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The 4 species

 

"And you shall take on the first day a beautiful fruit of a tree, a date palm frond, and an intertwined branchand and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Allmighty your G-d, seven days" Leviticus 23:40
The Torah commands us to take the lulav and esrog on Succot. When speaking of the lulav and esrog we refer to the four species of plants mentioned in the Torah; the lulav, an unopened date-palm frond; hadassim, myrtle branches, aravos, willow branches; and an esrog, the fruit of the citron tree.
The Citron Fruit - ESROG
  • Should preferably be turning yellow rather than strong green.
  • It should not be pierced in any place. (although essentially as long as no part is actually missing it is still Kosher for the Mitzva)
  • It should not have any black spots that are visible to the eye if held at arms length.
  • esrogim are "Pasul"(non kosher for succos use)if the "Psul" is on more thanhalf the surface of the Esrog, is in more than 3 places or is on the "Chotem" or top part if it is seen by the naked eye
  • The minimum size should be the volume of an egg -100cc
  • The shape should preferably be like a tower - wider at the bottom and narrow at the top.

  • If this particular Esrog grew with a protruding stem (called a pitom), then that stem cannot be broken off. However, if the Esrog grew in the first place without a pitom, it is still kosher.
   

The Palm Frond-LULAV

  • Look at the very top of the branch and make sure that the center-most leaf is not split, but rather is closed (at least half-way down).
  • The top cannot be cut off.
  • The branch cannot be dried out.
  • It should be at least 16 inches (39 cm.) long.
  • The straighter the branch, the better.

   
The Myrtle Branches-HADASSIM

  • You will need three myrtle branches.
  • A kosher myrtle has a pattern of three leaves coming out from the same point in the branch. This three-leaf pattern must be repeated over at least half the length of the branch.
  • Each branch should be at least 11 inches (29 cm.) long.
  • The branch cannot be dried out.
   

The Willow branches-ARAVOS

  • You will need two willow branches.
  • The stem should preferably be red.
  • The stem should be at least 11 inches (29 cm.) long.
  • The leaves should be oblong, not round in shape.
  • The leaves should have a smooth edge, not serrated.
The laws mentioned here are wheather the species conform to the laws rendering them kosher, there is however a law of "Hidur mizva" (beautifiying the motzva) and because of this Jews worldwide go to great lenghths and expense to purchase themselves the best they can afford.
"You shall take... the beautiful fruit (Esrog), a palm frond (Lulav), myrtle twigs and willow branches of the stream -- and rejoice for seven days before the Lord your God." Leviticus 23:40

On Sukkot, we bind all the branches together -- two willows on the left, one palm branch in the center, and three myrtles on the right. We hold this bundle in our right hand, and then lift them together with the Esrog. We then shake them all together

 

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