In the Summer of 1974, the Rov learned Massekhet Keritot during his six week Summer shi'ur.
As my havrusa and I reached the end of the first pereq, he started getting all excited and announced (not a little sarcastically): 'This is the Jewish Studies Mishnah!' At the time I was not really into academic Jewish Studies (or the polemics it engendered, especially at YU), so I didn't have a clue what he was talking about. So, for better or for worse I put down my Brigham's Ice Cream Soda and asked him what he meant.
The cognoscenti will no doubt realize that he was referring to the Mishnah (1, 7) that describes how Rabban Gamliel managed to knock the bottom out of the price of bird-sacrifices when the price had gotten outrageous. This Mishnah has been cited (both appropriately and inappropriately) to show that Hazal were sensitive to the economic needs of the times. (IOW, he was sort of a modern day, previous Gerrer Rebbe).
Anyway, I've been thinking about this while the papers have been reporting the imminent lack of Lulavim, which may be partially alleviated as of this morning (This is thanks to our charming Egyptian friends. Why can't we grow these ourselves and the hell with El Arish?)
So what's my point? People can't afford NIS160 x child for a basic set of Arba'ah Minim (never mind the Hiddur people. Of course, I always like to quote an Essrog merchant who told me, in all candor, that 'there is no such thing as a $200 Essrog, only a $200 customer). Why haven't our feckless rabbinical leaders come out and a) announced that no one should buy more than one set per family or b) shuls should pool their resources and buy for the community (like we did in the Old Country- atopic I think I'd like to write about someday)? While I support the need of merchants to make a living, there is a certain amount of responsibility that comes with trading in ritual items. Certainly Rabban Gamliel would have been very upset to learn about the 'single importer, who has managed to corner the local market, is set to charge five times the normal wholesale price for the palm fronds used on Succot.'
Mais ou sont les neiges d'antan?