The Broken Pittam

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October 16 2005
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The Broken Pittam


Many etrogim are harvested with their pistil still attached.  This pistil is known as the pittam.  If the etrog is not handled properly, the pittam can break off of the etrog.  This article will discuss the status of an etrog with a broken pittam.


The Torah (Vayikra 23:40) refers to the etrog as a p'ri eitz hadar, a beautiful fruit.  The Gemara, Sukkah 29b, derives from the word hadar that certain flaws invalidate the four species.  Regarding the etrog, the Mishna, Sukkah 34b, lists various imperfections of an etrog that would render it invalid.  These imperfections include an etrog that is dried, cracked, perforated, incomplete, or missing the pittam.


There is a dispute among the Rishonim as to which part of the etrog is considered the pittam.  An etrog grows with the pistil protruding from the top and the stem protruding from the bottom.  The pistil consists of two parts.  The stigma is the round portion on top known as the shoshanta.  The style is the stalk-like portion that supports the stigma, known as the dad.  Rabbeinu Tam, in Tosafot, Sukkah 35a, and Rambam, Hilchot Lulav 8:7, assert that as long as the dad is intact, the etrog is valid.  Rif, Sukkah 17b (as understood by Ran, ad loc., s.v. Gemara) is of the opinion that if the shoshanta falls off, the etrog is no longer valid.  Rashi, Sukkah 35b, s.v. Nitla, quotes one opinion that the pittam is the stem on the bottom of the etrog.  According to this opinion if the entire stem is uprooted, the etrog is invalid.


Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 648:7, rules in accordance with the opinion of Rambam that the etrog is valid as long as the dad remains intact.  Rama, ad loc., rules that although Rambam's opinion is the accepted opinion, one should follow the stringent opinion that if the shoshanta falls off, the etrog is invalid.  Mishna Berurah 648:31, notes that Rama's stringency only applies to one who has the choice of purchasing two equivalent etrogim, one of which has a broken shoshanta.  However, if the etrog with the broken shoshanta is a nicer etrog, one should purchase that etrog despite its broken shoshanta.  It is clear from this ruling that if the shoshanta breaks subsequent to the purchase of the etrog, one is not required to purchase a new etrog (see Mishna Berurah, Biur Halacha, ad loc., s.v. Mihu).


There is a dispute among the Acharonim as to how much of the dad must remain intact in order for the etrog to be valid.  Taz 648:11, maintains that the etrog is only invalidated if the entire dad is uprooted.  Levush 648:8, contends that even if part of the dad falls off, the etrog is invalid.  Magen Avraham 648:9, presents a middle position that if there remains a part of the dad protruding from the etrog, the etrog is valid.  If the remaining part of the dad is below the surface of the etrog it is invalid.  Mishna Berurah 648:30, quotes the opinions of Taz and Magen Avraham, but does not rule conclusively on the matter. [See Mishna Berurah, Sha'ar HaTziun 648:32, who limits the difference between Magen Avraham and Taz by stating that even Taz will agree that the etrog is invalid if the only remnant of the dad is below the surface of the etrog, and there is an indentation in the etrog.]   


A Broken Pittam After the First Day


A broken pittam is not necessarily problematic throughout Sukkot.  The Mishna, Sukkah 41a, states that the mitzvah of the four species applies throughout Sukkot for one who is in the Beit HaMikdash.  For one who is outside of the Beit HaMikdash the biblical mitzvah of the four species only applies on the first day of Sukkot.  The obligation throughout the rest of Sukkot is rabbinic in nature.  [The Talmud Yerushalmi, Sukkah 3:13, provides the source in the Torah to distinguish between the Beit HaMikdash and other areas.]  Therefore, there is room to draw a distinction between an etrog that is used for the first day of Sukkot, and an etrog that is used for the rest of Sukkot.  The Gemara, Sukkah 36a, draws this distinction regarding an incomplete etrog in order to explain the practice of R. Chanina.  R. Chanina would eat part of his etrog prior to using it for the mitzvah.  The Gemara explains that he would only eat the etrog starting on the second day, and an incomplete etrog is valid from the second day and onward.


