web analytics
February 27, 2015 / 8 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post


The Broken Stem

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Loewenstein’s shtiebel on the second floor of the apartment house was packed tight one balmy Sukkot morning. Congregants jostled for space to place their spear-like lulavim and cotton-cradled etrogim. “Hold my etrog while I go outside for a moment,” said my father, “and mind the pitam, don’t drop it.”

Honored with the trust, I fondled the etrog carefully, but alas, it rolled out of my hands, and plunged headfirst onto the floor. Even before it hit the ground, I knew it. The worst had happened. The pitam, the stem, had broken off. I recall being down on my knees among the swaying tzitzit and flapping frock-coats trying to piece it back on. And then there was my father’s expression – even more horrified than when I dropped and broke his cordless mechanical shaver.

The arba minim, the four species of plants we are required to take on the festival of Sukkot, are mentioned in Leviticus. “And you shall take for yourselves on the first day, pri etz hadar, the fruits of the hadar tree, kapot temarim, branches of palm trees, ve’anaf etz avot, boughs of thick leaved trees, ve’arvei nachal and willows of the brook.

The Talmud interprets these words as referring to the following plants: Pri etz hadar means the etrog that is both beautiful (hadar) and resides (ha-dar) in trees all year round. Kapot temarim, which can also be read as kafut, bound-together temarim, means the lulav, shoots of date palms which in their early stages, before they fan out into palm branches, are tightly bound and spear shaped. Anaf etz avot (boughs of covered trees) means the hadas, the myrtle, because “avot” means braided, and the myrtle leaves look as though they are braided around the branch.

The lulav is bound with three myrtle branches on its right and two willow branches on its left. The lulav is held in the right hand and the etrog is held in the left hand. Although the Torah only commands us to pick up the arba minim, the rabbis require that we wave them in all four directions of the compass as well as upward and downward.

Achievements are often flaunted in all directions. The Torah reminds us that all achievements are gifts from God. And so on Sukkot, the rain festival, we wave the arba minim in all directions, acknowledging that God, the Rainmaker, brings the rains from the four corners of the earth. The Talmud in Sukkot tells us that waving the arba minim also wards off destructive winds that would otherwise drive harmful rain.

The lulav also symbolizes the scepter of victory with which we emerge after vanquishing the Yom Kippur prosecutor. Although the mitzvah of arba minim can be fulfilled at any time during the day, there is a close connection between the mitzvah of arba minim and the reciting of Hallel.
“Is it possible,” asks the Talmud, “to perform the mitzvah of lulav without reciting Hallel?” Accordingly, the lulav is waved when reciting certain verses of Hallel. During the Temple era, the lulav was taken inside the Temple on all seven days of Sukkot but outside the Temple on the first day only. After the destruction of the Temple, Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai ruled that the arba minim be taken on all seven days of Sukkot, everywhere. Accordingly, lulav on the first day is biblical and on the last six days rabbinical.

About the Author: Raphael Grunfeld’s book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Moed” (distributed by Mesorah) is available at OU.org and your local Jewish bookstore. His new book, “Ner Eyal on Seder Nashim & Nezikin,” will be available shortly.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Broken Stem”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Said Arikat, al-Quds Washington, D.C. reporter. Jan. 29, 2015
Said Says (Falsely): ‘Israel flooding Gaza with Waste Water’
Latest Judaism Stories
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

The Chasam Sofer answers that one of only prohibited from wearing a garment that contains shatnez if he does so while wearing the garment for pleasure purposes.

The-Shmuz

The avodah (service) of the kohen gadol is vital and highly sensitive; the world’s very existence depends on it.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Moreover, even if the perpetrator of the capital offense is never actually executed, such as when the fatal act was unintentional, Kam Lei applies and the judge cannot award damages.

Daf-Yomi-logo

Forever After?
‘Obligated for Challahh and Not Terumah’
(Kesubos 25a)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

“We really appreciate your efforts in straightening the shul,” said Mr. Reiss. “How is it going?”

This was a spontaneous act of rest after the miracle of vanquishing their respective foes. The following year they celebrated on the same days as a minhag.

The way we must to relate to our young adult children is to communicate with genuine loving-kindness

Jewish prayer is a convergence of 2 modes of biblical spirituality, exemplified by Moses and Aaron

In holy places it’s important to maintain a level of silence permitting people to dialogue with God

Eventually, after some trial and error, including an experience with a prima donna and one with a thief, I baruch Hashem ultimately found a fine, honest and reliable household helper.

What fish-like characteristics does this month have that it should be exemplified in such a way?

How the 3 partitions of the mishkan each relate to a layer of creation, aiding our connection to God

Havdalah.com will be streaming an inspiring/live/MUSICAL/global Havdalah(NOT to fulfill obligation)

What about the Temple service required God to intervene commanding Aaron what he needed to wear?

More Articles from Raphael Grunfeld
Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

Moreover, even if the perpetrator of the capital offense is never actually executed, such as when the fatal act was unintentional, Kam Lei applies and the judge cannot award damages.

Grunfeld-Raphael-logo

One of the purposes of the ketubah money is to make it difficult for a husband to capriciously divorce his wife.

A more difficult situation arises when there is no evidence placing the missing husband at the site of the death.

The court cannot solely rely on death certificates issued by non-Jewish institutions without conducting its own investigation into the facts of the case.

When the inability cannot be clearly attributed to either spouse, the halacha is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.

The child of a Jewish mother from a union with a non-Jewish father is not a mamzer.

Although the conversion ceremony involves more than circumcision and immersion, these are the two essential requirements, without which the conversion is ineffective.

If a man dies childless, the Torah commands the deceased’s brother to marry his brother’s widow in a ceremony known as yibum, or to perform a special form of divorce ceremony with her known as chalitzah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/the-broken-stem/2014/03/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: