This letter was sent to R. Yitzchak Tzvi Lieberman.

B”H, 3 Iyar, 5710

Greetings and blessings,

In response to your letter: For the four species [of the Sukkos holiday], it is the custom of Chabad chassidim to use esrogim that grow in Southern Italy1 that are called [either] Calabria [esrogim] because of the place where they grow or Yanover2 [esrogim] because of the port from which they would be shipped in previous generations. In the later years, [the chassidim] would purchase them from the Karao brothers in Genoa. My revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ, would recite the blessing on an esrog [from this region].

See the responsa of Chasam Sofer (Orach Chayim, sec.207); Shaar HaCollel (by R. Avraham David Lavut) to [the Alter Rebbe’s] Siddur, sec. 37; S’dei Chemed, Asifas Dinim, Maareches Esrog, K’lalim, Maareches Lulav U’Minav.

Regarding the esrogim of Calabria — called “Greek Italy” by our Sages — it is worthy to note the interpretation of the verse3 “May your dwelling be of the fat places of the earth” in Bereishis Rabbah (67:6) as referring to “Greek Italy.” (This is also the version [cited] in Rashi’s commentary to that verse.) See [also the interpretation by] Rambam, the conclusion of Hilchos Issurei Mizbei’ach, [of the verse]4 “All of the fat should be [given] to G‑d.” [And note] the mishnah, Bikkurim 1:3: “[Bikkurim] are not brought... from the fruits from the valleys.”5

I heard many times from my revered father-in-law, the Rebbe, הכ"מ, that a meeting between two Jews should lead to the enhancement of the Torah and its mitzvos. Even though the above concepts are also elements of the Torah and its mitzvos, all of these points could have been clarified from the members of the chassidic brotherhood in your community. Therefore it is my hope that this exchange of letters will have a positive effect [and motivate you] to add a study session in the teachings of Chabad [Chassidus], further involvement in seeking out the welfare of others, and the like. I would appreciate if you would inform me of good news with regard to the above.

With blessings and wishes for all forms of good,

Rabbi Menachem Schneerson