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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Four Species of Sukkot

(Waving of the Four Species)
Sukkot (aka "Feast of Tabernacles" or "Feast of Booths"), is one of only three biblical holidays which mandated that adherents journey to Jerusalem.  The Hebrew word sukkot refers to the booths (walled structures - "tabernacles" covered with plant material) that the Israelites lived in during their forty-year desert Exodus.  This biblical "Feast of Ingathering" has strong agricultural roots.   

Wikipedia reports that in Leviticus 23:40 the following four Sukkot plants are specified:  ets hadar ("magnificent trees" – identified by
the Talmud as etrog "the fruit of a citron tree), tamar ("palm trees" - identified by the Talmud as lulav "a ripe, green, closed frond from a date palm tree"), ets avoth ("boughs of thick trees" -
identified by the Talmud as hadass "boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree"), and aravah ("willows of the brook" – identified by the Talmud as aravah "branches with leaves from the willow tree").

Eliyahu Kitov of explains that these Four Species "also allude to the body."  Vayikra Rabbah 30 compares the spine of the lulav to a human spine, the hadas to the eye, the aravah to the mouth, and the etrog to the heart.  That is because each of the Species (fruit, leaves, etc.) is somewhat similar in shape to these corresponding body parts.  Utilizing all Four Species together during Sukkot rituals symbolizes the dedication of one's entire being to God.


Copyright September 30, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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