Succot: Despite everything – together!

Holding the four species together symbolizes the connection among all segments of the nation, despite it not always being overtly obvious.

By SHMUEL RABINOWITZ
September 19, 2013 22:07
2 minute read.
WOMEN OF the Wall say the ‘Shema’ near the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Women of the Wall say the ‘Shema’ near the Western Wall 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

The festival of Succot contains another commandment in addition to sitting in the succa: holding the four species – the lulav, etrog, hadas, and arava – on each day of the holiday (other than Shabbat) during the Shaharit morning services or afterward.

The Torah emphasizes that the mitzva of picking up the four species is not just to hold them in one’s hand, but to rejoice in them: “And you shall take for you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” (Leviticus 23:40) How does this mitzva bring about such great joy? This mitzva provides a nice clue, a hint that leads us to a positive outlook on all the different segments of the nation and to unity among the different parts of Am Yisrael.

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The etrog has a taste and a very good smell. It symbolizes those Jews who learn Torah and whose name precedes them for their good deeds.

The lulav – the fruit of the palm tree, the date – has an amazing taste but has no smell. It symbolizes those Jews who learn Torah but lack good deeds in the other areas of their lives.

The hadas – the myrtle branch – has a nice smell but has no taste. It symbolizes Jews who behave righteously and fairly with good deeds, but do not learn Torah regularly.

The arava – the willow branch – has neither taste nor smell. It symbolizes those Jews who neither learn Torah nor behave appropriately in other areas of their lives.

Holding the four species together symbolizes the connection among all segments of the nation, despite it not always being overtly obvious. When we take hold of the four species, we remember that despite our disagreements and the differences in our lifestyles, we are one inseparable nation. The entire nation, with all its sectors and parts, will eternally remain inextricably bound.

When we remember that we are all brothers, and that we aspire to reach full unity among all the sectors of our nation, this memory brings us great joy and hope that the day will come when we succeed in overcoming our differences and disputes, and we will succeed in seeing in one another only the merits inherent in each one of us.

Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz is rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites.


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