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Perfect Taking

Perfect Taking

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On the first day of Sukkot, when the obligation to take the four species is from the Torah, each item must be complete, and anything “missing” is disqualifying. In other words, the rule that “the majority is like the whole” does not apply. This law alludes to a special insight into spiritual service.

One thing especially prone to weaken a person in spiritual service is the opinion of the community, the majority. It is hard to swim against the current, to stand against the many, and to cling to principles the community does not recognize. After all, the Torah itself tells us to follow the majority opinion.

The law disqualifying only most of an etrog, a majority, teaches us, then, not always to follow the majority. When the Torah itself raises a question, certainly one can consult Torah scholars and decide the issue by majority rule. However, when the majority objects, Heaven forfend, to Torah-observance itself, one should not ascribe any significance at all to its opinion.

There is an additional lesson: Just as it is not sufficient to have most of an etrog or most of a lulav; they must be complete, so also with the Jewish people: It is not enough that most of the people are as they should be; rather, as long as even one Jew remains “outside,” there is a defect and a gap in the whole people, for all Jews comprise “one body.”

(Sichat Simchat Beit Hasho’eivah 5717)

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