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==General laws==
[[Image:EtrogChotam.png|200px|right]]
# It is important to buy an etrog that has a reliable hechsher (certification that it is not grafted) in order to be sure that is not grafted. <ref>The Rama (Responsa 226) writes that an etrog that is the product of an etrog tree grafted with a lemon tree is invalid because it no longer qualifies as an etrog. The Levush (649:4) writes likewise but for a different reason. He asserts that a grafted etrog is invalid since it was created in violation of kilayim (grafting trees of different species) even if a non-Jew did it. The Shevut Yaakov (1:36) disagrees with the Levush’s reasoning, since we hold that non-Jews are not obligated in the laws of kilayim. The Shevut Yaakov quotes a story in which the Shach permitted making a bracha upon a grafted etrog, but he adds that the Shach later retracted. In sum, almost all poskim consider a grafted etrog to be invalid, including the Magen Avraham (648:23), Taz (648:3), and Chazon Ovadia (p. 223). Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky (“The [http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/776494/Rabbi_Zvi_Sobolofsky/The_Laws_of_the_Daled_Minim The Laws of the Daled Minim,]” min. 3) advised getting an etrog with a reliable hechsher in order to make sure that it is not grafted. </ref>
# An etrog must be at least the size of an egg. <ref> See Mishna ([[Sukkah]] 34b), Rambam (7:8), and Shulchan Aruch (648:22). </ref> If the etrog is longer than an egg but not as wide as an egg, but its total volume is more than that of an egg, it is still kosher. <ref> Chazon Ovadia [[Sukkot]] pg. 275, Yalkut Yosef Moadim pg. 154 </ref>
# If the pitom falls off or the stem on the bottom of the etrog is completely removed, the etrog is invalid. <ref> The Mishna (34b) establishes that if the pitom fell off an etrog, the etrog is invalid, but if the oketz fell off, it is valid. The Gemara (35b) explains that the pitom is the rod-like protrusion (“buchanto”). Rashi (s.v. Tani) cites a dispute between his teachers about how to explain what the pitom and oketz are. Rabbeinu Yaakov explained pitom as the protrusion on top of the etrog and the oketz as the thick stem on the bottom. Rabbeinu Yitzchak, however, explained that oketz refers to the outer part of the thick stem on the bottom, while pitom refers to the inner part of that stem, meaning that the etrog would be invalid only if the stem on the bottom is totally removed, even the part that penetrates the etrog. Rashi sides with Rabbeinu Yaakov.
* What is the chotam? Rashi (35b s.v. Ubechotmo) explains that the line at which the etrog begins to slope inwards is the chotam. See Halachos of the Four Minim (p. 10) for a diagram. The Rosh explains that the Rif holds that the chotam is the entire slope up to its pitom. The Beit Yosef (648:12) writes that the minhag was to be strict for both Rashi and the Rif. The Beiur Halacha (648 s.v. Mimakom) explains that the Rif, and by implication Shulchan Aruch, agree that the pitom itself is included in the chotam.
* The Pituchei Arbaat HaMinim (p. 266-7) discusses black dots that are caused by bug sprays that farmers use. He suggests two reasons to be lenient. First, he argues (based on the Terumat Hadeshen responsa 99) that since these black dots are part of the normal appearance of the etrog, they do not present a problem. Furthermore, the black dots are external to the etrog. Nonetheless, he concludes that one should be strict unless the dot can be removed. Similarly, Rav Dovid Miller (“Hilchot Arba Minim”) and Halachos of the Four Species (p. 22) say that a black dot on the upper part of the etrog invalidates it.
