The law of an Esrog that contains a colored spot [i.e. white; black; green; etc]

The law of an Esrog that contains a colored spot [i.e. white; black; green; etc]:[1]

An Esrog must look beautiful, otherwise known as Hadar. This is not just a subjective form of beauty, but a beauty that carries Halachic definition and invalidations. Due to the obligation of Hadar, an Esrog must be a single solid color and may not contain spots, and certainly shades, of other colors. This Halacha will discuss the details regarding color changes and spots found on an Esrog, what is its definition, and when does it invalidate.


The law on the First day of Sukkos:

Color change within the Chotem:[2] If there is any Halachically defined color change in the top area of the Esrog, called the Chotem, then the Esrog is Pasul.[3] This applies even if the color change is a very small amount [i.e. a small black dot].[4] The Chotem is defined as the area [on the upper half of the Esrog[5], towards the Pitam] from the point that it begins to slope inwards towards its top and becomes narrow and gradient.[6] [See illustration below]

Below the Chotem:[7] If there is a color change below the Chotem, then if there is only a single color change [i.e. one black dot or one white dot], the Esrog remains Kosher so long as this color does not cover majority of the Esrog.[8] If there are two or more color changes, then it is disputed[9] as to whether it remains Kosher under certain circumstances[10], or is always invalid, and initially one should be stringent like the latter approach to not use such an Esrog even if the two color changes are near each other.[11] However, in a time of need that no other Esrog can be found, one may use an Esrog that contains two color changes below the Chotem, if from the beginning of the first color change until the end of the second color change it only covers minority of the circumference of the Esrog’s width or length, such as if the two spots are on the same side of the Esrog. If, however, it covers majority of the circumference of the Esrogs width or length, such as if the two spots are on different sides of the Esrog, then it is Pasul according to all opinions.[12]


The law on the second day in Diaspora:[13]

On the second day of Sukkos in the Diaspora, an Esrog with an invalid color change is disputed[14] if it is invalid, just like on the first day, or retains the leniencies of Chol Hamoed [as explained next]. Practically, one is not to use such an Esrog, and if no other esrog is available, and one cannot borrow an Esrog from another person, then one is to use it without a Bracha.[15]


The law on Chol Hamoed:[16]

During Chol Hamoed, an Esrog with an invalid color change is disputed[17] if it is invalid, just like on the first day. Practically, one may not initially use an Esrog with an invalid color change even during Chol Hamoed, however if no other Esrog is available, then one may use such an Esrog [even with a Bracha[18]].[19]


The definition of a color change according to Halacha:

Admur records various types of color changes:

  1. A change of color that occurred after part of the rind of the Esrog peeled off.[20]
  2. A natural born color change in one area.[21]
  3. Menumar: A natural born color change of two different colors in two areas, such as black and white colors in two different areas of the Esrog.[22]
  4. Keminumar: A natural born color change of the same color in two areas.[23]
  5. A black Esrog.[24]

Apparent at first sight:[25] A color change of any type is only able to invalidate an Esrog if it is noticeable to majority of people at first site. Meaning, that it is noticeable to the eye when it is held in one’s hand [from a normal distance[26], at the first time[27]] without needing to focus one’s sight on it until he sees it.

Menumar- Leopard Esrog:[28] An Esrog with spotted colors is Menumar and is invalid due to it not considered Hadar. The following is the definition of Menumar: Any Esrog that has two different colors such as black and white or other colors which are not the normal color of the Esrog is invalid.

The law of color changes caused by thorns:[29] The color change is only problematic if it occurred on its own with the growth of the Esrog. If, however, thorns punctured the Esrog and caused brown juice to come out and create red areas and indented areas within the Esrog, nevertheless it remains valid.

Bletlach-Leaf marks:[30] A Blet Lach[31] [leaf mark] is not considered a color change or blister and is thus valid even if it protrudes above the skin of the Esrog.[32]


Koshering an Esrog-Peeling off the color change:[33]

An Esrog that contains an invalidating color change may be validated/Koshered through peeling off the color from the Esrog. This is permitted to be done even initially.[34] This applies even if the Esrog contains many areas of color changes. The following conditions, however, must be met for it to be considered Kosher through peeling off the color:

  1. One is to peel off only the external thin green skin of the esrog in a way that the white body of the Esrog does not become revealed, thus assuring that nothing is missing from the body of the Esrog.[35] [If the white skin of the Esrog becomes revealed, then it is invalid due to Chaser and Menumar.]
  2. After the invalidating color is peeled off, the color of the peeled area must be similar to the color of the rest of the Esrog for it to be Kosher.


