One of the requirements for the mitzvah of lulav is that one fully own the lulav set (hereafter “lulav”) that one uses on the first day of Sukkot. One may not use a borrowed lulav.1 Therefore, one who does not have a lulav of one’s own must ask someone for their lulav “as a gift” in order to be able to recite the blessing and fulfill the mitzvah.2 On the remaining days of Sukkot, however, one may use a borrowed lulav for the mitzvah. This is because the mitzvah of lulav on the remaining days of Sukkot is rabbinical in nature, unlike the first day of Sukkot, when it is biblical in nature. For this reason, the halachot relating to the mitzvah of lulav are more stringent on the first day of Sukkot.3 Outside of Israel, where there are two days of Yom Tov, the second day of Sukkot is treated like the first day, and one must own the lulav one uses on both days.4
Based on the above, one must not give one’s lulav to a child, even one’s own child, to shake on the first day of Sukkot. This is because according to Torah law, a child is able to acquire ownership of something (in this case, the lulav), but is not able to transfer ownership to someone else. As such, one who gives one’s lulav and etrog to a child to shake will be unable to acquire it back to fulfill the mitzvah oneself!5 For this reason, a child should not even be allowed to sell any of the four species that are to be used on the first day of Sukkot.6
Although one might think that the solution to this problem is to allow one’s child to recite the blessing on one’s lulav with the explicit condition that the child does not acquire the lulav, this is incorrect. This is because, as part of the mitzvah of chinuch, the mitzvah for a father to educate his son in the performance of mitzvot, the father must ensure that his son properly fulfills the mitzvah in every way, including complying with the requirement to own one’s lulav. Furthermore, some say that even a child is obligated to recite the blessing on his own lulav. Therefore, one should not allow one’s child to simply recite the blessing on one’s lulav.7
In Israel, this issue does not pose much of a problem. This is because one can fulfill the mitzvah with one’s lulav as required on the morning of the first day of Sukkot and then give it to one’s child for him to fulfill the mitzvah.8 Since there is no requirement for one to own the lulav used on the remaining days of Sukkot, one may use the lulav that one “gave” to the child. Outside of Israel, however, where the second day of Sukkot is treated like the first day, one would not have a lulav to use on the second day of Sukkot if one gave the lulav to a child on the first day. The child now owns the lulav and is unable to transfer it back to you for you to use on the second day!
The preferred solution to this problem is to buy children their own lulav sets.9 This can be a basic kosher set that meets the minimum halachic standard, which is usually inexpensive. If this is not possible, one may give one’s lulav to one’s child to use on the first day of Sukkot in the Diaspora in the following way: After using the lulav on the first day of Sukkot, give it to a child and declare, “If today is the first day of Sukkot, I am granting you this lulav as a gift. If, however, the first day of Yom Tov is tomorrow, and today is Erev Sukkot, then I am merely lending you this set and it is not a gift.” One can then use the lulav on the next day.10 If this too is not an option, there are authorities who rule that there is no need for a child to own the lulav he uses. According to this approach, one may allow one’s child to recite the blessing on a lulav without any “transfer of ownership” issues to worry about.11
There is a view that a child is able to transfer ownership of an object when a mitzvah is involved. According to this approach, one who mistakenly gave one’s lulav to a child on the first day of Sukkot (or on the second day in the Diaspora) before fulfilling the mitzvah, should ask the child for the lulav back as a gift. One may then use the lulav and recite the accompanying blessing(s)12 Alternatively, and, possibly preferably, one should ask to have an adult’s lulav “as a gift” in order to recite the blessing and fulfill the mitzvah. One can then use one’s original lulav for Hallel.13 Some authorities advise one not to give a child one’s lulav at any time on the first day of Sukkot (and second day in the Diaspora), even after fulfilling the mitzvah, lest one encounter an adult who did not yet shake a lulav that day and will need to “own” a lulav.14
1 Vayikra 23:40; Sukka 29b.
2 OC 658:3-5,9.
3 Rashi, Sukka 29b. After the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai decreed that the lulav should be shaken every day of Sukkot, “zecher l’mikdash”, to remember how it was done in the Beit HaMikdash. See Sukka 41a.
4 OC 649:5; Mishna Berura 649:51.
5 Rambam, Hilchot Lulav 8:10.
6 Kaf Hachaim, OC 658:66; Ketav Sofer 128.
7 Igrot Moshe, OC 3:95. See also Magen Avraham 215:6.
8 Sukka, 46b; Mishna Berura 648:24,25.
9 Igrot Moshe, OC 3:95.
10 Bikkurei Yosef, OC 658:18.
11 OC 657:1; Mishna Berura 658:28.
12 See Biur Halacha 658, s.v. Yitnenu and Machaze Avraham, OC 144.
13 Mishna Beura 649:51.
14 Kaf Hachaim, OC 658:56.