* Rabbi Zvi Sobolovsky ({{ibid}}[http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/776494/Rabbi_Zvi_Sobolofsky/The_Laws_of_the_Daled_Minim The Laws of the Daled Minim]. min 4-5), however, explained that most of the etrogim we have do not have any issue with discoloration; the little black dots are just specks of dirt. Similarly, Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg ([http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/782108/Rabbi_Eliakim_Koenigsberg/A_Practical_Guide_to_Purchasing_Daled_Minim “A Practical Guide to Purchasing Daled Minim,” Minim”] min. 32-3) quotes the Chaim Ubracha (p. 33 note 87), who says that black dots invalidate the etrog only if they develop because of rotting, which is not usually the case. Mishna Brurah (648:46) writes that a discoloration disqualifies an etrog only if it is noticeable upon a normal glance without staring at it carefully. </ref>
# An etrog that is completely green is invalid. If, however, if it started to become yellow, it is valid. <ref> The Mishna (34b) cites Rabbi Yehuda’s view that an etrog that is as green as grass is invalid. The Rosh (3:21) cites Tosfot’s assertion that an etrog that is green but will turn yellow over time is valid, since it must be a complete fruit in order for it to turn yellow. Shulchan Aruch (648:21) codifies this view. Mishna Brurah (648:65) writes that the Achronim decided that one should not rely on the fact that the etrog might potentially turn yellow later on unless it has begun to start doing so. Chazon Ovadia (p. 256) agrees. Rabbi Hershel Schachter (“The Halachos of the Daled Minim,” min. 33-5) cited the Mishkenot Yaakov’s opinion that the etrog is invalid even if it started to yellow.</ref>
# See note for a list of other ideal qualities. Besides for the qualities that Chazal specified, the niceness of an etrog includes its subjective beauty. <ref> Bumpy: Rama (Responsa 126) writes that the differences between a grafted etrog and a real etrog include: 1)A real one is bumpy, while a grafted one is smooth. 2)A real one has an indented oketz, while a grafted one has an oketz that protrudes. 3)A real one has a thick peel with very little juice, while a grafted one has a thin peel and a lot of juice. The Tiferet Yisrael (Mishnayot Sukka 3:6) says that a person ideally should look for an etrog that is very bumpy and has an indented oketz. Nitei Gavriel (p. 140) as well as [[Kashrut]] Arbaat Haminim (p. 8) codify this view.
* Ball-like: The Gemara (36a) says that an etrog that is round like a ball is invalid. This is quoted by Tur and Shulchan Aruch (648:18). Mishna Brurah (648:59) explains that a round etrog is invalid since it is not a normal shape of an etrog. Beiur Halacha (648:18) elaborates that it is not necessary to be stringent for the opinion of Tosfot that a cylindrical etrog is invalid, since most authorities disagree. Kaf Hachaim (648:113), however, says that ideally, one should accommodate this view of Tosfot.
* Tower-like: Tiferet Yisrael (Yachin [[Sukkah]] 3:6) writes that ideally, the etrog should be like a tower, meaning thick at the bottom and thin on top. Nitei Gavriel (p. 140) and Arbaat Haminim Lamedharim (p. 252) agree.
* Symmetrical: Tiferet Yisrael ({{ibid}}.Yachin Sukkah 3:6) writes that ideally, the pitom should be lined up with the oketz. [[Kashrut]] Arbaat Haminim (p. 8) agrees. Arbaat Haminim Lamehadrin (p. 177) cites Rav Nissim Karelitz, who says that this criterion is met if the pitom and oketz are approximately lined up. * Aesthetic beauty: Chazon Ovadia (p. 278) quotes the Maamar Mordechai, who asserts that besides for the properties that Chazal specified, the beauty of an etrog depends on the subjective view of the individual. Accordingly, Rabbi Mordechai Willig (quoted by Rabbi Eliakim Koenigsberg {{ibid}}. min. 44-6) would ask his wife to pick the nicest-looking etrog from amongst the valid etrogim.</ref>
==Grafted Etrog==
# A grafted Etrog is pasul whether it was grafted with lemon, promerance, or any other fruit. <Ref>The overwhelming consensus of Achronim hold that a grafted Etrog is unfit all days of [[Sukkot]] and one may not make a Bracha on it. These Achronim include Magen Avraham 648:23, Taz 648:3, S”A HaRav 648:31, Mishna Brurah 648:65, Chazon Ovadyah [[Sukkot]] (pg 223).</ref>

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