If an Esrog has a color change which is noticeable at first site, then if it is on its Chotem area, it is invalid. If it is below the Chotem area, it is valid. If there are two or more color changes below the Chotem area, then it is not to be initially used and is invalid even Bedieved if the two color changes take up majority of the circumference of the Esrog.


Problematic Color Changes:

·         Black.[36]

·         White.[37]

·         Dark Red

·         Dark Brown

·         Dark Blue


Valid colors:

·         Pink

·         Light Brown

·         Light Blue


What is the law if one’s Esrog became brownish due to it being used by many people?[38]

The Esrog remains valid, and on the contrary this is its beauty when it becomes browned due to the Mitzvah.



[1] Admur 648:16, 21 regarding a color change due to peeling; 26 regarding natural color change [i.e. Menumar]; 19-20 regarding a Chazazis and 648:21 and 26 that a Chazazis and color changes of peeling or Menumar have the same law regarding all matters. [As the invalidation of a Chazazis and color change are both due to it being considered Menumar or spotted. Thus, all the laws explained in Admur regarding a Chazazis are likewise applied to a color change.]; Michaber 648:12 and 16; Sukkah 35b and 36 a regarding Menumar

Difference between Menumar and change of color due to peeling: Admur lists two different forms of color changes. One is due to the peeling of the fruit, and the second is due to its natural growth. The former case contains more stringent laws than the latter, as explained in the section regarding an Esrog with a peeled area. See Sefer Arbas Haminim p. 163 for a full discussion on this matter!

[2] Admur 648:16 and 21 regarding a color change due to peeling; 648:26 that Menumar has the same law as a Chazazis regarding all matters; Michaber 648:12; Tur 648; Levush 648:6; Based on Sukkah 35b regarding Chazazis

[3] The reason: As the main beauty of an Esrog is dependent on its upper slope called the Chotem, as this area is more readily apparent to the eye then the other areas, and this is the area that a person first looks at upon glancing at an Esrog. [Admur 648:21; Rashi Sukkah 35b]

[4] Admur 648:21 “Afilu Mashuhu”; Michaber ibid

[5] Biur Halacha 648 “Mimakom” that the bottom half is never considered part of the Chotem even if it tilts inwards; Alef Hamagen 648 Kuntrus Achron 6; Shevet Halevi 8:150; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 648:11; Sefer Arbas Haminim p. 191

[6] Admur 648:21; Michaber 648:9 and 12; Rosh 3:20

An Esrog that contains two slopes: It is questionable whether an Esrog that contains two slopes, such as a mountain on a mountain, is considered to contain two Chotems. [Ashel Avraham Butchach 648; Piskeiy Teshuvos 648:11] However, see Sefer Arbas Haminim p. 191 who infers from the wording of Admur “towards its head” that there only the most upper slope is the Chotem. This especially applies if the lower mountain is below the half way point of the Esrog. [Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 26]

An Esrog with an uneven slope: If the slope on one side of the Esrog begins at a higher point than the other side, then one may be lenient to only consider the Chotem to begin from the sloped area of each individual side. [Shevet Halevi ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 648:11]

[7] Admur 648:19-20 regarding a Chazazis and 648:21 and 26 that a Chazazis and color changes of Menumar have the same law; Michaber 648:16; Rosh Sukkah 3:22

[8] Admur 648:26 regarding Menumar “However, if the invalid color change is on only one area of the Esrog, then it does not invalidate unless it covers majority, or half of the Esrog, as explained regarding a Chazazis.”; Michaber 648:16; Rosh Sukkah 3:22

[9] Admur 648:26 plainly rules that two color changes is Menumar and makes the Esrog invalid, however from his conclusion that Menumar follows the same status as a Chazazis, it is proven that in truth it follows the same dispute and rulings as a Chazazis when below the Chotem, as explained next. [See Arba Minim p. 210]

