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The Complete Consumer’s Buying Guide for Lulav and Etrog

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Holidays » Sukkot » Four Species | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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The buying season for the Four Species (the Lulav, Etrog, haddasim, and aravot) is in full swing. Many of you will be purchasing your “Lulav Set” from your local rabbi, in which case he will ensure that you receive a quality, Kosher set. However, for the adventuresome folks amongst you who wish to venture alone into the uncharted waters of the Four Species market, we will offer some basic guidelines and tips which will allow you to be a relatively knowledgeable consumer.
General Information:

– The Torah commands us to take a “beautiful fruit [Etrog].” Through Talmudic methodology, the Sages deduced that the requirement of obtaining a beautiful fruit applies to the other three species as well. Therefore, while we will be discussing various issues which can invalidate the Four Species, it is also important to choose specimens which are fresh and aesthetically pleasing. “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” so no two people will share the exact same taste when choosing their Four Species.

“Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” so no two people will share the exact same taste when choosing their Four Species
– It is of utmost importance to purchase your Four Species from a trustworthy, G-d fearing vendor, and that the etrog is rabbinically certified. An etrog which is harvested from an etrog tree which was grafted together with another species – a practice which is unfortunately common, as the product of such a tree is quite beautiful – is invalid. An etrog which is rabbinically certified comes from a tree which was inspected to ascertain that it is “purebred.”
For this reason, many people prefer to use an etrog which comes from the Italian province of Calabria (known as “Yanover” etrogim). The orchards in this region have been providing etrogim for centuries and are known to be of untainted pedigree.


The Lulav (Palm Branch)

– The lulav’s leaves are naturally doubled, with the two halves of each leaf folded over and connected to each other. The middle leaf on the very top of the lulav is quite crucial, for if it is significantly divided then the entire lulav is invalid. If, however, it is only slightly divided it is still kosher—but ideally you should try to purchase a lulav whose middle leaf is complete.


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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Kosher
Literally means "fit." Commonly used to describe foods which are permitted by Jewish dietary laws, but is also used to describe religious articles (such as a Torah scroll or Sukkah) which meet the requirements of Jewish law.
Etrog
A citron; a greenish-yellow citrus fruit. We are required to take an Etrog on the holiday of Sukkot and shake it together with a palm branch, a myrtle and a willow.
Lulav
A palm branch. One of the Four Species we are required to take on the holiday of Sukkot. We shake it together with a citron, myrtle, and willow.
Four Species
There is a Biblical command to take "Four Species" on the autumn holiday of Sukkot. These species are: palm branch, citron, myrtle and willow. It is customary to shake these species to all directions.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.