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The Four Kinds: The Lulav and Etrog

The Four Kinds: The Lulav and Etrog

Expressing Our Unity


Every day of Sukkot (except Shabbat) we take the arba minim, a.k.a. “Four Kinds.” Sukkot is a seven-day holiday starting on 15 Tishrei and concluding on 21 Tishrei.

What are the four kinds? A palm branch (lulav), two willows (aravot), a minimum of three myrtles (hadassim) and one citron (etrog). The first three kinds are neatly bundled together—your arba minim vendor can assemble it for you. Click here for a guide to binding the lulav.

Not all sets of arba minim on the market are kosher. Check with your rabbi. And treat your set with TLC—they’re fragile goods!

Arba minim is a man’s obligation. For women, it’s optional but encouraged. Best place for doing this mitzvah is the sukkah, the outdoor holiday booth.

Hold the lulav in your right hand (unless you’re a lefty), with its spine facing you. Face east and say:

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech ha-olam a-sher ki-de-sha-nu be-mitz-vo-tav ve-tzi-va-nu al netilat lulav.

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us regarding taking the lulav.

Pick up the etrog in your left hand.

[On the first day of Sukkot (or the first time on Sukkot you get to do this), at this point say:

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-yi-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.

Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion.]

Bring the lulav and etrog together—you’ve done the mitzvah!

Nevertheless, Treat your set with TLC—they’re fragile goods!the custom is to wave the arba minim in all six directions—south, north, east, up, down and west. Click here for an illustrated guide to shaking the Four Kinds.

Take along your arba minim to the synagogue for the morning services. We wave them again during the Hallel prayer, and then parade them around the synagogue during the Hosha’anot ceremony.

Jewish unity is one of the central themes of Sukkot. The four kinds you are holding symbolize four types of Jews, with differing levels of Torah knowledge and observance. Bringing them together represents our unity as a nation—despite our external differences. So in this spirit of unity, be sure to share your arba minim with your Jewish friends and neighbors!

Click here to purchase a set of arba minim.

Note: On the first two days of Sukkot, the mitzvah can be fulfilled only using one’s own Four Kinds. As such, if using someone else’s set, it needs to be given as “a present, conditional on its return.” You can then use the set—your set—and then you return it, as a gift, to its original owner.

By Staff
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Discussion (12)
October 16, 2016
This is incredibly helpful! Thank you very much for posting it! Have a joyous Sukkot!
October 7, 2016
thanks for that depth
and i had fun playing in the hebrew script! i am presently dislocated from my wonderful books and miss the hebrew so much. thanks to all who made that article such a success!!
October 23, 2015
To Tamara
For more on this topic, see this link and this one.
Rochel Chein for
September 12, 2015
Hi where can I find more insight on the symbolism of the spices=the four types of believers?
October 7, 2014
I love Mitzvah Minute
Hamon Mazal Tov!
Kol Hakavod to the author. I simply love Mitzvah Minute.
It is Judaism for Dummies.
The Very Best of all the Website.

Let it continue forever!
October 7, 2014
Printing of prayers
It would be useful to have a user-friendly version of the Hebrew prayers in which Hashem's name is not printed out formally. This way when we print the prayer we don't have to worry about proper disposal of a sheet bearing Hashem's formal name, Thanks.
New Jersey
September 29, 2013
4 different types of Jews
What are the four types of Jews that are symbolized by the four kinds.
September 18, 2013
The four species, with their various characteristics, represent different types of Jews. They are all brought together, signifying our unity as a nation, which is deeper than our differences. We wave the four species in all directions, symbolizing G-d's sovereignty over the entire world. See this link for more on this topic.
Rochel Chein for
September 17, 2013
Why are the arba minim, the four species, so important? What do they represent?
August 24, 2013
I remember this from my childhood and from a friend's home in my old age. It was like visiting a old comfortable place.
University Place, Washington
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