The Significance of the Lulav and Etrog All Year Long

In Parshat Emor we read about the different holidays, the last one being Sukkot.


One may wonder why we read about Sukkot now and if there is a message from the Lulav and Etrog that we can take with us throughout the year.


In Vayikra 23:40 we read: “You shall take for yourselves, on the first day, the fruit of a beautiful tree (etrog), a branch of palms (lulav), boughs of thick-leaved trees (hadasim) and willows of the brook (aravot) and shall rejoice before HaShem your God for seven days”.


Why do we specifically take these species on Sukkot?


According to Rashi in Masechet Taanit 2a, the Lulav, Etrog, Hadasim and Aravot are dependent on rain for their survival. By holding them we highlight the fact that the world cannot exist without rain and we thereby entreat God for a favorable decision on the world’s rainfall for the year.


These species can teach us a lesson that we can apply throughout the year which is that we should not take the rain for granted and that it should be appreciated.


After using the four species throughout the holiday of Sukkot, as the holiday is about to come to a close, on Shmini Atzeret, we once again begin saying “Mashiv HaRuach U”Morid HaGashem”, “God makes the wind blow and the rain fall”. This prayer is only introduced after we have held and felt these species all week, giving us an opportunity to feel a spiritual connection to nature, gearing up for a winter where we should be saying those words in the Shmoneh Esrei each day with kavana (intent) as opposed to by rote.


In Israel, there is always a concern that there will not be enough rain. Throughout the winter season we wait with baited breath to see if enough rain will fall.


On the first day of Pesach, we stop saying “Mashiv HaRuach U’Morid HaGashem” and in Israel we say “Morid HaTal”, “God makes the dew fall” until the end of Sukkot when we start the cycle again.


The four species in essence help us “kick off” the rainy season and teach us not to take anything for granted.