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Pick of the Crop

Rabbi Eliyahu Gut

Over the summer bein hazmanim, the esrog orchards of Eretz Yisrael were overrun by fortune seekers of a different sort — bochurim and yungeleit eager to handpick a beautiful esrog in fields turned ownerless by the halachos of shemittah. What’s it like for an orchard owner to watch his carefully nurtured trees at the mercy of those enthusiastic and clueless visitors? And perhaps more importantly — will those treasured esrogim picked at the height of summer really merit a brachah by the time Succos arrive

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rabbi Aharon Veiner is relatively new to the esrog-growing business, having bought his pardes only seven years ago, during the last shemittah. He stared out by working in another orchard at night, which enabled him to continue learning full-time during the day. “I would go out with my wife to the orchard, and together we would do the work. The time came when I decided I wanted to be independent, but I didn’t know how. I contacted someone very special — to whom I owe all my success — Reb Eliezer Daube, who is known for the esrogim he grows. I asked him to prepare some saplings for me to plant an orchard. He does this for a lot of people, and he agreed. “But two weeks later, he called me and said, ‘I have an excellent orchard for you. The trees are four years old, so they’re just finishing the neta revai year.’ The owners had given up on it because they didn’t see any esrogim growing and thought it didn’t pay to invest in it. With Hashem’s help, I was able to get funding in a remarkable way, and the rest is history.” While Reb Aharon was familiar with the horticultural aspects of the business, he didn’t know much about pricing and marketing. But unexpected help came in that area as well. “One day, at the beginning of Av, my first customers knocked at my door,” he remembers. “They were two scholarly Yidden, a father-in-law and son-in-law, and they ended up helping me far more than I helped them. They taught me all the secrets of marketing, in which I had no experience at all. They explained to me what kind of esrog to show clients, and which ones not to show, and even brought me a loupe that they had at home. It was special siyata d’Shmaya. To this day, I give them special treatment because of this.” 

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