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The Intriguing Four Species

What are the Four Species?

The Four Species are four, specific natural species that Jewish people are commanded to take on the Jewish holiday of Succot and to hold them together and shake them in all directions at various times on Succot.
The Four Species are;

  • Etrog- Citron
  • Lulav- Palm Branch
  • Hadassim- Myrtle Branches
  • Aravot- Willow Branches

What is the origin of the Four Species?

The commandment to take the Four Species originates in the Bible, in the book of Leviticus, in the section called Emor (23:40). The exact wording there is as follows; ” And you shall take for yourselves on the First Day the fruit of a beautiful tree, the branches of date palms, branches of the myrtle tree and branches of the willow tree, and you shall rejoice before HaShem, your G-d for seven days.”

What is the symbolism of the Four Species?

  • A possible explanation for the waving of the four species as a unified group is that one takes these four elements of nature and demonstrates that G-d rules over nature everywhere at all times.
  • Another explanation relates to the tastes and aromas of the Four Species;
    • The Etrog has both a pleasant taste and aroma and thereby symbolizes one who is knowledgeable in Torah and performs good deeds.
    • The Lulav has a good taste but no aroma, representing one who has Torah knowledge but not good deeds.
    • The Hadassim have a pleasant aroma only, representing a person with good deeds but no knowledge of Torah.
    • The Aravot have neither a pleasant taste nor pleasant aroma and thereby represent one who has no knowledge of the Torah and does not perform good deeds.

The holding of the Four Species together represents the unity that G-d wishes for there to be among His people.

 

  • Additionally, the shape of each of the Four Species also holds an interesting message.
  • The Etrog resembles a heart and this represents the driving force behind all our actions.
    • The Lulav represents the spine which holds the body together and without it we would not be able to move.
    • The Hadassim represent the eyes with their almond-shape and it is through our eyes that we behold G-d’s World.
    • The Aravot resemble the lips and we use our lips to express our thoughts and feelings.

By holding all of the Four Species together we are showing that a person should devote all of his\her strengths and capacities to serving G-d.

Rivkah Ben Yisrael is writing about Jewish customs and gifts at blog.canaan-online.com.
If you are also intrested in gift shopping for the Jewish holidays, I recommend that you check: http://www.canaan-online.com/jewish_holidays_s/21.htm
photo by sxc.hu (royalty free)


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