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What are the Four Species?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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


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The Four Species are three types of branches and one type of fruit which are held together and waved on the festival of Sukkot to fulfill the Mitzvah:

"And you shall take for yourselves on the first day [of Sukkot], the fruit of the citron tree, the branches of date palms, twigs of a braided tree [myrtle], and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the L-rd your G-d for a seven day period." - Leviticus 23:40

The Four Species are:

Lulav: a large center branch of a date palm that is green and closed.
Etrog: the fruit of a ctiron tree.
Hadassim: at least three branches with leaves from a myrtle tree.
Aravot: two branches with leaves from a willow tree.

The Hadassim and Aravot are bound to the Lulav, while the Etrog is merely brought together with the other kinds when performing the Mitzvah.

Originally, the Four Species were taken only on the first day of the holiday, and the next six days they were used only in the Holy Temple (thus fulfilling the end of the verse – “rejoice before the L-rd your G-d for a seven day period”).

After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Talmudic sage Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai instituted that everyone take the Four Species on every day of Sukkot, to commemorate the Temple service.

The Four Species are also waved during the recital of Hallel.

See also "How and when do I use my Lulav set?"

TAGS: Etrog, Lulav, esrog

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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Hallel
Hebrew word meaning "praise." Normally is a reference to Psalms 113-118-- Psalms of jubilation which are recited during the morning prayers of all joyous holidays.
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.
Leviticus
The third of the Five Books of Moses. This book deals with the service (of the Levite Tribe) in the Tabernacle, and contains many of the 613 commandments.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
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.