©2018 BY DAVID Z. MOSTER.

BOOK REVIEWS

 

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF ETROG, A MOST RELIGIOUS FRUIT

Dr. Nigel Chaffey
Botany One 
September 06, 2018

"Without doubt, Etrog is a quintessential plants-and-people tome. Indeed, it’s right up there with the likes of du Bois’ The Story of Soy, Harris’ Sunflowers, Grey’s Palm and Drori’s Around the World in 80 Trees...

"There is something rather special in witnessing the scholarly endeavours of one for whom this subject is a speciality, and being suitably impressed by his researches and conclusions...

"But, how refreshing (which is rather apt given its citrus subject matter) to have such an insight into the mind of a true enthusiast and to be able to recommend this book to all who are interested in humans and their plant associations.

"[Etrog is] therefore an example par excellence of what plants-and-people scholarship is all about. Thank you, Rabbi Moster!

ETROG: FROM PERSIA WITH LOVE

Eve Harow
Rejuvenation
September 22, 2018

"It's a really fascinating book by the way, it goes through all the different sources."

"There are some great pictures in there, you really did a magnificent job."


"What this book is telling us is how do we know that [the "beautiful tree-fruit"] is this fruit? Where does it say, or how do we come to the conclusion that the fruit that we call now call an etrog is what our sources are telling us to use on the holidays?

THE PECULIAR HISTORY OF THE ETROG

Rachel Scheinerman
The Jewish Review of Books
September 20, 2018

"In his new, slender, densely researched, and richly illustrated Etrog: How a Chinese Fruit Became a Jewish Symbol, David Z. Moster explains the geographic and textual story behind the citrus fruit that has more seeds than pulp, never rots but instead slowly dries out, and appears in the U.S. market at exorbitant prices for the sole purpose of being waved together with branches from three trees indigenous to the Middle East on the holiday of Sukkot."

"Moster argues that the etrog was chosen as the “beautiful fruit” precisely because it was exotic, the prize of the Ramat Rachel paradise. Unusual in color and smell, used in medicines and rarely consumed because, well, between the thick rind and copious seeds, there simply wasn’t much fruit to be had, the etrog was a good candidate for the role of “beautiful fruit.” 

"I’ll let Moster have the last word:

... Despite the many possible interpretations, the etrog won out, and has come to be cherished in antiquity and today as the most beautiful and important Jewish fruit. Perhaps, in the twenty-first century in which we live, with its globalism, mass migrations, and melting-pot ethos, the fruit should be conceived of as “beautiful” (hadar) for the successful journey it has made. In many ways, there is nothing more beautiful than a migrant who has been able to leave behind the pressures of his or her youth to find a new homeland in which he or she is loved, honored, and esteemed."

HOW A CHINESE FRUIT BECAME A SUKKOT SYMBOL

Josefin Dolsten
Jewish Telegraph Agency
September 18, 2018

"The holiday of Sukkot isn’t complete without a lulav and an etrog, the four species that Jews are commanded to wave on the harvest holiday. But according to a new book, it wasn’t until the Second Temple period that Jews started using the lemon-like etrog as part of their Sukkot celebrations."

"In ancient times, people would simply use whichever fruits they had harvested in that season, such as pomegranates, grapes, dates and figs, says Rabbi David Moster, who has been researching the etrog for a decade and published a book on its history in April."

CHINESE ORIGIN OF THE SUKKOT ETROG

Nehemia's Wall
September 20, 2018

"Wow, wow, wow"

"In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Chinese Origin of the Sukkot Etrog, Nehemia Gordon talks with ordained-rabbi Dr. David Moster about the "fruit" we are commanded to use on the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev 23:40). They discuss how the Citron or "Esrog" arrived in the Land of Israel in the Persian Period, how it played an important role in the rise of the Pharisees, and how it eventually became the distinctive symbol of Judaism - replacing God's holy name. Their conversation explores the Orthodox, Samaritan, and Karaite interpretations of Lev 23:40, its function in the Feast of Booths, and why a southeast Asian-Jewish fruit is a key ingredient in traditional Christmas cakes."