Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Perfect Mitzvah?

I hear much about the הידור, the beautifying of the mitzvah of lulav and ethrog. Many people complain to me when I demonstrate a perceived lack of intensity or enthusiasm in choosing my ethrog. I generally like to make sure it is kosher, and then I look for about 15 minutes at the other lulavim and ethrogim. I choose the most aesthetically pleasing one I find there, pay the salesman, and say goodbye. I try not to spend too much time there.

I attempt to ensure that I do not act like some people there; I refrain from pushing, and I am polite to everyone. If I see another eyeing the ethrog in my hand, I offer it to him with a smile, and choose another one. I certainly don't pester the salesman with a myriad of questions as to the kashrut of one ethrog or another, and then after all that, ask him if I can take it to the local halachik authority. I am sure the seller has other customers to deal with besides me. I am almost positive that the local rabbi has better things to do with his precious little time at home (at 10:00 PM!) than to answer the door for the nth time to a man with a frown on his face and a citron in his hand.

I suppose each person has his own idea of הידור מצווה. Some people feel their mitzvah to be beautiful if they find themselves shaking a symmetrical ethrog and a perfect lulav. To me, the social exchanges and inter-personal behavior that accompany the purchase are the beautification of my mitzvah. When I wave my slightly off-center ethrog and imperfect lulav, whose purchase (I hope) hurt no feelings and was (I pray) a burden to no-one, I, for one, feel content.