1

The term "the frond of the date palm" employed by the Torah refers to the branches of a date palm as they sprout, before their leaves separate and spread out in various directions. Rather, they should appear as a scepter. This is called a lulav.

א

כפות תמרים האמורות בתורה הן חריות של דקל כשיצמחו קודם שיתפרדו העלין שלהן לכאן ולכאן אלא כשיהיה כמו שרביט והוא הנקרא לולב:

The term "the frond of the date palm" employed by the Torah - Leviticus 23:40.

refers to the branches of a date palm - The Tzafenat Paneach questions whether or not the tree from which the lulav is taken must actually produce dates.

as they sprout, before their leaves separate - Thus, if the leaves spread out and were later bound together by human activity, it is not acceptable (Ramah, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 645:2).

and spread out in various directions. - Periodically, the date palm sprouts forth new branches. Initially they are closed, and as time passes they spread out to a fanlike shape. The Torah requires that they be used for the lulav while they are still in their initial state.

This obligation is derived from the fact that the Torah spells the word כפת, without a ו, implying that the date branch should appear to be a single entity (Sukkah 32a).

There is a homiletic aspect to using the lulav while its leaves are closed. Vayikra Rabbah 30:12 emphasizes how the mitzvah of lulav and etrog expresses the unity and oneness which pervade the Jewish people. Not only is this unity expressed by the combination of the four species into a single mitzvah, it is reflected in each of the species themselves. Thus, the lulav is used while its leaves are together as one, before they separate into distinct entities.

Rather, they should appear as a scepter. - Here, too, our Sages have emphasized the homiletic lesson to be derived from this shape. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are days of judgement. The lulav can be considered as the Jews' scepter of victory, acknowledging that they have prevailed (Medrash Tanchumah, Emor).

This is called a lulav.

2

The "fruit of the beautiful tree" mentioned in the Torah is the etrog.

The "boughs of covered trees" mentioned in the Torah refer to the [species of] myrtle whose leaves surround its branch; i.e., there will be three or more leaves in each ring. However, if there are two leaves on one level, with a third leaf slightly higher than them, that is not considered to be "covered." Rather, it is called a wild myrtle.

ב

פרי עץ הדר האמור בתורה הוא אתרוג. וענף עץ עבות האמור בתורה הוא ההדס שעליו חופין את עצו. כגון שיהיו שלשה עלין או יתר על כן בגבעול אחד. אבל אם היו שני העלין בשוה זה כנגד זה והעלה השלישי למעלה מהן אין זה עבות אבל נקרא הדס שוטה:

The "fruit of the beautiful tree" mentioned in the Torah - Leviticus, ibid.

is the etrog. - Sukkah 35a explains that this term is used to refer to the etrog because of a unique quality possessed by this fruit. The taste of the tree itself resembles the taste of the fruit. Alternatively, the word הדר can be interpreted to mean "which dwells," and thus refer to the etrog, which can grow on the tree for an entire year.

The "boughs of covered trees" mentioned in the Torah - Leviticus, ibid.

refer to the [species of] myrtle whose leaves surround its branch; - thus, covering the branch

i.e., there will be three or more leaves in each ring - on the same level.

Our translation follows the interpretation of the Maggid Mishneh, who requires that the three leaves be on the same level over the entire length of the myrtle. However, other opinions interpret the Rambam's words to mean that a myrtle may be used if the leaves of merely one ring are on the same level. The Kessef Mishneh (and similarly, the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 646:5) maintain that a myrtle is kosher if the leaves grow properly over three handbreadths (its minimum size), or at least the majority of that distance.

However, if there are two leaves on one level, with a third leaf slightly higher than them, that is not considered to be "covered." - but rather from a different species of tree. Hence, it can never be used in the lulav (Or Sameach).

Rather, it is called a wild myrtle - since its leaves do not grow in the normal pattern.

3

The term "willows of the brook" mentioned by the Torah does not include just any plant that grows by a brook, but rather a particular species, which is called the "willows of the brook."

Its leaf is extended as a brook, its edge is smooth, and its stem is red. It is called a willow. The majority of this species grow near brooks. Therefore, it is called the "willows of the brook." Even if this species grew in the desert or on a mountain, it would be kosher.

ג

ערבי נחל האמורות בתורה אינן כל דבר הגדל על הנחל אלא מין ידוע הוא הנקרא ערבי נחל. עלה שלו משוך כנחל ופיו חלק וקנה שלו אדום וזה הוא הנקרא ערבה. ורוב מין זה גדל על הנחלים לכך נאמר ערבי נחל. ואפילו היה גדל במדבר או בהרים כשר:

The term "willows of the brook" mentioned by the Torah - Leviticus, ibid.

does not include just any plant that grows by a brook, but rather a particular species, which is called the "willows of the brook." - That species is defined as follows:

Its leaf is extended as a brook - i.e., it comes to a point, rather than being rounded (Sukkah 33b).

This characteristic is also quoted as an explanation of the name "willows of the brook" (Rabbenu Asher).

its edge is smooth - rather than jagged (Sukkah ibid.).

and its stem is red. It is called a willow. The majority of this species grow near brooks. Therefore, it is called the "willows of the brook." - However, the use of that name is not meant to be exclusive...

Even if this species grew in the desert or on a mountain, it would be kosher - for the fulfillment of this mitzvah.

4

There is another species which resembles the willow. However, its leaf is rounded, its edge resembles a saw, and its stem is not red. This is called a tzaftzefah. It is unfit [to be used for the mitzvah].

There is another type of willow, whose leaf does not have a smooth edge, but it is not like a saw. Rather, it has tiny juttings, like the edge of a small sickle. It is kosher.

All the above definitions were explained according to the oral tradition transmitted by Moses, our teacher.

ד

ויש מין אחר דומה לערבה אלא שעלה שלו עגול ופיו דומה למסר וקנה שלו אינו אדום וזהו הנקרא צפצפה והיא פסולה. ויש שם מין ערבה שאין פי העלה שלה חלק ואינו כמסר אלא יש בו תלמים קטנים עד מאד כמו פי מגל קטן וזה כשר. וכל הדברים האלו מפי השמועה ממשה רבינו נתפרשו:

There is another species which resembles the willow. However, its leaf is rounded, its edge resembles a saw - i.e., its edge is very jagged, with large protrusions

and its stem is not red - but white (Sukkah 34a).

This is called a tzaftzefah. It is unfit [to be used for the mitzvah] - for it is not considered to be merely a different type of willow, but rather another species entirely.

There is another type of willow, whose leaf - is also extended

does not have a smooth edge, but it is not like a saw. Rather, it has tiny juttings, like the edge of a small sickle. It is kosher. - The Mishnah Berurah 647:6 mentions that willows are frequently picked by young children who are not learned and may mistake a non-kosher species for a kosher one. Hence, the purchaser should carefully examine the willows before purchasing them.

All the above definitions were explained according to the oral tradition transmitted by Moses, our teacher. - Indeed, in his introduction to his Commentary on the Mishnah, the Rambam uses the definitions of the four species as examples of how the oral tradition is explained in the Talmud:

The explanations which we have received from Moses are not contested at all. Throughout all the ages, from Moses' time until the present, we have not heard of a dispute started by a Sage whether... the expression "a fruit from a beautiful tree" refers to the etrog. Nor have we heard of a dispute that the "covered tree" refers to the myrtle...

Concerning these and the like, it has been said: "The entire Torah, [both the mitzvot] in general, and all their particulars were given to Moses on Mount Sinai." Though the tradition was received and there is no dispute about it, one can also derive these definitions through the accepted processes of exegesis.

Thus, when the Talmud debates and discusses a concept and offers a suggestion...that perhaps, "the fruit of the beautiful tree" is a pomegranate...[and does not resolve the matter] until they bring proof from the exegesis of the verse..., one should not conclude that the matter was left in doubt until this point of exegesis was discovered.

