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Binding the Four Kinds

Binding the Four Kinds

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In order to beautify the mitzvah, we fasten together the lulav, hadassim and aravot (palm frond, myrtle branches and willow branches). For those who’ve never done it before, binding the lulav can be a bit tricky. In most cases, your Four Kinds vendor will do this for you.

Though technically one can bind them together with any material, the custom is to use lulav leaves—thus no foreign substance will separate between the Four Kinds and the hands of the person fulfilling the mitzvah.

A lulav-leaf holder.
A lulav-leaf holder.
There is no single universally followed way of tying the lulav. Different methods are employed in different communities.

In most communities, the three kinds are bound together by way of a special holder woven of lulav leaves, which slides up the bottom of the lulav and has pockets for the hadassim and aravot. This holder is then securely tied to the lulav with a strip of lulav leaf. The hadassim should be placed in the pocket to the right of the person holding the lulav (as he will be shaking it on Sukkot), and the aravot to the left. The thickish green exterior of the lulav’s spine should be facing the person.

Lulav-leaf rings.
Lulav-leaf rings.
It is customary to have three lulav-leaf ring ties around the lulav, symbolizing our three Patriarchs. As such, in addition to the ring with which the holder is fastened, (at least) another two rings are fastened around the lulav’s midsection.

Chabad Custom

Chabad custom is to bind the lulav on the day prior to the holiday, while in the sukkah.

In addition, Chabad custom is not to use the woven holders, but rather to tie the hadassim and aravot directly to the bottom of the lulav using three lulav-leaf strips (all bound within the span of one handbreadth):

A lulav bound according to Chabad tradition.
A lulav bound according to Chabad tradition.
One aravah (willow branch) is placed on the right of the lulav (meaning, to the right of the person holding the lulav, as above) and one on the left. Then, one hadas (myrtle) is placed on the right of the lulav and one on the left (somewhat covering the aravot), and a third hadas is placed in middle—a bit towards the right side. Once these are all in place, they are all bound together with the three lulav strips.

(Many have the custom of using more than three hadassim. In 1991, the Rebbe suggested that everyone use at least six hadassim. The extra hadassim are just added to the mix.)

Then, in addition to the three lulav ties that hold together the three species, another two ties are fastened higher up, around the midsection of the lulav itself—with the lower one covered, at least partially, by the hadassim and aravot.

Notes:

  1. It is important to ensure that the top of the hadassim and aravot end at least one handbreadth (approx. 3.2 inches) beneath the top of the lulav’s spine (i.e., beneath the point where the lulav leaves stop protruding from its sides), so to ensure ample “shaking” area on the lulav’s top. If the hadassim and aravot are too long, they can be trimmed from their bottoms, as long as they remain at least three handbreadths long.
  2. If the lulav has not been bound before the holiday, it should be bound on the first day of the holiday (or the second day, if the first falls on Shabbat), but via slipknots, not regular knots (as it is forbidden to tie a regular knot on the first two days of the holiday).
By Chabad.org Staff
Photos by Chana Lewis.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Delona September 27, 2015

number Is there a meaning in the number four? If it if,what is the purpose of the number? Reply

Anonymous Queens September 27, 2015

Illustrations/photos An illustrated step by step guide would be awesome! Reply

Menachem Posner September 23, 2013

To JJ It is kosher, but you should tie it together when you can. Reply

Robert M Grossmann Silver Spring, MD September 22, 2013

How do you make a ring from the Lulav branch? Reply

JJ London September 22, 2013

kosher if no bind? Is it kosher if the rings fall off and you hold it together? Reply

Robert M Grossmann September 17, 2013

Very informative. Reply

yonatan October 2, 2012

but how to make a lulav holder? Reply

Rabbi Menachem Posner September 30, 2012

To Julie: a. We do not tie a permanent knot on Shabbat or holidays as it is one of the 39 activities that were part of the creation of the Tabernacle and therefore forbidden on days of rest.

b. An oft-quoted midrash depicts the four kinds as representative of different categories of Jews. The etrog, which has a good taste along with a pleasant aroma, symbolizes the Jew who is brimming with Torah and maasim tovim [good deeds]. The lulav, which has a taste but no smell, typifies the Jew who is knowledgeable in Torah but deficient in maasim tovim. The hadas, which has a sweet aroma but lacks taste, corresponds to the Jew who excels in good deeds but is bereft of Torah knowledge. Lastly, the arava, which possesses neither taste nor smell, personifies the Jew who lacks both Torah and maasim tovim. Together they form one great nation. Reply

julie bath, uk September 30, 2012

why is it forbidden to tie a regular knot on the first 2 days of the holiday?
"If the lulav has not been bound before the holiday, it should be bound on the first day of the holiday (or the second day, if the first falls on Shabbat), but via slipknots, not regular knots (as it is forbidden to tie a regular knot on the first two days of the holiday)."
Also What do each of the four kinds represent? Reply

vinny manchester, GB/UK February 7, 2012

ties Can you not use velcro ties if I made the same style? Reply

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman September 21, 2010

Re: what is the reason for this custom? Quite simply, the halacha is that there must not be anything separating the 4 kinds from one another. Yes, the woven holder is of "the same kind"--but it nevertheless is not the actual palm that is being used.

It's understood, of course, that this is a "hiddur mitzvah"--an optimal consideration, and not a requirement. Those who use the woven holders are well within the requirements of the halacha. Reply

issac park slope, ny usa September 21, 2010

what is the reason for this custom? "In addition, Chabad custom is not to use the woven holders, but rather to tie the hadasim and aravot directly to the bottom of the lulav using three lulav-leaf strips (all bound within the span of one handbreadth):" if anyways the holder is also made out of lulav branches why not use it? Reply

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