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Why don't we shake the Four Species on Shabbat?

by Rabbi Herschel Finman

  

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The reason why we do not shake the Lulav, read the Megillah or blow Shofar on Shabbat is one. Rabbah, third century Talmudic scholar, explained the reason for this rabbinic decree: Everyone wanted to do these mitzvahs, but not everyone knew how. Fearing that someone might inadvertently carry a megillah, shofar or lulav to the rabbi’s house to receive instruction on how to properly fulfill these mitzvahs – and thus transgress the prohibition of carrying in the public domain on Shabbat – he decreed against performing these mitzvahs when the respective holiday falls on Shabbat.1

Shabbat, he explains, is so great that it is able to draw down these effects automatically. It is not necessary to shake the lulav on Shabbat as its effect would be redundant
The question is asked: How could the sages take away these mitzvahs based on a fear of what an ignorant person might do? The Rebbe Rashab, fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, explains that when one performs a Mitzvah, a certain G-dly effect is drawn into the world. Shabbat, he explains, is so great that it is able to draw down these effects automatically. It is not necessary to shake the lulav on Shabbat as its effect would be redundant.

Footnotes

  • 1. Talmud, Rosh Hashanah 29b.

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Holidays » Sukkot » Four Species
Holidays » Purim » The Laws
Holidays » Rosh Hashanah » Shofar

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Shofar
The horn of a Kosher animal. The Shofar is sounded on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and is intended to awaken us to repentance. Also blown to signify the conclusion of the Yom Kippur holiday.
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Megillah
A scroll. Usually a reference to the Book of Esther, one of the books of the "Written Torah", which is read--from a scroll--on the holiday of Purim.
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.