Esrogim Shipment Ruined When Sprayed at Ben-Gurion With Pesticide


esrogimThis year Moshe, a resident of Kfar Chabad, wanted to play by the rules. Moshe is an importer of the “Yanova etrog,” an expensive variety grown in Calabria, a region on the southwestern tip of Italy. According to Moshe, who used a fictitious name to protect his identity, his attempt to behave lawfully backfired.”My entire shipment of esrogim was ruined by Agriculture Ministry officials last Thursday,” Moshe said this week.

“The shipment arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport where it was inspected by officials from the Agriculture Ministry and then they sprayed it with some kind of pesticide. A few hours later the esrogim started rotting.

“I lost everything, everything.

“I think they did it on purpose to protect local growers from competition.”

The ministry said in response that “the State of Israel does not normally permit imports of citrus fruits due to various pests, insects and diseases that can be transmitted to humans, animals and plants…

“In an unusual move, this year the Agriculture Ministry permitted the import of esrogim from Calabria out of consideration for the desires of the public. To allow this import, however, the Agriculture Ministry’s plant protection agency must provide careful supervision aimed at preventing contamination.

“The esrogim that are imported are inspected upon arrival and undergo a fumigation treatment. This treatment is administered carefully and has been proven to cause no damage to fruit. All the esrogs were treated in this way.”

The ministry spokeswoman said that she was not aware of any case in which a shipment of esrogim was destroyed.

“Without receiving shipment details we have no way of providing more specific information. However, any shipment found to be contaminated is either returned to its source or destroyed immediately.”

The type of esrog grown in Calabria has a long history. Some go to great lengths to obtain the expensive fruit, which is sold in the US for about $150 each and in Israel for slightly less.

The Baal Hatanya is quoted as saying that the esrog from Calabria was the one used by Moshe Rabbeinu.

The esrog from Calabria is also known as the Yanova etrog, because it was commonly obtained by Jews in the Italian port city of Genoa as early as the Middle Ages.

Every year in the summer, a delegation of rabbonim who provide hashgacha during the picking of the fruit arrive in Santa Maria Del Cedro, a town in Calabria.

Moshe, meanwhile, has learned a lesson from his ordeal, which has caused him a financial loss of thousands of dollars.

“Next year I am not going to be a good boy. Like everybody else, I will smuggle the esrogim into Israel in suitcases and sell them in the black market. This proves that when you try to play by the rules you get burned.”

 {JPost/Yair Israel}


  1. Great. So now Matzav is advocating smuggling? Isn’t dina d’malchusa dina apply even in the Jewish State?

    There is a reason that the fruit is inspected – you have no idea how quickly agricultural pests can spread and the harm they can do. The United States has seen many problems with insects from imported fruit, not to mention fungi and other bugs.

    Most countries inspect incoming agricultural produce to prevent this. Why should Israel give less protection to its farmers than the rest of the world does?

    And if these esrogim are sold illegally, that may make them posul. He will have to restrict his clientele to the Neturei Karta.

    If the gentleman has a complaint, let him sue.

  2. actually its quite poshut. you cant smuggle a fruit into the usa – even one little sabra or guava from israel. why? because you can bring bugs with it that will breed and multiply and do damage to american crops.
    so in a sense the isralis spraying pesticides was kavana for the benefit of the receiving state.


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