Rather, from the time of Joshua onward, we saw that the etrog was the species taken with the lulav and there is no debate about that. They were merely investigating how they could find support from the Torah for the interpretation that had been transmitted.

5

These four species are considered to be one mitzvah, and each one is required for its performance. All of them [together] are called the mitzvah of lulav. One may not diminish them or add to them. If one of the species cannot be found, a similar species may not be substituted for it.

ה

ארבעה מינין אלו מצוה אחת הן ומעכבין זה את זה וכולן נקראים מצות לולב. ואין פוחתין מהן ואין מוסיפין עליהן. ואם לא נמצא אחד מהן אין מביאים תחתיו מין אחר הדומה לו:

These four species are considered to be one mitzvah - In contrast to putting on the head tefillin and the arm tefillin, which are considered to be two mitzvot. Here, taking all four species is considered to be a single mitzvah...

and - therefore,...

each one - of the species...

is required for its performance - and only then is the mitzvah performed. Nevertheless, as explained in Halachah 6, the species need not be bound together; it is sufficient to take them one after the other.

This statement is taken from the Mishnah, Menachot 3:6, which includes the four species of the lulav in a long list of mitzvot in which all the particular elements that make up the mitzvah are required for its performance to be acceptable.

All of them [together] are called the mitzvah of lulav. - Since the lulav is the tallest of all the species, the entire mitzvah is referred to by this name (Sukkah 37b).

One may not diminish them - doing so violates the commandment בל תגרע (Deuteronomy 13:1), which forbids diminishing the Torah's commandments.

or add to them. - doing so violates the commandment תוסיף בל (Deuteronomy 13:1), which forbids adding to the Torah's commandments.

If one of the species cannot be found, a similar species - e.g., a tzaftzefah for the willow, or a lemon for the etrog

may not be substituted for it. - Rather, the mitzvah cannot be fulfilled at all. Nevertheless, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 651:12) recommends taking the species that are available, as a remembrance of the mitzvah. However, in such circumstances, a blessing should not be recited.

6

The most desirable way of performing the mitzvah is to bind the lulav, myrtle, and willow together, thus making a single, unified entity from the three of them.

Before one takes them to perform the mitzvah, he should recite the blessing on the mitzvah of taking the lulav, for all the others are dependent upon it.

Afterwards, he takes this bound entity in his right hand and the etrog in his left hand. He must take them as they grow - i.e., their roots below towards the earth, and their heads upward towards the sky.

If a person did not bind them together, but rather took them one by one, he has fulfilled his obligation, provided he possesses all four species. However, if he has only one species or he is lacking one species, he should not take them until he acquires the remaining species.

ו

מצוה מן המובחר לאגוד לולב והדס וערבה ולעשות שלשתן אגודה אחת. וכשהוא נוטלם לצאת בהן מברך תחלה על נטילת לולב הואיל וכולן סמוכין לו ואחר כך נוטל האגודה הזאת בימינו ואתרוג בשמאלו ונוטלן דרך גדילתן שיהיו עיקריהן למטה לארץ וראשיהן למעלה לאויר. ואם לא אגדן ונטלן אחד אחד יצא והוא שיהיו ארבעתן מצויין אצלו. אבל אם לא היה לו אלא מין אחד או שחסר מין אחד לא יטול עד שימצא השאר:

The most desirable way of performing the mitzvah is to bind the lulav, myrtle, and willow together, thus making a single, unified entity from the three of them. - Sukkah 11b explains that binding the three species together is considered more attractive than taking them each individually. Thus, taking the species in this manner conforms to the general directive requiring us to perform the mitzvot in the most esthetically appealing manner possible.

Sukkah 34b mentions an exegetic teaching that explains why the etrog is not bound together with the other species.

Before one takes them to perform the mitzvah, he should recite the blessing - for the blessings should always be recited before the performance of the mitzvot.

on the mitzvah of taking the lulav - Our translation follows the commentary of the Kessef Mishneh, who notes that in Hilchot Berachot 11:15, the Rambam states that if one recites the blessing before taking the lulav in his hand, he should conclude the blessing ...v'tzivanu litol lulav. The blessing should be concluded ...v'tzivanu al netilat lulav only if one has already taken the lulav in his hands.

for all the others are dependent upon it. - As mentioned in the previous halachah and commentary, since the lulav is the tallest of all the species, its name is used to refer to the entire mitzvah.

Afterwards, he takes this bound entity in his right hand and the etrog in his left hand. - Since three of the four species are bound together, they are held in the hand which the Torah considers of greater prominence (Sukkah 37b).

He must take them as they grow - Sukkah 45b derives this concept from Exodus 26:15, which states: "upright beams of acacia wood." Implied is that all mitzvot fulfilled with agricultural products must be performed while they are in an upright position. (See also Halachah 9.)

i.e., their roots below towards the earth, and their heads upward towards the sky. - Even though the etrog hangs from the tree with the pitam downwards, its "upright" position is when the pitam faces upward (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 651:12).

If a person did not bind them together, but rather took them one by one, he has fulfilled his obligation, provided he possesses all four species. - Sukkah 11b states that it is a mitzvah to bind the three species together, but one may fulfill the mitzvah even when one has not done so.

This law is accepted as halachah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 651:12). The preference of the Rabbis for binding the species together is so great that if one has not bound them together before the beginning of the festival, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 651:1) recommends binding them together with a loop on the holiday rather than taking each one individually.

However, if he has only one species or he is lacking one species, he should not take them until he acquires the remaining species. - as explained in the previous halachah.

7

How many does one take of each of them? One lulav, one etrog, two willow branches, and three myrtle branches. If one would like to add more myrtle branches so that the bundle will be larger, he may. Indeed, it is considered to be an adornment of the mitzvah. However, it is forbidden to add to or reduce the numbers of the other species. If one adds to or reduces their number, it is not acceptable.

ז

כמה נוטל מהן. לולב אחד ואתרוג אחד ושני בדי ערבה ושלשה בדי הדס. ואם רצה להוסיף בהדס כדי שתהיה אגודה גדולה מוסיף ונויי מצוה הוא. אבל שאר המינין אין מוסיפין על מנינם ואין גורעין מהן ואם הוסיף או גרע (פסול):

How many does one take of each of them? One lulav - Sukkah 34b derives this concept from the fact that Leviticus 23:40 writes כפת without a ו, implying a single entity, as mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 1.

one etrog - because the above verse mentions "a fruit (singular) from the beautiful tree" (Sukkah, ibid.).

two willow branches - because the above verse states "willows of the brook," using the plural, and thus two are required (ibid.)

and three myrtle branches. - The above verse uses three words ענף עץ עבות, each word implying the addition of another branch (Rashi, Sukkah, ibid.).

If one would like to add more myrtle - Some editions of the Mishneh Torah also add "and willow." However, most of the manuscripts and texts of the Mishneh Torah omit that phrase. Furthermore, in one of his responsa, the Rambam states that since the Talmud mentions adding only myrtles, it is improper to add any of the other species.

branches so that the bundle will be larger, he may. Indeed, it is considered to be an adornment of the mitzvah. - The latter statement can be understood to be an explanation of the former. In contrast to the other species, the myrtle is considered an adornment of the mitzvah. Since the extra myrtle branches are viewed as adornments, they are not considered to be an intervening substance separating the person from the mitzvah. (See the commentary on Halachah 11.) Nor is including them considered to be adding to the mitzvah (and thus, a violation of בל תוסיף). (See also Rabbenu Nissim and the Rashba, Vol. I, Responsum 535.)

There are some authorities who allow additional myrtle branches to be included even though they do not meet the requirement of having all three leaves on the same level. However, others do not accept this leniency (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 651:15).

However, it is forbidden to add to or reduce the numbers of the other species. - because they are not considered to be "adornments."

If one adds to or reduces their number, it is not acceptable. - The Ra'avad objects to this statement, arguing that the adding to the numbers of the other species does not nullify the performance of the mitzvah. Rav Avraham, the Rambam's son, writes that, based on Sanhedrin 88b, the Rambam amended his own manuscript copy of the Mishneh Torah to state "it does not nullify it" (Birkat Avraham 31).

