Monday, October 10, 2005

Why The Lulav Crisis?

There seems to be two different versions as to why there may be a shortage of lulavim this year. Ha'aretz:
The ban had been the result of an Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture decision to forbid the cutting of fronds from date trees at el-Arish in the Sinai in order to protect them from damage.
This seems pretty ridiculous. Removing many branches from a palm tree may be detrimental, but removing one or two fronds should not harm the tree. We've been celebrating this holiday for thousands of years and I don't remember hearing such claims. Yated Ne'eman as quoted by Arutz 7 gives a different reason:
The Israeli market demands some 500,000 kosher lulavim a year for the Sukkot holiday, and the vast majority of this number are imported from Egypt. This year, however, one importer - Avi Balali of Segulah, north of Kiryat Gat - has managed to convince Egypt to drastically reduce the amount of lulavim it exports, and to allow him exclusive rights on that limited amount.

A report in the Hebrew weekly Yated Ne'eman alleges that Balali, a non-observant Jew, bribed Egyptian officials to this end.
If this report is not true, Yated owes Mr. Balali an apology. If it is true, unscrupulous is too kind a word for this man.

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