By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, November 5, 2008

The lemon-like etrog is one of the four types of vegetation that we hold together and wave during Succot to fulfil one of the most picturesque mitzvot. The Torah (Leviticus 21: 40) tells us to take a pri etz hadar, the fruit of a beautiful tree. How come everyone calls it an etrog?

The word appears to derive from the Persian, trunga, meaning a citrus fruit. (The Talmud calls it an etrunga.)

Great care is taken in selecting an etrog so that it should be beautiful. Since even small blemishes can render the etrog invalid, it is scrupulously protected.

This feature has given rise to an interesting coinage in Israeli journalism, etrogisation, where the press shields a politician of whom it approves from criticism. When Ariel Sharon, previously reviled, announced the disengagement from Gaza, Yoel Marcus of Ha'aretz wrote: "from now on, the press must treat Sharon like a precious etrog".

Last updated: 2:04pm, November 5 2008