fruit that is different from any other. There are many things that make the Etrog unique. Here is one of them.
The Torah describes an Etrog as a species that "lives on the tree through all of the seasons." Some fruits are seasonal and can only grow at certain times. The Etrog is a fruit that not only tolerates the various seasons, but actually continues to develop and becomes larger with each one. (We pick them early, but they actually grow to the size of a watermelon).
We use the Etrog on Sukkot which comes right after Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We have just reflected on the past year, hopefully made some changes and are filled with inspiration for a new and great year of growth and blessing.
But in our fresh and inspired state we are also aware that the coming year will bring a variety of circumstances. Just as the year will have four seasons, so too our experiences will vary. We will have ups and downs, easier moments and some (hopefully very few) challenging moments. There will be some people that are easy to relate to and others that will be more difficult. We will wake up some mornings filled with enthusiasm and others struggling to find motivation.
But, just like the Etrog, we will not just survive but grow from the diversity of experience. We will learn to use every situation as an opportunity to grow and improve. When we lack motivation we will use the moment to discover a deeper inner strength. Difficult people will allow us to learn better and more creative strategies for healthy relationships. Every circumstance will bring greater meaning and beauty to the New Year. We will grow and develop, not despite the different seasons but because of them.
The Etrog may be expensive, but its lesson is priceless.