Four Species


Four Species

The Four Species (Hebrew: ארבעת המינים, "Arba'at Ha-Minim", also called "Arba Minim") are three types of branches and one type of fruit which are held together and waved in a special ceremony during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The waving of the Four Species is a mitzvah prescribed by the Torah, and contains symbolic allusions to a Jew's service of God.

The Four Species are:

*Lulav (לולב) – a ripe, green, closed frond from a date palm tree
*Hadass (הדס) – boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree
*Aravah (ערבה) – branches with leaves from the willow tree
*Etrog (אתרוג) – the fruit of a citron tree

Practice

The mitzvah of waving the Four Species derives from the Torah. In Leviticus, it states: “"And you shall take for yourselves on the first day [of Sukkot] , the fruit of the beautiful [citron] tree, tightly bound branches of date palms, the branch of the braided [myrtle] tree, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days."” [] During the time of the Temple in Jerusalem, the waving ceremony (called "na'anu'im" – נענועים) was performed in the Holy Temple on all seven days of Sukkot, and elsewhere only on the first day. Following the destruction of the Temple, Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai ordered that the Four Species be waved everywhere on every day of Sukkot (except on Shabbat), as a memorial to the Temple.Fact|date=February 2007

To prepare the species for the mitzvah, the "lulav" is first bound together with the "hadass" and "aravah" (this bundle is also referred to as "the "lulav") in the following manner: One "lulav" is placed in the center, two "aravah" branches are placed to the left, and three "hadass" boughs are placed to the right. (This order is the same for both right-handed and left-handed people. [Mishnah Berurah 651:12 in the name of the Pri Megadim.] ) The bundle may be bound with strips from another palm frond, or be placed in a special holder which is also woven from palm fronds.

Sephardic Jews place one "aravah" to the right of the "lulav" and the second "aravah" to its left, and cover them with the three "hadass" boughs—one on the right, the second on the left, and the third atop the "lulav's" spine, leaning slightly to the right. The bundle is held together with rings made from strips of palm fronds. Many Hasidic Ashkenazi Jews follow this practice as well.

In all cases, all of the species must be placed in the direction in which they grew. (For the "etrog", this means that the stem end should be on the bottom and the blossom end on top; this is the direction in which the "etrog" begins to grow, though as it matures on the tree it usually hangs in the opposite direction.)

Reciting the blessing

To recite the blessing over the "lulav" and "etrog", the "lulav" is held in one hand and the "etrog" in the other. Right-handed users hold the "lulav" in the right hand and the "etrog" in the left. The customs for those who are left-handed differ for Ashkenazim and Sephardim. According to the Ashkenazi custom, the "lulav" is held in the left hand, and according to the Sephardi custom, in the right hand. [Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 651:3 and Rabbi Moses Isserles' commentary.]

According to Sephardi custom, the blessing is said while holding only the "lulav" and the "etrog" is picked up once the blessing is completed. According to Ashkenazi custom, before the blessing is said, the "etrog" is turned upside-down, opposite the direction in which it grows. The reason for these two customs is that the blessing must precede the performance of the mitzvah. Should all the species be held in the direction in which they grew, the mitzvah would be fulfilled before the blessing is recited.

After reciting the blessing, "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to take the lulav" (the "Shehecheyanu" blessing is also recited the first time each year that one waves the "lulav" and "etrog"), the "etrog" is turned right side up (or picked up), and the user brings his or her two hands together so that the "etrog" touches the "lulav" bundle. The Four Species are then pointed and gently shaken three times toward each of the four directions, plus up and down, to attest to God's mastery over all of creation.

The waving ceremony can be performed in the synagogue, or in the privacy of one's home or "sukkah", as long as it is daytime. Women and girls may also choose to perform the mitzvah of waving the "lulav" and "etrog", although they are not required by Halakha to do so. Because women are not required to perform this mitzva, some are of the opinion that Sephardi women do not need to recite the blessing. [http://dailyhalacha.com/Display.asp?ClipID=393]

The waving is performed again (though without the attendant blessings) during morning prayer services in the synagogue, at several points during the recital of Hallel.