8

What is the required length of each of these species? The lulav may not be less than four handbreadths. [Beyond that,] regardless of its length, it is kosher. Its length is measured only from its shidrah and not from the tips of the leaves.

The myrtle and the willow may not be less than three handbreadths. [Beyond that,] regardless of their length, they are kosher. Even if each branch has only three fresh leaves on it, they are kosher, provided the leaves are at the top of the branch.

If one has bound [the other species together with] the lulav, the shidrah of the lulav must extend beyond the myrtle and the willow a handbreadth or more.

The minimum size of an etrog is the size of an egg. [Beyond that,] regardless of its size, it is kosher.

ח

כמה שיעור אורך כל מין מהם. לולב אין פחות מארבעה טפחים ואם היה ארוך כל שהוא כשר. ומדידתו משדרתו בלבד לא מראש העלים והדס וערבה. אין פחות משלשה טפחים. ואם היו ארוכין כל שהן כשרים. ואפילו אין בכל בד ובד אלא שלשה עלין לחין כשרים והוא שיהיו בראש הבד. ואם אגד הלולב צריך שיהיה שדרו של לולב יוצא מן ההדס וערבה טפח או יותר. ושיעור אתרוג אין פחות מכביצה ואם היה גדול כל שהוא כשר:

What is the required length of each of these species? - The Mishnah Berurah 650:8 states that if the species are smaller than the minimum limits established, they may not be used throughout the festival. Though certain leniencies are granted after the first day, they do not apply regarding this matter.

The lulav may not be less than four handbreadths. - The Mishnah (Sukkah 3:1) describes the length of the lulav as "three handbreadths [and more], so that it can be shaken," implying that, like the other species, it should be three handbreadths in length. However, since all three handbreadths of the lulav must be shaken (see the following two halachot) an additional handbreadth was required for the person to hold the lulav in his hand (Rambam, Commentary on the Mishnah).

[Rashi and most other commentaries based on Sukkah 32b consider the handbreadth of the lulav that extends beyond the myrtle and the willow as the addition included "so that it can be shaken." From the latter clauses of this halachah, it appears that the Rambam may have also adopted this interpretation.]

A handbreadth is 8 centimeters according to Shiurei Torah, and 9.6 centimeters according to the Chazon Ish. In his commentary on the above Mishnah, the Rambam emphasizes that the measure refers to three full handbreadths, each four fingerbreadths in length. This is necessary to negate the opinion of certain authorities (see the Ra'avad), who state that here the intent is three "small" handbreadths, so that the total length is only 10 fingerbreadths.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 650:1) accepts the Ra'avad's opinion. Nevertheless, the Ramah suggests following the Rambam's view if possible.

[Beyond that,] regardless of its length, it is kosher. - Menachot 42a states that a lulav has a minimum length, but no maximum length.

Its length is measured only from its shidrah - i.e., what is measured is its center stem from its base until the portion which separates into two twin leaves that cling to each other.

and not from the tips of the leaves. - i.e., its full length.

The myrtle and the willow may not be less than three handbreadths. [Beyond that,] regardless of their length, they are kosher. - The latter principle is derived from the laws of the lulav.

Even if each branch has only three fresh leaves on it, they are kosher, provided the leaves are at the top of the branch. - Sukkah 33a states:

If most of [the myrtle's] leaves dried out, but three fresh leaves remain, it is kosher.

Rav Chisda said: "Provided they are at the top of each branch."

The Rambam maintains that the same principles can also be applied to the willow.

[Note the commentary on Halachah 8:5, which mentions certain relevant principles. Indeed, in general, this clause appears to be more closely related to the principles mentioned in the following chapter, where the Rambam mentions the characteristics that disqualify the various species, rather than in this chapter, where he relates the fundamental requirements of each one. Based on Sukkah 34a, which relates that myrtles which are not dry (a factor still common in many Diaspora communities today) are very difficult to find, we can interpret this as an almost parenthetical expression teaching that freshness is not among the fundamental requirements for a myrtle.]

If one has bound [the other species together with] the lulav, the shidrah of the lulav must extend beyond the myrtle and the willow a handbreadth or more. - The Rambam maintains that regardless of the length of the myrtles and the willows, the shidrah of the lulav must extend beyond them an additional handbreadth, so that it can be shaken. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid.:2) does not require adherence to the Rambam's view. Nevertheless, it is accepted without question by Shulchan Aruch HaRav 650:2.

The minimum size of an etrog is the size of an egg. - 57.6 cubic centimeters according to Shiurei Torah; in this context, 100 cubic centimeters according to the Chazon Ish.

[Beyond that,] regardless of its size, it is kosher. - Sukkah 36b relates that Rabbi Akiva came to synagogue with an etrog so large he had to sling it over his shoulder. (This is not out of the question, because, as mentioned above, an etrog is capable of remaining on its tree for an entire year and can attain quite a large size.)

9

Once a person lifts up these four species - whether he lifts them up together or one after the other - whether in his right hand or in his left hand - he has fulfilled his obligation. [This applies] only when he lifts them up as they grow. However, if he does not lift them up as they grow, he has not fulfilled his obligation.

The fulfillment of the mitzvah as the law [requires is as follows]: One should lift up the three species as they are bound together in one's right hand and the etrog in one's left hand. Then, one should pass them back and forth, up and down, and shake the lulav three times in each direction.

ט

משיגביה ארבעה מינין אלו בין שהגביהן כאחת בין בזה אחר זה בין בימין בין בשמאל יצא. והוא שיגביהן דרך גדילתן אבל שלא דרך גדילתן לא יצא. ומצוה כהלכתה שיגביה אגודה של שלשה מינין בימין ואתרוג בשמאל ויוליך ויביא ויעלה ויוריד וינענע הלולב שלש פעמים בכל רוח ורוח:

Once a person lifts up these four species - whether he lifts them up together - as described in Halachah 6.

or one after the other - lifting up each of the four species individually. However, a person must have all four species before him when he fulfills the mitzvah.

whether in his right hand or in his left hand - Although, in Halachah 6, the Rambam suggested holding the lulav together with the myrtle and willows together in his right hand and the etrog in his left, this is the most desirable way of fulfilling the mitzvah. However, even if a person does not lift up the species in this manner...

he has fulfilled his obligation. - Rabbenu Chanan'el does not accept this decision. He interprets Sukkah 42a, "If he lifted it up in an opposite manner, he did not fulfill his obligation," as referring to such a circumstance. Nevertheless, the Rambam (and similarly, most halachic authorities, including the Ramah, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 651:3) interpret that statement as referring to lifting them up opposite to their natural pattern of growth.

This applies] only when he lifts them up as they grow. - See Halachah 6 and the commentary on it.

However, if he does not lift them up as they grow, he has not fulfilled his obligation. - For this reason, it is customary in many communities to hold the etrog upside down before reciting the blessing, and then to turn it right side up after the blessing has been recited.

The fulfillment of the mitzvah as the law [requires is as follows]: One should lift up the three species as they are bound together in one's right hand and the etrog in one's left hand. - holding the etrog together with the lulav (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 651:11).

In the Beit Yosef, Rav Yosef Karo quotes the following story from the Recanti. The latter dreamed that he saw a particular pious individual writing God's name with a space separating the last ה from the first three letters. He could not comprehend the dream at all until the next day, when he saw that individual holding his etrog separate from his lulav (Mishnah Berurah 651:21).

Then, one should pass them back and forth, up and down - The Ari suggests that one should face the east and pass the lulav back and forth in the following order; first to the south; then to the north, then east, up, down, and to the west (Mishnah Berurah 651:20). Sukkah 37b relates that shaking the lulav in all directions prevents unfavorable winds.

When shaking the lulav downward, one should not turn it upside down, for this is opposite its natural pattern of growth. (See Ramah, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 651:9.)

