Over 350 esrogim from Calabria, Italy were detected and confiscated by Israeli customs agents. It is an annual event, with merchants devising new-and-improved methods to smuggle the valuable esrogim into the country. Nevertheless, not all of their efforts are successful.
While the Ministry of Agriculture officially permits importing the esrogim, merchants explain this is easier said than done and in actuality, most seem to resort to try to bring the esrogim in under the radar. They explain the process to have the esrog declared clean for import is not in line with reality if one wishes to sell such an esrog for the mitzvah.
Attorney Mordechai Tzivin is quoted by Chadrei Chareidim as saying “the regulations set by the ministry are in contradiction with the law guaranteeing freedom of religion”. Tzivin has been working to have several dozen of the esrogim released from customs in time to sell them for Sukkos. He adds that the situation is that much more disturbing since this occurs “davka in the Jewish country”.
Ministry officials promise to find a workable solution by next year.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)