Tosafot, Sukkah 29b, s.v. Ba'inan, note that although an incomplete etrog is valid from the second day and onward, the Gemara, Sukkah 29b, implies that an etrog which lacks hadar (beauty) is invalid throughout Sukkot.  Rambam, Hilchot Lulav 8:9, as well as Ramban, Lulav HaGadol, disagree and assume that an etrog that lacks hadar is valid on the second day.  [Ramban explains that the Gemara that invalidates an etrog that lacks hadar on the second day refers to an etrog that is for use in the Beit HaMikdash.  Since the mitzvah of the four species in the Beit HaMikdash is of biblical origin, all of the imperfections will invalidate the etrog throughout Sukkot.]


Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 649:5, rules in accordance with the opinion of Rambam.  Therefore, an etrog that is incomplete or lacks hadar is valid starting on the second day.  However, Rama, ad loc., rules in accordance with the opinion of Tosafot that an etrog that lacks hadar is invalid throughout Sukkot.  Accordingly, one must address whether the invalidity of an etrog whose pittam fell off is due to the lack of hadar or whether it is invalid because it is incomplete.


Rabbeinu Yerucham, Sefer Adam 8:3, states that an etrog whose pittam fell off is similar to an incomplete etrog and is valid starting on the second day.  However, R. Avraham of Prague (cited in Darkei Moshe 649:5), is of the opinion that an etrog with a broken pittam lacks hadar and is therefore invalid throughout Sukkot.  Rama, ibid, rules in accordance with the opinion of Rabbeinu Yerucham.  However, Magen Avraham 649:17, notes that Maggid Mishneh, Hilchot Lulav 8:7, is also of the opinion that an etrog with a broken pittam is invalid due to a lack of hadar.  Therefore, Magen Avraham rules that an etrog with a broken pittam should not be used throughout Sukkot.


Mishna Berurah 649:36, quotes Eliah Rabbah, 649:15, who contends that even if R. Avraham of Prague is correct, one can utilize the opinion of Rambam – who holds that even an etrog that lacks hadar is valid starting on the second day - as a mitigating factor in a situation where there is no other etrog available.  Mishna Berurah adds that one should not recite a beracha in such a situation unless there is an additional mitigating factor (i.e., the pittam is broken in a way that there is room to validate the etrog for the first day).


There is one limitation in validating an etrog with a broken pittam after the first day.  Those who live in the Diaspora observe a second day of Yom Tov called Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyot.  Ran, Sukkah 14a, quotes a dispute as to whether the leniencies of the etrog that apply the rest of Sukkot apply on Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyot.  Ran concludes that one may rely on these leniencies but one may not recite a beracha when relying on these leniencies.  Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 649:6, rules in accordance with the opinion of Ran.  Accordingly, there is more reluctance to rely on the leniencies mentioned previously regarding the broken pittam on Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyot


A Pittam that Fell Off During the Development of the Etrog


Many etrogim are sold without a pittam.  These etrogim lost their pittam during the development of the etrog.  Rabbeinu Asher, Sukkah 3:16, states that if the etrog never had a pittam from the outset (i.e. the pistil detached prior to the formation of the fruit) the etrog is valid.  This ruling is codified by Rama, Orach Chaim 648:7.  Mishna Berurah 648:32, explains that since the natural growth of the etrog was without the pittam, it cannot be categorized as incomplete or lacking hadar.  R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (cited in Halichot Shlomo Vol. II 10:18) adds that based on the logic of Mishna Berurah, the etrog is valid even if the pittam falls off at a later stage of its development.

Halacha:
Sukkot 

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    Learning on the Marcos and Adina Katz YUTorah site is sponsored today by the Goldberg and Mernick families to mark the yahrzeit of Samuel M. Goldberg, R’ Shmuel Meir ben R’ Eliyahu HaCohen z”l