10

What does the above entail? One passes the lulav forward and shakes the top of the lulav three times, brings it back and shakes the top of the lulav three times. One follows this same pattern when lifting it up and down.

At what point [in prayer] does one pass the lulav back and forth? During the reading of the Hallel, at the first and final recitation of the verse [Psalms 118:1, 118:29]: Hodu Lado-nai ki tov... and at the verse [Psalms 118:25]: Ana Ado-nai hoshi'ah na.

It is acceptable to take the lulav throughout the entire day. However, it is not taken at night.

י

כיצד מוליך ומנענע ראש הלולב שלש פעמים ומביא ומנענע ראש הלולב שלש פעמים וכן בעליה וירידה. והיכן מוליך ומביא בשעת קריאת ההלל בהודו לה' כי טוב תחלה וסוף ובאנא ה' הושיעה נא וכל היום כשר לנטילת לולב ואינו נוטל בלילה:

What does the above entail? One passes the lulav forward - once in each direction

and shakes the top of the lulav three times - while the lulav is extended outward in that particular direction.

brings it back - to one's chest

and shakes the top of the lulav three times. - while holding the lulav close to oneself.

The Ramah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 651:9) explains that passing the lulav back and forth is itself considered to be shaking it. Hence, rather than shake the lulav three times while it is extended, one must shake it as one extends it and brings it back, and repeat that process a total of three times in each direction.

One follows this same pattern when lifting it up and down. - Thus, one will have shaken the lulav a total of 36 times.

At what point [in prayer] - Rabbenu Manoach states that the lulav was also passed back and forth and shaken at the time the blessing is recited. This is our custom at present.

does one pass the lulav back and forth? During the reading of the Hallel - which is recited in its entirety on each day of the Sukkot festival.

at the first and final recitation of the verse [Psalms 118:1, 118:29]: Hodu Lado-nai ki tov... - Tosafot, Sukkah 37b explains the derivation of this practice as follows: 1 Chronicles 16:33 states: "Then all the trees of the forest will rejoice." The following verse (ibid. 34) states "Hodu Lado-nai...," and the subsequent verse: "Let them say Hoshi'eynu...."

The rejoicing of the trees - the shaking of the lulav - is thus associated with the verse "Hodu..." and the verse "Ana Ado-nai hoshi'ah na."

and at the verse [Psalms 118:25]: Ana Ado-nai hoshi'ah na. - It is customary to repeat this verse when reciting the Hallel. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 651:8) relates that the lulav is passed back and forth both times the verse is recited.

It is acceptable to take the lulav throughout the entire day. - However, one should not delay the performance of the mitzvah unnecessarily. Indeed, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 652:2) forbids eating before fulfilling the mitzvah.

However, it is not taken at night. - Megillah 20b derives this concept from Leviticus 23:40: "On the first day take...." We may infer: "the lulav is to be taken by day, and not by night."

11

If one wraps a cord of silver or gold around [the three species] as they are bound together, or wraps a [decorative] cloth around them and takes them, one fulfills his obligation. Taking the lulav through another medium is still considered to be taking it, provided [that medium] is one which gives honor and beauty [to the mitzvah, because]: "any entity which makes a substance more attractive is not considered to be a separation."

However, if one placed these species in a vase or a pot and took them, one has not fulfilled one's obligation.

יא

עשה לאגודה זו גימון של כסף ושל זהב או שכרך עליה סדין ונטלה יצא. לקיחה על ידי דבר אחר שמה לקיחה. והוא שיהיה דרך כבוד ודרך הדור שכל שהוא לנאותו אינו חוצץ. אבל אם נתן את המינין האלו בעציץ או בקדרה ונטלה לא יצא ידי חובתו:

If one wraps a cord of silver or gold around [the three species] as they are bound together - The Mishnah (Sukkah 3:8) relates that the inhabitants of Jerusalem would wrap their lulavim together with golden cords.

or wraps a [decorative] cloth around them and takes them, one fulfills his obligation. - Though we are commanded to take the lulav, that does not necessarily imply actually holding the lulav in one's hands, because...

Taking the lulav through another medium is still considered to be taking it - i.e., holding another substance in which the lulav is contained is still considered to be holding the lulav...

provided [that medium] is one which gives honor and beauty [to the mitzvah, because]: "any entity which makes a substance more attractive is not considered to be a separation." - between one's hands and the lulav. The substance used to bind the lulav is not considered to be an independent entity, but rather an extension of the lulav. This principle is also mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 7 of this chapter and Halachot 5:17-18. The Ramah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 651:8) states that it is customary to remove rings or other intervening substances that cover even small portions of one's hands before taking the lulav.

However, if one placed these species in a vase or a pot - Sukkah 42a explains that this is unbecoming to the mitzvah.

and took them, one has not fulfilled one's obligation. - The Mishnah Berurah 651:31 states that this applies even if the container in which one placed the species is made of silver or gold.

12

If one binds the lulav together with the myrtle and the willow and separates between the lulav and the myrtle with a cloth or the like, it is considered to be a separation. If one separates between them with myrtle leaves, it is not considered to be a separation, because an entity does not separate between its own kind.

One may bind the together with a string, a cord, or with any substance one desires, since binding it together is not a required element of the mitzvah.

יב

אגד את הלולב עם ההדס והערבה והבדיל בין הלולב ובין ההדס במטלת וכיוצא בה הרי זה חוצץ. הבדיל ביניהן בעלי הדס אינו חוצץ שמין במינו אינו חוצץ. ויש לו לאגוד את הלולב בחוט או במשיחה ובכל מין שירצה הואיל ואין אגידתו מעכב:

If one binds the lulav together with the myrtle and the willow and separates between the lulav and the myrtle with a cloth or the like - i.e., a substance which does not contribute to the lulav's attractiveness

it is considered to be a separation. - between the various species. Taking the lulav in this manner is not acceptable. The Ramah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 651:1) notes that the myrtle branches are frequently bound together with a cord. This must be removed before using them to fulfill the mitzvah.

If one separates between them with myrtle leaves - i.e., if the myrtle leaves fall off and collect between the lulav and the myrtle branches,

it is not considered to be a separation, because an entity does not separate between its own kind. - This principle applies in many different contexts. (See also Hilchot P'sulei Hamukdashin 1:21 and Hilchot Ma'aseh Hakorbanot 19:5.)

One may bind them together with a string, a cord, or with any substance one desires - i.e., using substances other than the three species used in the lulav

since binding it together is not a required element of the mitzvah. - the substance used to bind it is not considered to be significant. Therefore, using a different substance is not considered as adding a new entity to the mitzvah. However, if the binding were required, as one opinion (Sukkah 6b) maintains, it would be forbidden to use a different substance.

13

The mitzvah of taking the lulav in every place, during every age - even on the Sabbath - applies only on the first day of the festival, as [Leviticus 23:40] states: "And on the first day, you shall take..."

In the holy place alone, it is to be taken on each of the seven days of the festival, as [the above verse] continues: "and you shall rejoice before God, your Lord, [seven days]."

When the Sabbath falls during the [later] days, [the lulav] is not taken on the Sabbath. This is a decree lest one carry it four cubits in the public domain, as decreed regarding the shofar.

יג

מצות לולב להנטל ביום ראשון של חג בלבד בכל מקום ובכל זמן ואפילו בשבת שנאמר ולקחתם לכם ביום הראשון. ובמקדש לבדו נוטלין אותו בכל יום ויום משבעת ימי החג שנאמר ושמחתם לפני ה' אלהיכם גו'. חל יום השבת להיות בתוך ימי החג אינו ניטל בשבת גזרה שמא יוליכנו בידו ארבע אמות ברשות הרבים כמו שגזרו בשופר:

The mitzvah of taking the lulav in every place - i.e., even outside Jerusalem

during every age - i.e., whether or not the Temple is standing

even on the Sabbath - applies only on the first day of the festival, as [Leviticus 23:40] states: "And on the first day, you shall take..." - See Halachah 16. See also the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Sukkah 4:2).

