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Compared to the extremely intricate halachos of the arba’ah minim, putting up a succah seems downright simple. Put up some walls made of any material, add some s’chach to top it off, and voila — the succah is ready. Or is it? Kolmus interviews Rabbi Yirmiyahu Kaganoff, a “rabbi who makes Succah calls,” and got some surprising answers to some seemingly simple questions.
Corfu’s esrog trade — which for centuries produced some of the world’s most sought-after esrogim — is nonexistent today. Interestingly, it is not the halachic issues that arose regarding the esrogim that caused them to disappear from the market, but a sad episode in the history of this beautiful Greek Island.
On the night of Hoshana Rabba, people would go out into the moonlight and look at their shadows. If a person’s shadow was whole, it was taken as a good omen; if not, it was taken as a sign that a difficult decree had been issued against him. Why is this custom, which is discussed by the Zohar and many Rishonim, no longer in practice?
For centuries, scholars struggled to understand the discrepancies between the gemara’s account of the middle letters, words, and verses of the Torah and Tehillim, and what seems to be the reality in our versions. A modern-day talmid chacham, once a mathematician in the Soviet Union, found some astonishingly simple answers.