Tonight is the start of the joyous Jewish holiday of Sukkot. In synagogues and homes all over the world, Jews will raise their voices in prayer while holding and waving the four species -- the lulav (date palm branch), hadasim (myrtle branches), aravot (willow branches) and the etrog -- the citron that looks like a large lemon.
If you think the only use of the etrog is to hold it and wave it on Sukkot, think again.
Tucked away in a corner of Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, Uzi-Eli Hezi, a Yemenite etrog farmer, entertains and informs visitors to his booth about the healing power of his juices and lotions made from the etrogim that he grows on his farm.
Born in Yemen in 1942, Hezi came to Israel in the Operation Magic Carpet airlift in 1950.
As Melanie Hidman wrote in a Jerusalem Post article a few years ago,
Etrog juice hasn't been clinically tested, but is used as a home remedy for centuries. Etrogim – citrons in English – can also cure morning sickness, work as an antidote to snake or scorpion bites, lower blood pressure, cure infertility, help heal burns, and reduce blood pressure, among other medical miracles - all according to Hezi.
“The etrogim keep me healthy and happy,” said Hezi. “I haven’t seen a doctor in 15 years. I pay for health insurance for nothing!” Indeed, he’s got a loyal following of people who feel the same way. Hezi sees more than 250 customers a day at his stall, though he sometimes refers to them as patients. He has hundreds of stories of helping infertile women give birth, lifting chronic depression, and healing ailments large and small through his line of etrog products.Enjoy the video. We'll be shaking our lulav etc. on Monday and Tuesday so there won't be a Joke to Start the Week tomorrow or next Monday which is another Jewish holiday, Shemini Atzeret. We'll be back this Wednesday with our usual mix of Jewish delicacies.
“I can see what’s inside a man and give him a medicine that’s just what he needs,” Hezi explained.
Hezi juggles running the stall and blending the juices, while simultaneously listening attentively to the requests and questions of his customers.
He’s part therapist, part healer, part spiritual adviser, and part etrog connoisseur.
Chag Sukkot sameach to all our readers!