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The Four Kinds: The Lulav and Etrog

The Four Kinds: The Lulav and Etrog

Expressing Our Unity

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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:

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.

Treat your set with TLC—they’re fragile goods! 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:

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, 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.

Chabad.org Staff
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Discussion (6)
September 29, 2013
4 different types of Jews
What are the four types of Jews that are symbolized by the four kinds.
Bob
ER
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 chabad.org
September 17, 2013
Why are the arba minim, the four species, so important? What do they represent?
Anonymous
Georgia
August 24, 2013
sukkot
I remember this from my childhood and from a friend's home in my old age. It was like visiting a old comfortable place.
Anonymous
University Place, Washington
chabadpiercecounty.com
October 3, 2012
Arab Minim
How do u discard of them?(Arab Minim) four kind.
Anonymous
Regina , Canada
September 17, 2012
Thanks!
This article was very helpful to me!
Anonymous
Victoria, BC