In the holy place alone - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Sukkah 3:10), the Rambam states that the term מקדש refers to Jerusalem in its totality, not only the Temple Mount. Thus, the Jerusalem Talmud (Sukkah 3:11) states:

"And you shall rejoice before God, your Lord, seven days" - in Jerusalem.

(See also the commentary on Halachah 2:8.)

it is to be taken on each of the seven days of the festival, as [the above verse] continues: "and you shall rejoice before God, your Lord [seven days]."

When the Sabbath falls during the [later] days, [the lulav] is not taken on the Sabbath. - neither in Jerusalem (where taking the lulav is a mitzvah according to the Torah) nor outside the holy city (where taking the lulav is a Rabbinic decree, as stated in Halachah 15).

This is a decree - instituted by the Rabbis (Sukkah 43a)

lest one carry it four cubits in the public domain, as decreed regarding the shofar. - See Halachah 2:6.

14

Why was this decree not put in effect on the first day of the festival? Because [taking the lulav on that day] is a mitzvah from the Torah even outside of Jerusalem. Thus, the laws applying to it are not the same as those applying to the remaining days, because on the subsequent days of the festival a person is obligated to take the lulav only in the holy place.

יד

ולמה לא גזרו גזרה זו ביום טוב הראשון מפני שהוא מצוה מן התורה ואפילו בגבולין. נמצא שאין דינו ודין שאר הימים שוה שבשאר ימי החג אין אדם חייב ליטול לולב אלא במקדש:

Why was this decree not put in effect on the first day of the festival? Because [taking the lulav on that day] is a mitzvah from the Torah even outside of Jerusalem. Thus, the laws applying to it are not the same as those applying to the remaining days - Taking the lulav on the first day was obviously a matter of great importance. Hence, the Sages did not feel that the fear that perhaps a person might carry the lulav in the public domain was sufficient reason to nullify the mitzvah. In contrast, on the subsequent days the mitzvah is not considered to be so severe a matter. Hence, the mitzvah could be nullified in Jerusalem as well.

The Rabbis question why the Sages differentiated between the lulav and the shofar, and (as explained in Halachah 2:6), nullified the mitzvah of hearing the shofar when Rosh Hashanah fell on the Sabbath. As explained in our commentary on that halachah, in Rabbenu Nissim's commentary on the tractate of Sukkah, he states that this decree was instituted only because in most Jewish communities, the people were not aware of the date the court had established for Rosh Hashanah. (Note the details of the explanation there.)

because on the subsequent days of the festival a person is obligated to take the lulav only in the holy place. - Thus, while the Temple was standing, the lulav would not be taken outside Jerusalem during the subsequent days of the festival.

15

When the Temple was destroyed, [the Sages] ordained that the lulav be taken everywhere for the entire seven days of the festival, as a remembrance of the Temple.

On each day, one recites the blessing on it:

[Baruch Attah Ado-nai...] asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al netilat lulav.

because it a mitzvah ordained by the Rabbis.

This enactment, like the other enactments instituted by Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai when the Temple was destroyed [is only temporary]. When the Temple is rebuilt, these matters will return to their original status.

טו

משחרב בית המקדש התקינו שיהיה לולב ניטל בכל מקום כל שבעת ימי החג זכר למקדש. וכל יום ויום מברך עליו אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על נטילת לולב מפני שהיא מצוה מדברי סופרים. ותקנה זו עם כל התקנות שהתקין רבן יוחנן בן זכאי משחרב בית המקדש כשיבנה בית המקדש יחזרו הדברים לישנן:

When the Temple was destroyed, [the Sages] ordained that the lulav be taken everywhere for the entire seven days of the festival as a remembrance of the Temple. - Sukkah 41a explains the source for the establishment of remembrances for the Temple practices:

[Jeremiah 30:17] states: "'I will restore health to you. I will heal you of your wounds," says God. 'Because they called you an outcast. Zion, for whom no one cares.'

The verse states "for whom no one cares," implying that a show of our care is required.

On this basis, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai established a number of practices in remembrance of the Temple practices.

On each day - but only once a day (Ramah, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 651:5).

one recites the blessing on it: [Baruch Attah Ado-nai...] asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al netilat lulav. - As mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 6, the Rambam explains in Hilchot Berachot 11:15 that it is preferable to conclude the blessing, litol lulav. The Kessef Mishneh maintains that the Rambam's present statement is only a reference to his previous one, and not a reversal of his opinion. Nevertheless, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 651:5) and all later authorities recommend reciting al netilat lulav.

because it a mitzvah ordained by the Rabbis. - In Hilchot Berachot 11:3, the Rambam writes that a blessing should be recited before the performance of a Rabbinic commandment. It is appropriate to say v'tzivanu (and He commanded us) because the commandment to follow the Sages includes the observance of all their enactments.

This enactment, like the other enactments instituted by Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai when the Temple was destroyed [is only temporary]. When the Temple is rebuilt, these matters will return to their original status. - The Tosefta, Rosh Hashanah 2:7, states this concept explicitly. It is also obvious from Beitzah 5b, which explains that "when in the near future, the Temple will be rebuilt," difficulties may arise from following Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai's decree.

16

While the Temple was standing, the lulav would be taken [in the holy place even] when the first day of Sukkot fell on the Sabbath. The same applies in other places where they were certain that this day was celebrated as a holiday in Eretz Yisrael. However, the places which were distantly removed from Jerusalem would not take the lulav on this day because of the doubt involved.

טז

בזמן שבית המקדש קיים היה לולב ניטל ביום הראשון שחל להיות בשבת. וכן בשאר המקומות שידעו בודאי שיום זה הוא יום החג בארץ ישראל. אבל המקומות הרחוקים שלא היו יודעים בקביעות ראש חדש לא היו נוטלין הלולב מספק:

While the Temple was standing - and the day when a new month began was established through the testimony of witnesses who saw the new moon.

the lulav would be taken [in the holy place - i.e., the city of Jerusalem

even] when the first day of Sukkot fell on the Sabbath. - as stated above in Halachah 13.

The same applies in other places - throughout Eretz Yisrael and the Diaspora

where they were certain that this day - the fifteenth of Tishre

was celebrated as a holiday in Eretz Yisrael. - As mentioned in Hilchot Kiddush Hachodesh, Chapter 3, the Sanhedrin would send messengers to all Jewish communities to inform them when each new month had begun. The communities which received this information before the Sukkot festival celebrated the holidays for only one day. They would be allowed to take the lulav when the first day of Sukkot fell on the Sabbath.

Sukkot 41b relates:

When the first day of the festival fell on the Sabbath, everyone would bring their lulav to the synagogue [on Friday]. On the following day, everyone would recognize his lulav and take it.

This was the practice outside Jerusalem. Sukkot 42b describes the practice in the Temple.

They would bring their lulavim to the Temple Mount [on Friday]. The attendants would take them from them and place them on benches. The elders would place their lulavim in chambers. They would teach them to say: "Whoever receives my lulav may consider it as a gift."

In the morning, they would arise and come [to the Temple]. The attendants would throw [the lulavim] to the people. They would grab them from one another and even come to violence. When the court saw that the situation was becoming dangerous, they ordained that each person should take [the lulav] in his own home.

However, the places which were distantly removed from Jerusalem - and were not informed of the day on which Rosh Hashanah had fallen, would celebrate two days. Therefore, they...

would not take the lulav on this day because of the doubt - whether or not the day was, in fact, Sukkot

involved. - i.e., had they known for sure that the holiday began on this day, they would have taken the lulav. However, since they were not sure of that fact, the Sages did not want to risk the possible violation of the Sabbath laws.

17

When the Temple was destroyed, the Sages forbade even the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael who had sanctified the new month to take the lulav on the Sabbath on the first day of Sukkot.

[This was instituted] because of the inhabitants of the distant settlements, who were not aware of when the new month had been declared. Thus, a uniform guideline was established, rather than having some take the lulav on the Sabbath and some not. [The guiding principle was] that the obligation [of taking the lulav] on the first day applies in all places, and there is no longer a Temple to use as a point of distinction.

