A Lulav and Etrog blessing guide

A Lulav and Etrog blessing guide

Succot is just around the corner and you bought the most exclusive Four Species, but what now? How do you hold them together? What prayer do you say on the Lulav? Let us explain all the steps here.

step 1
The Four Species include one Etrog, one Lulav, three Hadasim (myrtle branches) and two Aravot (willow branches). Forאתרוג עם פיתם generations people have held the Lulav, Hadas and Arava in the right hand and the Etrog in the left. This custom has a few reasons. Holding the Four Species is much easier this way. None of the species get ruined and it’s the finest way to hold them with each one standing on its own yet all close together.

What’s interesting is that the species can only be tied together with certain materials. For example, a string made from flax cannot be used to tie them together because it’s a different type of plant and the Torah commands four species and no more.

So how do we solve that problem? Some people tie the branches together with a plastic string or a rubber band that isn’t made from plants. Others use a koishalach.

So what is a koishalach? It’s a V shaped holder woven from dried palm leaves. It’s supposed to come with the Lulav when you purchase it. On the right side you insert the Hadasim, in the middle you place the Lulav and on the left side you insert the Aravot. Now that you have completed your set, you can hold it comfortably. If the set is too big, you can tie it together in certain places and adjust its size to fit your Lulav.

We recommend keeping your Lulav tightly bound, not allowing any separation between the leaves. Some people put on rubber bands or palm leaf rings to keep it closed. You can request the latter from the Lulav vendors.

Now, all you need to do is put the set in its case, if you have one, zip it up and take it with you to your synagogue.

Step 2- Blessing the Four Species in the synagogue
לולבים בשוק ארבעת מינים
by Andrei Zalmanovich

Succot is a seven day holiday and every day, except for Shabbat, we bless the Four Species during the Shacharit (morning) service. It is the usual morning service with Hallel, Hoshanot and a special Succot Torah reading added. We don’t touch the Four Species until we say Hallel. Take the Lulav set out of its case and hold it in the right hand with the branches facing up the way they grow. The Etrog is held in the left hand close to the Lulav. The Etrog is held with the pitam (point) facedown. The reason we hold it upside down is because this is a commandment where you bless first and then do the actual mizvah act. If we hold the Etrog right side up from the beginning, it will appear that we already did the mitzvah before we actually say the blessing.

Now we stand facing east and say the blessing:

“ברוך אתה ה’ אלו-הינו מלך העולם אשר קידשנו במצוותיו וציוונו על נטילת לולב”

On the first day of Sukkot we recite the shehechianu prayer as well:

“ברוך אתה ה’ אלו-הינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה”

After reciting the prayer we turn the Etrog right side up..

Step 3
After the blessing, we shake the Four Species to the six directions: south-north-east-up-down-west. In each direction, we shake them three times. During the Hallel we shake them all again. The first time is when we recite “Hodu lehashem ki tov” and afterwards we shake it twice at two verses where it says “Ana hashem hoshiya na”. Later in the service, when we say Hoshanot, we walk around the synagogue with the Lulav and Etrog and on Hoshanna Raba (last of the intermediate days), we walk around the synagogue seven times.

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