The Four Species on Succot


Why do we take the Four Species – palm branch, citron, myrtle, and willow – a.k.a. Lulav, Etrog, Hadas, and Arava on the holiday of Succot?

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  1. In addition to fulfilling a command of the Torah with the Four Species on Succot, the action, drama and pageantry of the mitzvah also convey important messages. Maimonides understands the Four Species as an expression of our gratitude to God for the Land of Israel. He writes, “The species represent the bounty of the Land of Israel; with them we express our gratitude to God for taking us from Egypt and blessing us with the beautiful and rich Land of Israel.”

    Another beautiful explanation is found in a source dating back to the times of the Mishna (170-200 C.E.). According to this explanation, taste symbolizes actions and scent symbolizes learning.

    The citron (etrog), which has taste and scent, symbolizes a Jew who actively performs mitzvahs as well as studies Torah.

    The palm branch (lulav) represents a Jew who fulfills mitzvahs but does not study.

    The myrtle (hadassim) symbolizes one who studies but does not fulfill mitzvahs.

    The willow (aravot) represents a Jew who neither does mitzvahs nor studies Torah.

    When we recite the blessing, all four plants, representing the four types of Jews, are bound and held together, an action that expresses the inherent unity of the Jewish people, and the importance of every individual. Every single Jew contributes toward the achievement of our nation’s goals, even if he or she appears to have no merit at all.

    Best wishes from the Team