יז

ומשחרב בית המקדש אסרו חכמים ליטול את הלולב בשבת ביום הראשון ואפילו בני ארץ ישראל שקדשו את החדש. מפני בני הגבולין הרחוקים שאינן יודעין בקביעת החדש כדי שיהיו הכל שוין בדבר זה ולא יהיו אלו נוטלין בשבת ואלו אין נוטלין. הואיל וחיוב יום ראשון בכל מקום אחד הוא ואין שם מקדש להתלות בו:

When the Temple was destroyed - even though the new moon was still sanctified according to the testimony of witnesses. (That practice continued several hundred years after the destruction of the Temple - Hilchot Kiddush Hachodesh 5:3.)

the Sages forbade even the inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael who had sanctified the new month - and thus knew that they were certainly obligated to perform the mitzvah

to take the lulav on the Sabbath on the first day of Sukkot - for the reasons mentioned in Halachah 13.

[This was instituted] because of the inhabitants of the distant settlements, who were not aware of when the new month had been declared. Thus, a uniform guideline was established, rather than having some take the lulav on the Sabbath and some not. - The Sages did not want confusion to arise because of a difference in local custom. Accordingly, they were willing to decree that many Jews forego the performance of a mitzvah from the Torah, in order to establish uniformity throughout the Jewish people.

[The guiding principle was] that the obligation [of taking the lulav] on the first day applies in all places - and the people in the distant communities could not take the lulav when the first day fell on the Sabbath because of the doubt involved

and there is no longer a Temple to use as a point of distinction - i.e., while the Temple was standing, the difference in practice between the people living in places where the date of the month was known and those where it was not known could be explained because everyone knew that the lulav was taken on the first day in the Temple. However, when the Temple was destroyed, there was no point of distinction, and the Sages established a totally uniform practice.

The Lechem Mishneh questions why Sages did not institute the celebration of the second day of each festival in Eretz Yisrael as well. If their desire for uniformity of observance was so great, why did they not establish a single practice in this regard as well?

He explains that the Sages were more reluctant to exercise their authority when they had to establish a new practice (קום ועשה) - celebrating an additional day as a festival - than when all that was necessary was to have the people refrain from the performance of a mitzvah (שב ועל תעשה), as in the case of the lulav.

Another concept can be derived from this halachah. The Hebrew word translated as Temple - מקדש - is used by the Rambam to refer to the entire city of Jerusalem. Thus, we can infer from the statement "there is no longer a מקדש" that this distinction is conferred on the holy city only while the Temple is standing.

18

At present, when everyone follows a fixed calendar, the matter remains as it was, and the lulav is not taken on the Sabbath in the outlying territories or in Eretz Yisrael even on the first day [of the festival]. [This applies] even though everyone knows the actual day of the month.

As explained, the reason for the prohibition of taking the lulav on the Sabbath is a decree lest one carry it four cubits in the public domain.

יח

ובזמן הזה שהכל עושין על פי החשבון נשאר הדבר כמות שהיה שלא ינטל לולב בשבת כלל לא בגבולין ולא בארץ ישראל ואפילו ביום ראשון. ואף על פי שהכל יודעים בקביעת החדש. וכבר בארנו שעיקר האיסור בנטילת הלולב בשבת גזרה שמא יעבירנו ארבע אמות ברשות הרבים:

At present, when everyone follows a fixed calendar - See Chapter 5 of Hilchot Kiddush Hachodesh.

the matter remains as it was, and the lulav is not taken on the Sabbath in the outlying territories or in Eretz Yisrael - or in Jerusalem

even on the first day [of the festival]. - when the obligation to do so is from the Torah itself.

[This applies] even though everyone knows the actual day of the month. - As mentioned regarding the celebration of the second day of a festival (Beitzah 4b; Hilchot Kiddush Hachodesh 5:5), according to Torah law this practice should not be followed. Nevertheless, as a mark of respect for established custom, the practice is continued.

As explained - in Halachah 13,

the reason for the prohibition of taking the lulav on the Sabbath is a decree lest one carry it four cubits in the public domain.

19

Whoever is obligated to fulfill [the mitzvot of] shofar and sukkah is obligated to take the lulav. Whoever is not obligated regarding shofar and sukkah is not obligated to take the lulav.

A child who knows how to shake [the lulav] is obligated regarding the lulav by Rabbinic law, in order to train him in the performance of mitzvot.

יט

כל שחייב בשופר ובסוכה חייב בנטילת הלולב. וכל הפטור משופר וסוכה פטור מנטילת לולב. קטן היודע לנענע חייב בלולב מדברי סופרים כדי לחנכו במצות:

Whoever is obligated to fulfill [the mitzvot of] shofar and sukkah is obligated to take the lulav. Whoever is not obligated regarding shofar and sukkah is not obligated to take the lulav. - i.e., the lulav, like the shofar and the sukkah, is a positive commandment whose observance is restricted to a specific time. Accordingly, women and slaves are under no obligation. (See Halachot 2:1 and 6:1.)

A child who knows how to shake [the lulav] - according to the instructions of our Sages (Rabbenu Manoach). (See Halachot 9 and 10.)

is obligated - See the note on Halachah 6:1.

regarding lulav by Rabbinic law, in order to train him in the performance of mitzvot. - Note the specific instructions in Halachah 8:10 regarding a child's performance of the mitzvah on the first day of the festival.

20

It is a halachah conveyed by Moses from Mount Sinai that - in addition to the willow of the lulav - another willow branch was taken in the Temple. A person does not fulfill his obligation with the willow branch in the lulav.

The minimum requirement [to fulfill this mitzvah] is one branch with one leaf.

כ

הלכה למשה מסיני שמביאין במקדש ערבה אחרת חוץ מערבה שבלולב. ואין אדם יוצא ידי חובתו בערבה שבלולב. ושיעורה אפילו עלה אחד בבד אחד:

It is a halachah conveyed by Moses from Mount Sinai - i.e., a commandment that has the status of Torah law even though there is no explicit commandment to that effect in the Torah.

that - in addition to the willow of the lulav - There is another totally different mitzvah performed with the willow.

another willow branch was brought in the Temple. - as described in the following halachot.

Rashi and Tosafot, (Sukkah 43b) explain that the mitzvah of the willow branch was only performed by the priests for only they were allowed to approach the Temple altar where the branches were arranged. However, from halachah 22, it appears that the Rambam does not share this opinion.

Sukkah 44a, b also mentions that outside the Temple there was a custom of established in the time of the prophets requiring the taking of the willow by all Jews. (See also Hilchot Berachot 11:16.)

A person does not fulfill his obligation with the willow branch in the lulav - even if after using for the lulav, he detaches it and takes it by itself (Sukkah 44b, Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 664:6).

21

How was this mitzvah performed?

On each of the seven days [of the festival], branches of willows were brought and stood upright near the altar with their tops bent over the altar. When they would bring them and arrange them [near the altar,] a series of [shofar blasts] - teki'ah, teru'ah, and teki'ah - were sounded.

When the Sabbath fell in the midst of the festival, the willows would not be arranged [near the altar] unless the seventh day fell on the Sabbath. [On such an occasion,] the willows were arranged [near the altar], to publicize the fact that [taking] them is a mitzvah.

כא

כיצד היתה מצותה. בכל יום ויום משבעת הימים היו מביאין מורביות של ערבה וזוקפין אותן על צדדי המזבח וראשיהן כפופין על גבי המזבח. ובעת שהיו מביאין אותה וסודרין אותה תוקעין ומריעין ותוקעין. חל יום שבת להיות בתוך החג אין זוקפין ערבה אלא אם כן חל יום שביעי להיות בשבת זוקפין אותה בשבת כדי לפרסמה שהיא מצוה:

How was this mitzvah performed? On each of the seven days [of the festival], branches of willows were brought - from Motza, a small town slightly west of Jerusalem (Sukkah 45a).

and stood upright near the altar - From this fact, Rashi and Tosafot conclude that the willows were taken by priests only because Israelites were not allowed to approach the Temple altar.

with their tops bent over the altar. - These willow branches were eleven cubits high and were placed on the base of the altar.

