The Jewish holiday of Sukkot begins in a few days (if you don’t know what I’m referring to, get this book). One of the ritual stars of the holiday is a lemon-like fruit called “etrog” that we hold during prayers. The etrog is supposed to be pear shaped, have bumpy skin (unlike the smooth lemon), and be free of all marks or blemishes. The closer to this description the etrog is, the more beautiful it is considered, and the more expensive it is to purchase. The beauty of the etrog, beyond the basic requirements, is largely subjective, based on the “eye of the beholder”. Many purchasers will spend time examining different specimens to find the one that they consider beautiful, before finally choosing one.
Just today I went to a store to buy my own etrog and had a momentary flash of inspiration that I thought you might find useful in your search for your Mr. or Ms. Right. There were scores of etrogs lying on a table, waiting to be examined. I saw an old friend looking for an etrog too. He had already been there for a while and was studying each etrog he picked up with the scrutiny of a master diamond cutter. I started my own search, looked at a few, and then saw one that caught my eye. It was actually one of the cheaper ones, which means that whoever initially priced it considered it to be less desirable than the more expensive ones. I realized that it wasn’t perfect, but I liked it and felt that if I continued searching for something better I might end up wasting a lot of time and ending up with something less attractive. I showed my etrog to my friend who admitted to have already examined it and passed on it. To each his own. I bought the etrog and left. My friend continued to look at literally score of etrogs in his search for the one he would consider beautiful.
If you haven’t gotten the metaphor, let me hit you in the face with it. The etrog search is just like the soulmate search. You have an image of your perfect one. You start searching. You look at different potential matches. You find one that catches your eye. You like it, but it’s not exactly what you initially had in mind. There are so many more to choose from. You need to make a decision. You can keep the one that you like and move on to enjoy the next stage of your life, or you can continue searching through all the other ones in the hope of finding the one that is “perfect”.
Many men and women choose to pass up potential winners in the hope of finding their fantasy mate. They end up wasting years searching. In many cases they end up wishing that they had chosen the ones they passed up, but it’s usually too late because someone else has already snatched those up. So they finally do fall in love with someone who they might have fallen for years before, had they been thinking like they are now. Sometimes they continue searching until there’s no one left to find.
I’m happy with my etrog. I know it has flaws but I think it’s beautiful in its own special way. I’m also happy to be leaving the store. I’m tired of searching. My friend might still be searching for his perfect etrog. I hope he finds it.
What do you think?
Check out my next post to find out what happened to my etrog.