You shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of a citron tree, the branches of date palms, twigs of myrtles and brook willows (Leviticus 23:40).

"And you shall take": We learn that in order for one to fulfill the Mitzvah one has to take the four species in his hand.1 Why does the Torah insist that they be taken in one's hand?

ANSWER: According to our sages,2 the four species represent different parts of the human body. The citron (etrog) resembles a heart, the palm branch (lulov) represents the spine, the myrtle (hadas) has small leaves which are like eyes, and the willow (aravah) resembles the lips.

By telling us "you shall take" the Torah is conveying a message of great importance: that these four major body parts must be taken in hand—that is, be under the person's control.

The heart sometimes lusts for dangerous things. From the citron man learns to control the desires of his heart. At all times, the brain must rule over the desires of the heart.3

The palm branch needs to be firm and upright. It should not be loose, curved, or bending to all sides. The spine provides major support for body and the spinal cord controls it. A weak spine can, G‑d forbid, cause a person to be paralyzed or of bent stature. The requirement that the palm be taken in hand teaches us that a Jew must be firm in his convictions, walk upright, and be proud of the fact that he is a member of the Jewish people. He must never bend—compromise in his Jewishness.

The myrtle leaves, resembling eyes, must grow upright on their stems. This teaches us that a Jew must always look up to G‑d in Heaven with optimism and not look down upon other people. The message implied by the requirement that the myrtle be taken in the hand is that one must learn to control his eyes and also to be happy with one's lot and not look enviously on other people's good fortune.

The leaves of the willow must be smooth and not have sharp serrated edges. The mitzvah of taking it into the hands emphasizes the importance of controlling one's lips. In particular, one should be careful not to make biting remarks; rather one should speak words of Torah and speak well of one's fellow.