Afterwards, they would be taken by the people, as stated in the following halachah. Rabbenu Manoach maintains that the priests would take the willow branches and give them to the people because Israelites were not allowed to approach the altar, as above. However, he notes that Rav Yitzchak ibn Giat's description of the mitzvah could be interpreted to mean that the Israelites themselves were permitted to approach the altar on this occasion.

When they would bring them and arrange them [near the altar,] a series of [shofar blasts] - teki'ah, teru'ah, and teki'ah - were sounded - as an expression of happiness (Tosafot, Sukkah, ibid.). The shofar was also sounded in connection with the communal sacrifices and other rites carried out in the Temple.

When the Sabbath fell in the midst of the festival, the willows would not be arranged [near the altar] - on the Sabbath, since the mitzvah of lulav was negated on such an occasion (Halachah 13). Indeed, in his Commentary on the Mishnah (Sukkah 4:3), the Rambam writes that the reason the mitzvah of taking the willow on the Sabbath was negated was so that people would not extend the leniency and take the lulav as well.

unless the seventh day fell on the Sabbath. - The seventh day of Sukkot falls on the Sabbath only when Rosh Hashanah is celebrated on Sunday. Since the Sages attempted to prevent the latter occurrence (Hilchot Kiddush Hachodesh 7:7) - indeed, it is impossible according to today's fixed calendar - it was rare that the seventh day of Sukkot would fall on the Sabbath.

[On such an occasion,] the willows were arranged [near the altar] - and the willows were taken as during the week. Though the mitzvah of lulav would not be performed on such an occasion, an exception was made regarding the willows, in order...

to publicize the fact that [taking] them is a mitzvah. - Since the willows were placed near the altar by the priests, and the performance of the mitzvah was under the supervision of the court, there was no need to worry about people carrying willows in the public domain (Sukkah 43b).

In a related context, Sukkah 43b relates that the followers of Boethus, who did not respect the Oral Law, once tried to prevent the people from following the mitzvah of the willow branches on the Sabbath. Indeed, precisely because the source for the mitzvah is the oral tradition alone, the Sages made a point of allowing it to be observed on the Sabbath at least under such circumstances (Rabbenu Manoach).

The actual performance of the mitzvah on the Sabbath is described in the following halachah.

22

How would they fulfill [this mitzvah on the Sabbath]?

They would bring [the branches] to the Temple on the Sabbath eve and place them in golden containers, so their leaves would not dry out. On the following morning, they would be placed next to the altar and the people would take them in the same manner as they did each day.

Since the willow is not explicitly mentioned in the Torah, it is not taken on each of the seven days of the festival as a remembrance of the Temple. Rather, at present it is taken only on the seventh day.

What is done? One takes one branch or many branches in addition to the willow of the lulav, and hits the ground or a utensil with them two or three times. No blessing is recited, because this practice is a custom instituted by the prophets.

כב

כיצד היו עושין מביאין אותה מערב שבת למקדש ומניחין אותה בגיגיות של זהב כדי שלא יכמשו העלין. ולמחר זוקפין אותה על גבי המזבח ובאין העם ולוקחין ממנה ונוטלין אותה כדרך שעושין בכל יום. וערבה זו הואיל ואינה בפירוש בתורה אין נוטלין אותה כל שבעת ימי החג זכר למקדש אלא ביום השביעי בלבד הוא שנוטלין אותה בזמן הזה. כיצד עושה לוקח בד אחד או בדין הרבה חוץ מערבה שבלולב וחובט בה על הקרקע או על הכלי פעמים או שלש בלא ברכה שדבר זה מנהג נביאים הוא:

How would they fulfill [this mitzvah on the Sabbath]? They would bring [the branches] to the Temple on the Sabbath eve and place them in golden containers so their leaves would not dry out. - Some commentaries explain that the golden vessels were used as an expression of respect for the mitzvah. However, the Ma'aseh Rokeach explains that, in comparison to containers made of other metals, golden ones are more beneficial in preserving the willows' freshness.

On the following morning, they would be placed next to the altar, and the people would take them in the same manner as they did each day. - Note the commentary on the previous halachah.

Since the willow is not explicitly mentioned in the Torah - The Maggid Mishneh's text of the Mishneh Torah reads: "it is not explicitly [an obligation] from the Torah." Accordingly, he and the other commentators debated whether the Rambam considers a halachah conveyed by Moses from Mt. Sinai as a Torah obligation or not. In Hilchot Tum'at Meit 2:10, the Rambam specifically states that a halachah conveyed by tradition has the power of Torah law.

it is not taken on each of the seven days of the festival as a remembrance of the Temple - as is the lulav (Halachah 15).

Rather, at present it is taken only on the seventh day. - Hoshanah Rabbah.

What is done - to fulfill the mitzvah at present?

One takes one - willow

branch or many branches - At present, it is customary to take five.

in addition to the willow of the lulav and hits the ground - The Zohar mentions this practice

or a utensil with them two or three times. - According to Kabbalah, the custom is to hit the ground five times.

No blessing is recited, because this practice is a custom instituted by the prophets. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Sukkah 4:3), the Rambam writes: "The willow is a halachah conveyed by Moses....It was a custom of the prophets to take it without a blessing."

However, in Hilchot Berachot 11:15, he writes:

Every practice which is a custom - even if it a custom of the prophets (e.g., taking the willow on the seventh day of the festival)... - [does not require] the recitation of a blessing.

It is possible to reconcile the two statements as follows: A blessing was never recited upon taking the willow in the Temple (though it could have been), because of the custom of the prophets mentioned in his Commentary on the Mishnah. There was never any reason to recite a blessing over taking the willow outside the Temple because it was only a custom.

23

On each day of the festival, they would walk around the altar once, carrying their lulavim in their hands, reciting: "Please, God, save us. Please, God, grant us success" [Psalms 118:25]. On the seventh day, they would walk around the altar seven times.

It has become universally accepted Jewish custom to place the ark in the center of the synagogue and walk around it each day, as they walked around the altar in remembrance of the Temple [service].

כג

בכל יום ויום היו מקיפין את המזבח בלולביהן בידיהן פעם אחת ואומרין אנא ה' הושיעה נא. אנא ה' הצליחה נא. וביום השביעי מקיפין את המזבח שבע פעמים. וכבר נהגו ישראל בכל המקומות להניח תיבה באמצע בית הכנסת ומקיפין אותה בכל יום כדרך שהיו מקיפין את המזבח זכר למקדש:

On each day of the festival - in the Temple

they - There is a question if this practice was carried out only by the priests, or by Israelites as well. (See the commentary on Halachah 21.)

would walk around the altar once, carrying their lulavim - Sukkah 43b mentions an opinion that states that the people would walk around the altar carrying the willow branch, but concludes as the Rambam does. (See also Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 664:4.)

in their hands, reciting: "Please, God, save us. Please, God, grant us success" - Many manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah state "Please, God, save us" twice, repeating that verse as is our custom in the recitation of Hallel.

On the seventh day, they would walk around the altar seven times. - The Yalkut Shimoni notes that this recalls the miracle of the conquest of Jericho.

It has become universally accepted Jewish custom to place the ark in the center of the synagogue - From Hilchot Tefillah 11:3, it appears that in addition to the main ark of the synagogue, there was a small movable ark that was positioned in the center of the synagogue. The present custom is to hold the Torah scrolls on the reader's platform in the center of the synagogue. This is also mentioned in the Yalkut Shimoni: "The chazan stands as an angel of God, holding the Torah scroll in his arm."

and walk around it each day - once, and seven times on Hoshanah Rabbah.

as they walked around the altar in remembrance of the Temple [service].

