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Sukkah 36: Is Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder?

The many different ways that an etrog can be invalidated for use for the mitzvah of the 4 minim – with a focus on an unripe etrog, and the dispute about it. Also, on making sure that the etrog is beautiful – with a story about R. Akiva and his super-large etrog. His partiality to this etrog seems to point to the subjectivity of beauty, yet there do seem to be some objective standards as well. Plus, binding the lulav with its own species – a disputed point by those who would use other substances (including gold rings). Note the shaky kal va-chomer here about what materials are acceptable for the sukkah, as compared to the bindings of the lulav. Also, how much beauty is established here as the natural, unprocessed world – in tension with decorations of gold and silver.

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Anne and Yardaena

Anne Gordon is the deputy editor of Ops & Blogs at The Times of Israel. She is a veteran educator, having taught in high school and post-high school institutions in Israel and America for several decades. Yardaena Osband is a pediatrician and teaches in her community and online. They both hail from Boston, proud alumna of Maimonides School, where they first learned Gemara. Talking Talmud is their conversation (via podcast) on the daf yomi. They say: "Learning the daf? We have something for you to think about. Not learning the daf? We have something for you to think about! (Along with a taste of the daf...) Join the conversation with us!"
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