The dispute: Some Poskim rule that only if the measurement between the Chazazis [or two color changes] takes up majority of the circumference of the Esrog is it invalid when below the Chotem. [1st opinion in Admur ibid; 1st opinion in Michaber 648:10; 2nd opinion in Tur 648; Raavad in Tamim Deim 232; Rosh Sukkah 3:19; Rivash 139] Other Poskim rule that whenever there are two color changes, it is always invalid, irrelevant of how close or far the colors are from each other. [2nd opinion in Admur ibid; 2nd opinion in Michaber 648:10; 1st opinion in Tur 648 in name of his brother Rav Yecheil; Mahritz Geios Lulav 105; See Chidushei Tzemach Tzedek 73]

[10] See next regarding Bedieved and see previous footnote

[11] Conclusion of Admur 648:20 regarding Chazazis; Admur 648:26 plainly rules that the Esrog is forbidden if it has two color changes even if it takes up only minority of the Esrog

[12] Admur 648:20 regarding Chazazis

How to measure this: Although one can always measure from right to left or left to right, and up to down and down to up and thus, depending on how one measures it, it will always take up minority and majority of the circumference, the novelty here is that it is measured by whether the two spots are on the same side. If they are on the same side, which means that they are both viewable simultaneously, then it is valid. If they are not viewable simultaneously, then they are considered to be on different sides and are invalid. [See Arba Minim p. 183 and p. 186; Hilchos Daled Minim p. 19]

[13] Admur 649:21

[14] The dispute: Some Poskim rule that the 2nd day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora follows all the stringencies of the first day which is Biblical. [Stam opinion in Admur 649:17 and 18; M”A in 645 and 646; Darkei Moshe 649:7; Tur 649; Rosh 3:3; Raavad in Tamim Deim 227; Hamanhig Lulav; Ravaya 652 in name of Rabbeniu Tam] Other Poskim, however, rule that the second day of Yom Tov in the Diaspora follows the same status as Chol Hamoed regarding all invalidations. [2nd opinion in Admur ibid; Rambam 8:9 as explains Maggid Mishneh; 1st approach in Ran Sukkah 14a]

[15] Conclusion of Admur ibid; Michaber 648:5; Conclusion of Ran

[16] Admur 649:19

[17] The dispute: Some Poskim rule that all invalidations of Hadar, which includes a color change, are invalid throughout all days of Sukkos. [Stam opinion in Admur 649:17 and 19; Rama 649:5 regrding Chazazis and Menumar; M”A 649:22; Tosafus Sukkah 29b; Rabbeinu Yerucham 8:3; Rosh 3:15] Other Poskim, however, rule that on Chol Hamoed all Hadar invalidations, such as a Chazazis or color change, are Kosher. [2nd opinion in Admur 649:19; Michaber 649:5; Tur 649 in name of Baal Haitur; Rambam 8:9; Ravad ibid; opinion in Tosafus Sukkah 29b; Rosh 3:15 in understanding of Yerushalmi 3:6; Maharitz Geios Lulav p. 100; Taz 648:9 concludes like Rambam/Michaber regarding Chazazis; Elya Raba 649:15]

[18] So is implied from conclusion of Admur ibid who writes “as the custom is to say a blessing in a time of need on all invalidations, even on the 1st day”; P”M 648, brought in Shaar Hatziyon 648:53

[19] Admur ibid; M”B 648:49

[20] Admur 648:16

[21] Admur 648:26

[22] Admur 648:26

[23] Admur 648:26

[24] Admur 648:27

[25] Admur 648:22; M”A 648:18; Mabit 3:49; M”B 648:46; Piskeiy Teshuvos 648:14

[26] Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[27] Admur ibid “Behashkafa Roshona; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid

[28] Admur 648:26

[29] Admur 648:23; M”A 648:19; Mabit 3:49

[30] Admur 648:23; Rama 648:13; Maharil Esorg p. 399; Teurmas Hadeshen 99

Other Opinions: Some opinions rule a Bletlach is defined as a Chazazis and is invalid. [see Four Species p. 53]

[31] A Blet Lach is a type of Chazazis which is. [ibid]

[32] Meaning that one can feel with his hand a bump by the leaf area hence proving it is higher than the Esrog skin. [ibid]

The reason: The reason for this is because these marks are considered as part of the color of the Esrog as it is common for many Esrogim to carry these marks and it is hence not a great diversion.

[33] Admur 648:24; Michaber 648:14; Rosh 3:18

[34] Admur ibid; Rosh ibid

[35] Admur ibid; Rama ibid

[36] 648:26

[37] 648:26

[38] Chasam Sofer on Shas 36a brought in many Poskim. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 648:17]

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