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Sep 17, 2013

Pittem-Insurance for the risk-takers

Do you prefer to buy an esrog with a pittem? (I don't even know the proper spelling for pittem, if there is one..). Back in the USA, way back when, I remember, esrog with pittem was the standard. Here in Israel, esrog without pittem is the standard, and some people look for the esrog with the pittem, which is usually a bit more expensive and also a bit harder to find.

By the way,, another thing different today than back in the good old days is the horsehair wrapping. It used to be when you buy an esrog it would be wrapped in this amazing bed of horsehair. In shul you would unwrap it, and after shaking and doing what you need to do, you would lovingly rewrap it. Nowadays they almsot all come with foam wraps that just are not the same.

It used to be thought that people who bought the esrog with a pittem either did not have little children at home, or they were just big risk-takers. If the pittem breaks off, the esrog becomes invalid. After spending a lot of money on an esrog with a pittem, that could be a big loss for the pittem to break off...

If you are one of those pittem risk-takers, you now have a solution to your hedge against your risk. We used to joke about pittem-insurance, but now it is a reality, at least in New York.

The way it works is that the buyer of the pittemed esrog will pay an additional $10 to the merchant above the price of the esrog. That $10 is his insurance payment, in case the pittem breaks off. If it does break during the holiday, he will be given a brand new beautiful pittemed esrog.

I wonder how easy or difficult it will be to find the esrog merchant to cash in on the insurance, should it be necessary, once the holiday has begun..

The next stage is selling all sorts of complimentary insurance packages. Against black dots, against dry spots, against aravot drying out, against the tip of the lulav splitting, etc. all sorts of possibilities exist! And then investigators will be hired to look into fraud and insurance scams - did he break the pittem himself because he wanted a new fresh esrog? was he negligent? did his wife bite off the pittem too early? did his kid use it as a baseball?

This could lead to so many new industries!

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  1. Who's the author of that famous Yiddish story about the esrog with the pitem? I have to go look that up.

    As for the horsehair, I don't miss it. It obviously wasn't real horse hair, but whatever it was, it set off a lot of allergy attacks.

  2. I know it wasnt really horsehair, but thats what we used to call it...

    and, tesyaa, I still prefer the horsehair..

  3. I remember people going crazy about the Pitem too until I read (IIRC, in Yalkut Yosef) that after the first day, an Etrog that lost its Pitem is still Kosher (see KH"H O"H 649:67 for the Mahloket of Shitot there). So, at least for those who are lenient, is it so hard to keep it from falling from the time you open the box on the first day until you make the Beracha that you need insurance?

  4. The fact is that in chul, we got the 'best' export quality stuff, and we paid dearly for that (ignorantly assuming that those were the prices).


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