The Facebook page of the office of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tsfat and member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, this week condemned the purchasing of lulavim (palms) that were bought from growers in the Gaza Strip.
Calling it a mitzvah which is fulfilled through a transgression – comparable to setting aside a portion of challah dough that was made from stolen wheat (Bav. Baba Kama 94a), or using a stolen lulav to fulfill the mitzvah of acquiring the Four Species on Sukkot (Bav. Sukkah 30a) – Rabbi Eliahu called on all the rabbis not to give a kashrut certification to the lulavim originating in Gaza.
“There are enough lulavim originating in Israel, and it is our duty to help the Israeli farmers and not the Gazan farmers, who themselves or their brothers or sons burn the fields of Jewish farmers in the south,” the Rabbi’s office stated.
“Those who pay for a lulav from Gaza pay money to the Gazans. Every shekel you weigh into the hands of the Jewish vendor is partly paid to these wicked people. It is forbidden to buy them from a thread to the strap of a sandal.
“It is forbidden to buy from people who fire missiles and rockets at Sderot, Ashkelon or Be’er Sheva. It is forbidden to buy from those digging tunnels intended to abduct soldiers or harm kindergartens.
“The whole idea of the Four Species revolves around brotherhood and partnership among all the different types of Jews. Therefore we divide the four species and attach the etrog to the lulav and the myrtle and the willow.
“We cannot fulfill the mitzvah of the lulav by ignoring our brethren in the south.
“It is forbidden to provide a livelihood to the villains of Gaza at the expense of the farmers who suffer from their persecution.
“It’s a small effort – do it especially ahead of the holiday of Sukkot.”
According to Israel Hayom, the Israeli government has issued permits to purchase 20,000 lulavim from Gaza, or 2.5% of the total number of lulavim sold in Israel. This is a significant number of lulavim, which will reach many Israeli homes without the buyers’ knowledge, since there is no notification at the vending stalls marking where the lulav came from.
Israel’s agriculture ministry reported some 800,000 lulavim being sold this year, up from 700,000 in 5778.