Additionally, in the synagogue, Hallel is followed by a further ceremony, in which the worshippers join in a processional around the sanctuary with their Four Species, while reciting special supplications (called "hoshaanot", from the refrain "hosha na", "save us"). From the first through the sixth day of Sukkot, one complete circuit is made; on Hoshanah Rabbah, the seventh and last day of Sukkot, seven complete circuits are made. As the Four Species are not used on Shabbat, there are variant customs as to whether "hoshaanot" are said and a circuit made on that day.

electing the Four Species

While all mitzvot should be performed in the best manner possible, "hiddur mitzvah" (beautifying the mitzvah) especially applies to the Four Species. The halacha is explicit on what constitutes the "best" in each species. [Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 645-648.] To that end, people will spend large amounts of money to acquire the most perfect "etrog", the straightest "lulav", and the freshest "hadass" and "aravah". Usually a father will buy several sets of the Four Species to outfit his sons, as well.Another custom for hiddur mitzvah is to, depending on your custom of wrapping lulav and esrog, is to have more than two aravos and three haddasim. Some people have the custom to have as many as 40 extra haddassim and aravos.

"Hiddur mitzvah" applies to all mitzvot, but its absence does not impede the mitzvah from being performed. For the Four Species specifically, there is a further "technical" requirement of "hadar" (beauty), which does impede the mitzvah of the Four Species from being performed. Despite their similar names and details, these two requirements are distinct from one another. [http://www.vbm-torah.org/sukkot/suk63mt.htm]

ymbolism

Several explanations are offered as to why these particular species were chosen for the mitzvah. The Midrash [Vayikra Rabbah 30:12.] notes that the binding of the Four Species symbolizes our desire to unite the four "types" of Jews in service of God. An allusion is made to whether or not the species (or their fruits) have taste and/or smell, which correspond to Torah and good deeds. The symbolism is as follows:

*The "lulav" has taste but no smell, symbolizing those who study Torah but do not possess good deeds.
*The "hadass" has a good smell but no taste, symbolizing those who possess good deeds but do not study Torah.
*The "aravah" has neither taste nor smell, symbolizing those who lack both Torah and good deeds.
*The "etrog" has both a good taste and a good smell, symbolizing those who have both Torah and good deeds.

A second explanation [ibid. 30:14.] finds the four species alluding to parts of the human body. Each of the species or its leaves is similar in shape to the following organs:

*"Lulav" – the spine
*"Hadass" – the eye
*"Aravah" – the mouth
*"Etrog" – the heart

By binding them together for a mitzvah, the Jew shows his desire to consecrate his entire being to service of God.

An additional reason for waving the Four Species in all directions alludes to the fact that all these species require much water to grow. The "lulav" (date palm) grows in watered valleys, "hadass" and "aravah" grow near water sources, and the "etrog" requires more water than other fruit trees. By taking these particular species and waving them in all directions, the Jew symbolically voices a prayer for abundant rainfall for all the vegetation of the earth in the coming year.

Other interpretations

The mitzvah is derived from the Book of Leviticus: "And you shall take for yourself on the first day the fruit of goodly (meaning of Hebrew uncertain, but modern Hebrew "citrus") trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook" (Lev. 23:40). The use to which these species are to be put is not indicated; this gave rise to divergent interpretations at a later time. Two breakaway sects, the Sadducees and the Karaites, maintained that they were meant for building the "sukkah", as would appear from Neh. 8:14-18, while their opponents contended that they were to be carried in the synagogue procession.

Bibliography

*Kitov, Eliyahu (1978). "The Book of Our Heritage". Jerusalem: Feldheim Publishers. ISBN 0-87306-152-7.

External links

* [http://www.4minim.com/ 4 species information] 4minim.com
* [http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template.asp?AID=4852 Customs relating to the four species] chabad.org
* [http://www.chabad.org/4489 Diagrams of the Four Species]
* [http://www.askmoses.com/qa_list.html?h=198 The Four Species] askmoses.com
* [http://www.shiur.com/index.php?id=C0_227_6&spar=227&s_id=227 Sukkot & The Four Species] Shiur.com

References


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