Motza'ei Shabbath Hol HaMo'ed Sukkoth 5772
For the last several years, I have been able to buy the Arba'ath HaMinim (four species) for Sukkoth for 100 sheqqels of less. This goal is not to be cheap, nor to cheapen the holiday (חו"ח). Rather it is to keep this particular misswah in perspective.
I do not need to buy 1,000 sheqqel ethrog, even if I had 1,000 extra sheqqels to throw around.
Just think of how many Jews could be fed for 1,000 sheqqels, for a Shabbath or holiday meal or for a regular meal.
Even for the past few years, my goal has been to stay with the 100 sheqqel mark.
Rabbi Ya'aqov (ben R' Ovadiah) Yosef recommends shopping for Arba'ath HaMinim the morning before Sukkoth, when the prices come down to "reasonable." I sometimes follow this advice, but prefer the convenience of shopping the night before, instead of running around more than necessary.
Like most years, I went to the Bukharim Quarter, tucked between the Beis Yisroel and Shmu'el HaNavi neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Most of my friends, in the know, buy there, and I always bump into people I know. I like the atmosphere, the mixed Haredi, non-Haredi, Ashkenazi, Sefardi, Yemenite crowd, and well as the wide selection of Yemenite ethrogim. I prefer , as it is much less likely that they are the products of mixing with lemon genes. (I await your defensive comments.)
This year, I was warned in advance that when I went, it would be very crowded.
When I arrived, I did not find it to be terribly crowded, not anymore that last year. I certainly did not have any problems maneuvering through the crowds.
I made my way through the neighborhood streets, now lined with vendors, who were hocking Sukkoth decorations, electrical gear, as well as Arba'ath HaMinim.
Another one of my customs is to get in and out, as quickly as I can. I am one of those people who "doesn't do crowds." I operate the same way when shopping at the Shuq in Mahaneh Yehudah, in and out as quickly as I can.
I entered the main shuq. The men were more concentrated, but still negotiable.
This year, one of the first stalls attracted me. It had some beautiful etrogim at a reasonable price. It also had everything else I needed, at reasonable prices. More importantly, the young man in charge knew what he was doing, and did so efficiently.
I kept walking through the stalls, and decided to take my chances, by buying a reasonably priced ethrog in a sealed box. I have always done well with sealed boxes, against the warnings of others. I then returned to that first stall, where I had seen everything else I needed.
I found an awesome lulav out of box not terribly good ones, which even received unsolicited compliments, as I made my way out of the Arba'ath HaMinim shuq. I guess that being nice and patient really does go a long way.
My final total was 120 sheqqels. That's about $32.80. How much did you shell out in Flatbush, trying to outdo your neighbors? Was it worth it?
So, the only question left is, how did buying an ethrog in a sealed box work out for me.
You be the judge.