Sunday, September 30, 2012

SPECIAL EDITION for Sukkot: The Fantastic Four

"And, you shall take on the first day (of Sukkot) a fruit of a citric tree (etrog), branches of palm trees (lulab), a branch of myrtle (hadas) and willows of the brook ('araba), and you shall rejoice before HaShem, your God, for seven days". (Vayiqra 23).

√ We are commanded to take four species during the seven days of Sukkot. One lulab, one etrog, two 'arabot, and three hadasim are taken together each time.
√ Two blessings are said the first day, 'al netilat lulab andshehecheyanu. One berakha,'al netilat lulab, is said during the other six days.
√ The four species are not taken on Shabbat, even when the first day falls on Shabbat. This Mitzva is perfomrmed during the day but not at night.
√ On the first day of Sukkot, a person must be careful to take and recite the blessing over his own lulab and etrog. During the other six days the species can be borrowed from somebody else.
√ The etrog or Citron resembles in its shape the heart, the driving force behind all our actions. The lulab, a palm branch, resembles the spine, which holds the body together allows us to be able to move. The hadas - myrtle branches - resemble in their shape the eyes, with which we behold God's world. And the 'arabot, the willow branches, resemble the lips with which we give expression to our thoughts and feelings.
√ The Sephardic custom is not to 'shake' (rattle) the lulab (= in this context "lulab" means: the whole set of the four species) but to 'move it' (lena'anea') toward six different directions.
√ We take all of them together and we move them south, north, east and west, up and down, symbolizing our commitment in body, mind and hearth to follow God's commandments. Our commitment to HaShem is represented by signaling His Omnipresence in every corner of the world. 

√ We hold the lulab, the hadasim, and 'arabot in our right hand and the etrog in our left hand to perform the Mitzva of netilat lulab. The four species must be held in the direction they grow on the tree.

√ Since every Mitzva has to be performed after we say the blessing some people hold the Etrog upside down and turn it back after the blessing, otherwise the berakha will be said after the Mitzva is performed. Others hold the etrog in their left hand only after they said the berakha.

√ Women are formally exempted from the Mitzva of lulab. The tradition in most communities, however, is for women to take the lulab. Rabbis are divided on the issue of women reciting the berakha. In general, Sephardic Rabbis would oppose to the recitation of this berakha by women and Ashkenazi Rabbis would approve. Each person should follow his or her family's traditions.

√ For information about Minyanim, community activities, and times for the Holidays see Kanissa news