The connection between kashrus and Yom Tov is fairly apparent during Pesach. During this special holiday, chometz is strictly prohibited and we fulfill a very unique mitzvah of eating matzah. There are many intricate halachos associated with baking matzah, which if not performed properly, render one’s matzos to become chometz. There are also many halachos associated with the kashrus of wine used for daled kosos, the maror that we eat at the seder, and the list goes on. However, Pesach is not a holiday that has a monopoly on kashrus concepts. Areas of kashrus are also touched upon during other times of the year, even though sometimes the connection may seem hidden. Sukkos is no exception, as there are topics dealing with kashrus and eating, which are associated with this special time.
There are several detailed halachos associated with eating an esrog. It is prohibited to eat an esrog on Sukkos that is set aside for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzvah of daled minim . This is because the esrog has been set aside specifically for fulfilling a mitzvah, and has the status of muktzeh. However, although it is prohibited for one to eat an esrog on Sukkos, nevertheless, an esrog is considered pasul if it is prohibited to eat for a reason other than its designation as a chfetzah shel mitzvah . This requirement excludes the use of an esrog designated for avodah zarah, tevel, defiled terumah, and orlah . However, in Chutz La’aretz an esrog that is orlah may be used , since safek orlah is permitted outside of Eretz Yisroel, and one is therefore allowed to feed orlah to their unaware friend .
An esrog that accidentally comes into contact with hot non-kosher food may still be used to fulfill the mitzvah throughout Sukkos. This is because most authorities assume the psul of an esrog that is prohibited to eat, refers only to an esrog that is inherently non-kosher. The psul does not apply to a perfectly fine esrog, which may not be eaten because it absorbed non-kosher taste . However, since not everyone is in agreement with this position, one should refrain from using this esrog on the first day of Sukos. Nevertheless, the esrog may be used during the subsequent days of Yom Tov .
It is prohibited to eat food that is stored under a bed because of sakanah (danger) .
Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector zt’l therefore ruled that it is therefore prohibited to use an esrog that was stored under one’s bed because it can not be eaten. However, Rav Chanoch Henoch Eigis zt’l disagreed and accordingly ruled that the esrog should be permitted .
Even though it is prohibited to graft two distinct species, fruit produced from grafting may still be eaten . Nevertheless, an esrog produced through grafting may not be used for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzvah of daled minim . A grafted esrog is known in halacha as an esrog murkav, and there are two reasons quoted why they may not be used. One reason given is that it is improper to fulfill a mitzvah with something that has been created through a transgression. Another reason given, which is perhaps more obvious, is that an esrog murkav is simply not an esrog. Since an esrog murkav was created by grafting two species of fruit, a grated esrog is considered a different species .
There are four simanim (signs) found in poskim to recognize an esrog murkav: 1) the surface of an esrog murkav is smooth, while a proper esrog is bumpy, 2) the oketz of an esrog murkav protrudes outward, while the oketz of a proper esrog is embedded, 3) the outer peel of an esrog murkav is thinner with a juicy center, while the peel of a proper esrog is thick, with a narrow center that has little juice, and 4) and the seeds of an esrog murkav are positioned in accordance with the width of the fruit, while the seeds of a proper esrog are positioned in accordance with its length .
The Chasam Sofer zt”l writes that it sufficient to rely on the presence of outer simanim, without opening the esrog to check the inner ones. Nonetheless, the Chasam Sofer concludes that the simanim themselves do not supersede the need for a proper mesorah (tradition) that a certain type of esrog is kosher. Determining whether an esrog is murkav may be compared to establishing whether a certain type of bird is kesheirah, which is confirmed through mesorah . Nevertheless, the Chofetz Chaim zt”l suggested that in a case of safek (doubt), one may rely on simanin if the majority of esrogim in that area are not grafted .
Many years ago, there was a question raised about the status of Moroccan esrogim, since they are seedless. The Chazon Ish zt”l is quoted as taking the position that Moroccan esrogim should not be used , since an esrog that lacks an inner siman should be suspected to be not kosher . Nevertheless, most poskim are quoted as assuming that Moroccan esrogim are perfectly acceptable, including the Brisker Rov zt”l and Dayan Yitzchok Yaakov Weiss zt’l .
There are different customs as to what is done with the esrog after Sukkos. Some cite a custom that on Hoshanah Rabah after shul, pregnant women should make the esrog pasul, and recite a special prayer for the zechus of an easy labor and healthy child.
There is also a custom to eat esrog jelly, which has several forms. Some, whether they be men or women, eat esrog jelly the night of Tu B’shevat as a segulah to bring bracha into their home. Moreover, pregnant women also customarily eat esrog jelly as a segulah for an easy labor and healthy child .
After Sukkos one is permitted to eat the esrog, since the prohibition to eat an esrog is only in effect during the time that one may use it to fulfill a mitzvah. After Sukkos the esrog is no longer considered set aside as a cheftzah shel mitzvah . This prohibition applies throughout Sukkos, even if the esrog becomes pasul during that time . In areas outside of Eretz Yisroel the prohibition remains in effect until after Shemini Atzeres . This is because in Chutz La’aretz the first day of Shemini Atzeres is also considered the last day of Sukkos, as what is popularly known as Yom Tov Sheni Shel Galuyos. However, in Chutz La’aretz it is permitted to eat the esrog on Simchas Torah. Nonetheless, if Simchas Torah falls out in Sunday some authorities still prohibit eating the esrog until after Yom Tov.