When We Obsess Over Chumros, Do We Forget About the Real Thing?

hero image
01 Dec 2016
Torah in the City
Israeli Chief Rabbi David Lau offered a powerful message about the importance of prioritizing in life, in conversation with South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein:
A Jew from Jerusalem once told me that in 1976, as a young yeshiva student, he knew there was a very important posek in Jerusalem who is the expert on etrogim, and who can determine whether your etrog for Sukkot is pretty and fancy enough. His name was Rav Shalom Eisen. The yeshiva student came to him — a kollel student with a really fancy, expensive etrog. He knew it was a beautiful etrog, but he wanted Rav Shalom Eisen to also say it’s beautiful, so that he could tell everybody: Rav Shalom said it is a fine etrog.
He arrived there with the etrog, smiling, his whole face beaming, and shows him the etrog. He looked at the etrog, examined it from every direction, looked at him and said:
Avrech, for you, this etrog is invalid.”
The student looked at him and said: “How is that possible? Just for me? Either it’s kosher or it’s invalid.”
Then the rabbi told the student: “Avrech, how much did this etrog cost you?”
He said: “100 lirot.” That’s a lot.
“How much is your monthly stipend that you get from your kollel?”
“300 lirot a month.’
“A third of your stipend you spent on a mitzvah? That’s alright, the Gemara allows it, but it’s only ‘hidur shel hidur’. On the other hand, at home you have a wife and children. And your mitzvah on the holiday is to make your wife and children happy. Avrech, have you bought a garment for your wife? Have you bought a game for your kids for the holiday? Go and return this etrog, buy a nice and fancy etrog for 30 lirot, and with the 70 lirot you will have, buy a nice garment or a piece of jewelry for your wife and a game for your children, for this is the Torah’s mitzvah, to  make your family happy, and this is hidur shel hidur.”
Watch the full video here or below, and come hear Rabbi David Lau in person weigh in on the conversion debate in Israel, on January 15 at the OU’s Torah in the City event.
Check out the full programme at .