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My son brought me a pamphlet produced by Yeshiva Sh'or Yoshuv (Far Rockaway, NY) that discussed the laws of the 4 minim. (If I can locate an online copy, I'll edit in a link.)

Near the end of the pamphlet, it discussed some special laws of how to handle shmitah (Sabbatical) year etrogim after Succot. It said that it may not be disposed as long as it is in an edible state. It must either be eaten, or left to rot until it is inedible.

My question is, must it be used just as food or would anything useful that doesn't just dispose of the etrog be permitted? E.g. I see many people stud the etrog with cloves and use it for havdalah besamim. Would either that be permitted or using the etrog rind into making a deodorant spray for your bathroom or furniture polish be permitted with the shmittah etrog?

Related question - How about if I just placed the etrog itself into my bathroom to deodorize it, somewhat? (I've never tried this, but, as the etrog starts to rot, it does emit a rather strong lemony scent, actually.) Is this OK, or considered disrespectful?

  • +1 someone just asked me this today. Although using a fruit for a deodorizer seemed disrespectful to me, there is the flip side that esrogim are not grown to be eaten. Short story, I told him I don't know. Let's see what shows up here. – user6591 Oct 9 '15 at 18:49
  • @user6591 "esrogim are not grown to be eaten" - that may be true, now. However, according to a midrash on Breishit, the "forbidden fruit" was an Etrog, and Adama and Chava ate it. Hmmm ... G-d forbade eating the Etrog ... maybe you DO have a point, here? – DanF Oct 9 '15 at 19:01
  • Well yeah, I'm only talking about today's esrogim. It's not my haara. I saw it somewhere. Perhaps OU's site? – user6591 Oct 9 '15 at 19:02
  • It was probably common to eat the esrog back then. Italians still put Citron in a lot of their foods. The Mishnah talks about biting into it. – user6591 Oct 9 '15 at 19:04
  • @user6591 I'm only talking about today's esrogim - Yes. As my grandma once told me, (I think?) "They just don't make etrogim today as they used to". It is true, though. I think they've gotten smaller. Certainly, without the "hay", they don't stay as fresh that long. Foam is convenient and less messy, but they don't do the same job. And, I actually, now have to hunt for a Purim beard! – DanF Oct 9 '15 at 19:11
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The normal alternatives to using a shmita etrog after Sukot are to eat it, allow it to decompose or place it in a bag and later discard it in a respectful manner.

So, in the spirit of maalin ba Kodesh (Shabbat 21b), I would suggest that any other use need to be as respectful or more than the methods above, therefore

  • Using the etrog for havdala, i.e., for a mitzva, appears much more respectful than letting it decompose (CYLOR as not all might agree but I checked with one Rosh Kollel in Bnei Brak who said that since nowadays the usage was NOT to eat the etrog, using it for bsamim did not diminish from his normal use)
  • Deodorant spray, polish, etc. appear much less because you are taking an object with kedushat shviit and actively degrading it

Placing the etrog in a bathroom seems a big no-no, see here, here and here for sources that one shouldn't bring food in a bathroom lechathila, and that is for food without kdushat shviit!

Just one man's opinion so clearly check with someone who knows what he is speaking about :->

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