8 Tishrei 5773
There are many vendors out there and sadly, this is no different that eating out from the perspective of being an alert kosher consumer. For those who are fine accepting the word of a salesman, that’s your call and far be it from me to tell you otherwise. For those who wish to be certain regarding the kosher integrity of their 4 minim, please read on.
If you wish to by a lulav, esrog, hadassim and aravos with a hashgacha, then the simple rules apply. If the product is in a sealed package, you know what you are getting from a kosher perspective. The box/bag is opened, there is no hashgacha. Then we revert back to trusting the vendor.
Alternatively, there are areas like Meah Shearim where a store will have a teudat hechsher from a hashgacha for selling the 4 minim. This will look like a regular kosher certificate and usually dated for a week to two, stating what items are covered (lulav, esrog, hadassim, arovos) or perhaps only some of the items. In such a store, one does not require sealed items because the entire store is under hashgacha.
I am not implying most/all vendors are dishonest, but sadly I know for a fact this is the case with some. What does occur at times I have learned is that well-intending religious teens/adults seeking to make some money go into business, buying a quantity of 4 minimum to resell in their area. Often, they do not know they are required to authenticate the origin of the 4 minim to make certain that they are not stolen for example, or that the esrogim are from a certified grower and not G-d forbid a mixed breeding situation that could pasul it.
So you see, it is not always about a vendor being dishonest, but at times, one could be naïve and well intended. I am sorry if this sounds harsh but this is the reality in a world in which some are willing to sell their share in the Next World for profit.
And, if all of the above checks out ask a competent rav to look it over for you since there are many halachos that pertain to these four items, which when held together are symbolic of united Am Yisrael.
The Badatz Eida Chareidis posted signs to warn shoppers regarding esrogim purchased in sealed boxes with its hechsher. The hashgacha explains that the kashrus certification is ONLY to verify the source of the esrog, guaranteeing it is not grafted and not orla.
The badatz DOES NOT inspect each individual esrog regarding its kashrus (black spots, holes & etc.). Therefore, one must determine the level of one’s esrog oneself or in consultation with one’s rav.