24

The following custom was observed in Jerusalem: A person would leave his house in the morning [carrying] his lulav in his hand. He would enter the synagogue with it in his hand; pray while it was in his hand; go to visit the sick and comfort the mourners with it in his hand. When he entered the House of Study, he would send it home with his son or servant.

כד

כך היה המנהג בירושלים. יוצא אדם מביתו שחרית ולולבו בידו. ונכנס לבית הכנסת והוא בידו. מתפלל והוא בידו. ויוצא לבקר חולים ולנחם אבלים והוא בידו. וכשיכנס למדרש משלחו לביתו ביד בנו או ביד עבדו:

The following custom was observed in Jerusalem - as an expression of the dearness with which the people regarded the mitzvah:

A person would leave his house in the morning [carrying] his lulav in his hand. - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 652:1) states that "the eager" fulfill the mitzvah of lulav early in the morning. Afterwards, the lulav would be carried - while open, without a carrying case - throughout the day.

He would enter the synagogue with it in his hand; pray while it was in his hand - Even though one should not ordinarily hold any objects in one's hands while praying, lest one's concentration be distracted, since holding the lulav is a mitzvah dear to a Jew's heart, it will not become a distraction.

go to visit the sick and comfort the mourners with it in his hand - for there is no difficulty in carrying the lulav while fulfilling those mitzvot.

When he entered the House of Study, he would send it home with his son or servant. - We fear that a person's involvement in his studies will prevent him from showing proper attention to the lulav, and perhaps he will drop it (Rashi, Sukkah, ibid.).

25

During the time the lulav was taken on the Sabbath, a woman was allowed to receive the lulav from her son or her husband and return it to the water on the Sabbath. On the festival, a person might add to the water. On Chol Hamo'ed, one might change the water.

כה

מקבלת אשה הלולב מיד בנה או מיד בעלה ומחזירתו למים בשבת בזמן שהיו נוטלין לולב בשבת. וביום טוב מוסיפין על המים ובמועד מחליפין המים:

42a).

During the time the lulav was taken on the Sabbath - See Halachot 13 and 14. At present, it is forbidden to carry the lulav on the Sabbath (Ramah, Orach Chayim 558:2).

a woman was allowed to receive the lulav from her son or her husband - Though she was not required to fulfill the mitzvah herself, no prohibition was instituted against her carrying the lulav.

and return it to the water on the Sabbath. - This was not considered a violation of the Sabbath laws which prevent causing any agricultural growth. However, it was forbidden to add to the water or change it on the Sabbath because of the trouble involved.

On the festival, a person might add to the water. - but not change it.

On Chol Hamo'ed - though there are certain restrictions against work

one might change the water. - Indeed, it is proper to do so to keep the lulav fresh (Rabbenu Manoach).

26

It is forbidden to smell the myrtle in the lulav. Since it is useful only for smelling and it has been set aside for the performance of the mitzvah, it is forbidden to smell it. However, it is permitted to smell an etrog, because setting it aside for the mitzvah [prohibits it from being] eaten.

כו

הדס שבלולב אסור להריח בו מפני שאינו ראוי אלא לריח והואיל והוקצה למצוה אסור להריח בו. אבל אתרוג מותר להריח בו שהרי הוקצה למצוה מאכילה:

It is forbidden to smell the myrtle in the lulav. - As explained in Chapter 6, Halachah 15, with regard to the s'chach of a sukkah: after it has been set aside for use as a mitzvah, it may not be used for mundane purposes throughout the holiday.

Since it is useful only for smelling - in contrast to the etrog, mentioned in the second clause.

and it has been set aside for the performance of the mitzvah, it is forbidden to smell it. - The prohibition applies even on the Sabbath, when the lulav is not taken (Mishnah Berurah 653:2).

However, it is permitted to smell an etrog, because setting it aside for the mitzvah [prohibits it from being] eaten. - An etrog is primarily used for eating. Thus, its being set aside for use for the mitzvah causes that function to be prohibited. However, smelling it is a secondary function that is not included in that prohibition.

Nevertheless, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 653:1) recommends refraining from smelling the etrog, because of the doubt regarding the proper blessing to recite. The Mishnah Berurah (653:3) states that with the exception of the time when the lulav is being taken, one may smell the etrog throughout the holiday.

27

It is forbidden to eat the etrog throughout the seventh day [of the festival]; since it was set aside for a portion of the day, it is set aside for the entire day. However, on the eighth day it is permitted to be eaten.

At present, when we celebrate [the festivals for] two days - even though the etrog is not taken on the eighth day - the etrog is forbidden on the eighth day, since it was forbidden on the eighth day during the time [the festivals] were celebrated for two days because of the doubt whether [the eighth day] was, in fact, the seventh.

When a person sets aside seven etrogim, [one for each] of the seven days [of the festival], each one of them can be used for the mitzvah on its day and eaten on the morrow.

כז

ואסור לאכול אתרוג כל יום השביעי מפני שהוקצה למקצת היום הוקצה לכולו. ובשמיני מותר באכילה. ובזמן הזה שאנו עושין שני ימים אף על פי שאין נוטלין לולב בשמיני האתרוג אסור בשמיני כדרך שהיה אסור בשמיני בזמן שהיו עושין שני ימים מפני הספק שהוא ספק שביעי. הפריש שבעה אתרוגין לשבעת הימים כל אחת ואחת יוצא בה ליומה ואוכלה למחר

It is forbidden to eat the etrog - even if it has become unacceptable for use in performing the mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 665:1).

throughout the seventh day [of the festival] - The Mishnah (Sukkah 4:6) relates that despite this prohibition, after the mitzvah was fulfilled on the seventh day of Sukkot the children would eat their etrogim.

since it was set aside for a portion of the day, it is set aside for the entire day. However, on the eighth day it is permitted to be eaten. - In contrast, the s'chach of the sukkah might not be used for a mundane purpose on the eighth day either (Chapter 6, Halachah 15). Rabbenu Manoach explains the difference, relating that - should one desire to eat - the sukkah must also be used beyn hash'mashot - the period between sunset and the appearance of three stars - while the lulav would not be taken during that time.

At present, when we celebrate [the festivals for] two days - because of the previously established custom, even though there is no question regarding the dates of the holidays because of the fixed calendar we use, as explained in the commentary on Halachah 18.

even though the etrog is not taken on the eighth day - The Maggid Mishneh notes the contrast between the mitzvot of lulav and of the sukkah, which, as mentioned in Chapter 6, Halachah 13, must be fulfilled on the eighth day of the festival. He differentiates between the two, noting that it is a mitzvah from the Torah to dwell in the sukkah for all seven days of the holiday. Therefore, because of the doubt, that mitzvah was also observed on the eighth day. In contrast, outside of Jerusalem there was never a mitzvah from the Torah to take the lulav for seven days. Hence, that mitzvah need not be observed on the eighth day.

The Kessef Mishneh adds a further point. It is forbidden to carry the lulav for no purpose on the eighth day, the holiday of Shemini Atzeret. No such prohibition applies regarding the use of the sukkah.

the etrog is forbidden on the eighth day - However, it is permitted on the ninth day, Simchat Torah (Shulchan Aruch, ibid.).

In contrast, at present, the use of the s'chach is forbidden on the ninth day.

since it was forbidden on the eighth day - The Kessef Mishneh advises amending the text to read "on the seventh day." In either case, the intent is the same - because it was forbidden by law on the seventh day, that prohibition was observed on the eighth day as well, because of the doubt involved.

during the time [the festivals] were celebrated for two days because of the doubt whether [the eighth day] was, in fact, the seventh. - i.e., during the time when the calendar was established according to the testimony of witnesses, and word of the sanctification of the new moon could not reach the people in the outlying communities in time for the celebration of the holiday, as mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 16.

When a person sets aside seven etrogim, [one for each] of the seven days [of the festival], each one of them can be used for the mitzvah on its day and eaten on the morrow - more precisely, even on the night after it was used, for the etrog was set aside only for that day alone.