Our Sages state in the Midrash1 that the esrog, lulav, hadassim and aravos, employed during the festival of Sukkosfor the commandment of taking the “four kinds,” are each symbolic of a particular category of Jew.

The esrog, or citron, which possesses both a tangy taste and fine fragrance, is symbolic of the Jew who possesses both Torah learning and good deeds. Since the study of Torah is an intellectual pursuit and is to be enjoyed and savored, it is likened to taste; the performance of commandments (“good deeds”) through the acceptance of the Divine yoke is likened to fragrance, as fragrance is much less tangible than taste.

The lulav, or palm branch, alludes to those Jews who excel in Torah study but not in their performance of mitzvos; like dates that grow on the palm tree, they possess good taste but lack fragrance.

Hadassim, or myrtles, possessing a pleasant aroma but lacking any taste, are symbolic of those Jews who possess good deeds but are lacking in Torah study.

Finally, aravos, or willow branches, lacking both taste and fragrance, are symbolic of those Jews lacking in both Torah and good deeds.

When the festival of Sukkos arrives — continues the MidrashG‑d says, “Let all these four kinds be bound together and they will atone for one another.” The festival of Sukkos thus celebrates the unity of the entire Jewish people in a very real and revealed sense.

According to the commentary of the Midrash itwould seem that the loftiest of the “four kinds” is the esrog, inasmuch as it alludes to the highest category among the Jewish people — those who excel both in Torah and good deeds.

Accordingly, we must understand why the blessing for taking the “four kinds” is “... for taking the lulav,” and not “... for taking the esrog.” Our Sages explain2 that we recite the blessing over the lulav because the lulav is taller than the other three kinds.

The shape of all physical things, especially those with which the various commandments are performed, relates directly to the spiritual sources from whence these objects derive. Consequently, the lulav’s imposing physical height results then from the fact that spiritually, as well, the lulav possesses a quality that makes it loftier than the other three kinds.

Now, how can the lulav possibly be loftier than the esrog when the esrog has both the pleasant taste of Torah and the fragrance of mitzvos, while the [fruit of the] lulav possesses only taste — Torah?

This will be understood when we contrast Torah to mitzvos. Our Sages state that mitzvos are the “limbs of the King,”3 while with regard to the Torah our Sages state that “Torah and G‑d are truly one.”4

While the limbs of the body are nullified to the soul and its desires, they are, however, not the soul itself. The same is so with regard to mitzvos. Performance of mitzvos indicates a Jew’s subservience to G‑d — but he still remains a separate entity.

However, when a Jew comprehends Torah, which is to say that his intellect comprehends G‑d’s intellect, as it were, he is then wholly united with G‑d’s intellect,5 which is “one with G‑d Himself.” Understandably, the more the individual devotes himself to Torah study, the greater will be his attachment to G‑d.

Thus the “lulav Jew,” the Jew who is wholly devoted to Torah study, achieves a greater degree of attachment to G‑d than does the “esrog Jew,” the Jew who is equally devoted to the study of Torah and to the performance of its mitzvos.

It is this greater degree of unity symbolized by the lulav that is at the root of the blessing which is made specifically over it. For the “four kinds” are taken on Sukkos in order to achieve unity among the Jewish people, something resulting directly from the Jews’ unity with G‑d6 and best expressed by the lulav — total devotion to Torah.

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, pp.1159-1161.