Halacha for Monday 17 Tishrei 5781 October 5 2020

Some Laws Regarding the Four Species

Taking the Lulav
During the holiday of Sukkot, following the Chazzan’s repetition of the Shacharit prayer, the Lulav (palm branch), along with the Hadassim (myrtle branches) and Aravot (willow branches) which are bound to it, is taken. Before doing so, one should recite the following blessing, “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Kideshanu Bemitzvotav Vetzivanu Al Netilat Lulav” (on the first day of Sukkot, the “Shehecheyanu” blessing is recited at this point as well), after which one picks up the Etrog (citron) as well and adjoins it to the Lulav. One should wave the Lulav towards the four directions of the world as well as up and down by waving it outwards, inwards, up, and down, as is customary.

Taking the Lulav on Shabbat
One may not move the Lulav and its species on Shabbat as they are Muktzeh, for the Lulav is not taken on Shabbat. Additionally, the Hosha’anot prayers recited while circling the Tevah are omitted entirely on Shabbat.

Circling the Tevah
After Hallel is recited, a Sefer Torah is removed from the Ark and placed on the Tevah (podium in the center of the synagogue) after which the entire congregation proceeds to circle the Tevah with the Four Species. This is based on the Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni, Tehillim, Section 703) which states: “‘I shall wash my palms with cleanliness and encircle Your Alter, Hashem,’ Every day [of the Sukkot holiday] they would circle the Altar. What was the order of encircling the Altar? All of Israel would take their Lulavs in their right hand and their Etrogs in their left hand and encircle it. In our times, the Chazzan of the synagogue stands like an angel of Hashem with a Sefer Torah in his arms and the congregation encircles him similar to the encircling of the Alter.” Similarly, the Tur and Shulchan Aruch write that the encircling we do is reminiscent of the encircling of the Altar in the Holy Temple once every day of Sukkot and seven times on the seventh day.

One Praying at Home
Rabbeinu Yosef Haim zt”l writes that one who is ill and cannot participate in the circling of the Tevah with the congregation in the synagogue should place a table or chair in the middle of the room and place a Sefer Tanach or Chumash on it and proceed to encircle it so as not to miss out on these encirclements.

Education Youngsters Regarding the Mitzvah of Lulav
The Gemara (Sukkah 42a) states that if a young child knows how to wave the Lulav, his father must educate him regarding the Mitzvah of Lulav. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that if the father can afford it, he should purchase his son his own personal Lulav and not suffice by merely giving the child his own to wave, for if he does so, the son will stay without a Lulav while encircling the Tevah as the father must use his own Lulav during the encirclements. Thus, the father should buy his son his own set of the Four Species so that he may educate him about this precious Mitzvah during the time of the encirclements as well.

A Grafted Etrog
It is well-known that most of the Etrogim present nowadays are grafted ones. Every community has a tradition about which kind of Etrogim are assumed to be non-grafted. In previous years, the Sephardic communities of Jerusalem would purchase their Etrogim from the Arab village of Um-el-Fahem, for the Etrogim there were strongly assumed to be non-grafted.(Indeed, this was the practice of Maran zt”l in his youth. When serving as head of Egypt’s rabbinical court, a miracle occurred and he received kosher and beautiful Etrogim from Israel although the borders between Israel and Egypt were closed off as is recorded in the biography on Maran zt”l,Abir Ha’Ro’im”.) Somewhat later, approximately seventy years ago, Etrog saplings were brought from Yemen to Israel and were planted there by the new Yemenite-Jewish immigrants.  These Etrogim have an especially strong pedigree and are known to be completely non-grafted and it is proper to purchase only this kind of Etrog. Indeed, all Sephardic luminaries specifically purchase a Yemenite Etrog to fulfill the Mitzvah. In our times, such Etrogim that are indeed beautiful are readily available at a cost that is not as prohibitive as previous years.

Some Moroccan immigrants customarily purchase Moroccan Etrogim, which contain no seeds and whose appearance is truly beautiful. These Etrogim should also be purchased only when trustworthy witnesses and a reliable Kashrut organization vouch for the non-grafted status of these Etrogim, for some claim that certain possibly grafted Etrogim have surfaced among them. One should also be careful as to the validity of the Etrog, for sometimes, the extremely low price of an Etrog can be an indication of a Kashrut issue, even if is labeled as “Beautiful”.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Megillah Reading- Coronavirus

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor- Coronavirus

“Remember What Amalek Has Done to You” On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Vayikra this year, 577......

Read Halacha

Matanot La’Evyonim- Coronavirus

In the previous Halacha we briefly discussed the Mitzvah of “Matanot La’Evyonim” on Purim day which is the distribution of two monetary gifts, one to each pauper. What Must One Give? In order to fulfill this Mitzvah, one need not give actual gifts; rather, it is permissible to ......

Read Halacha

The Days of Purim and the Laws of Mishloach Manot- 5781

The Days of Purim Purim will be celebrated in approximately two weeks from today. This year, we must discuss several unique laws, first of all, because Purim day (the 14th of Adar) falls out on a Friday. Second of all, in Jerusalem, a “three-day Purim” will be celebrated since the 15th ......

Read Halacha


The Mitzvah of the Purim Feast This Year (5781)

Holding the Purim Feast at Night The holiday of Purim is different than all other holidays we celebrate in that whereas regarding other holidays the Mitzvah of partaking of a joyous holiday meal applies during the day and night, regarding the holiday of Purim, there is only a Mitzvah to hold a feas......

Read Halacha

 A Joint Mishloach Manot by Husband and Wife

Question: On Purim I stay home and I do not give out my own Mishloach Manot. May I fulfill my obligation by sending a joint Mishloach Manot along with my husband? Answer: First, let us discuss the obligation of women with regards to Mishloach Manot. A Woman’s Obligation in Mishloach Mano......

Read Halacha

The Mitzvah of Joy and Torah Learning on Purim Day

There is a Mitzvah eat heartily during the Purim Feast. One should preferably eat bread during this meal. The Rambam (Chapter 2 of Hilchot Megillah, Halacha 15) writes: “What is the extent of one’s obligation during this feast? One should eat meat and prepare a delicious meal to the b......

Read Halacha

Sucking On a Fruit

Question: If one sucks on an orange or a grapefruit but does not chew it with one’s teeth, must one recite the “Boreh Peri Ha’etz” like on other fruits or should one recite the “Shehakol” blessing like one would when drinking other fruit juices? Answer: Indeed,......

Read Halacha