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Lulav Shortage

Posted by admin on October 11, 2011 in Spotlight |

As Succot approaches there is a global Lulav shortage. Egypt is one of the largest exporters of lulav’s. Due to the political instability in the middle east Egypt has banned farmers from exporting Lulav’s. This is causing global price hikes and shortages.
On Sukkot, we are commanded to wave the Four Species, each noted for its special beauty:
Esrog — the citron, a fragrant fruit with a thick, white rind. It is often picked from the tree while green, and then ripens to a bright yellow.
Lulav — the palm branch, which is defined in beauty by having a straight shape and leaves tightly bound.
Hadas — the myrtle branch, which has a beautiful plated pattern of three leaves coming out from the same point in the branch.
Arava — the willow branch, which should have oblong leaves with a smooth edge.
We bind all the branches together ― two willows on the left, one palm branch in the center, and three myrtles on the right. We then lift them together with the Esrog and shake it in all directions, as a symbol of God’s mastery over all Creation.
The Four Species are waved each day (except for Shabbat) in the synagogue, during the recitation of the Hallel prayers of praise. Hallel is followed by Hoshanot, where everyone circles a Torah scroll held on the Bima.
It is a special tradition to “beautify” this mitzvah by getting the nicest species available. At the very least, there are specific requirements to be valid for the mitzvah. Since the details are many and technical, it is not recommended to search through the forest on your own for these species! (Particularly the Esrog, which can easily be confused with a lemon.) Purchase a complete set from a reliable distributor; your local Jewish bookstore should have a “Four Species Set” with a rabbinical seal certifying their validity.
After the holiday, some have the custom to recycle the esrog as a “spice box” for use at Havdalah. In this way, the esrog goes “from one mitzvah to another.” Here’s how to do it: Buy a package of whole (not ground) cloves. Use an awl to make the holes, then place the cloves painstakingly into each hole. (Yes, this is a great way to keep kids occupied for hours on end.) Keep the cloved esrog in a box, to preserve the beautiful scent of the pungent citrusy etsrog mixing with the sweet ‘n spicy cloves. (A plastic container carries a higher risk of mildew.)

The Sukkah Hut
Building your own Sukkah is a great activity to share with your family and friends. The Sukkah must be at least 27×27 inches square. It can be built in a yard, apartment balcony, or even on the back of an elephant.
Your Sukkah needs at least three walls. The walls can be of any material, as long as they are sturdy enough to withstand a normal wind. The walls should be at least 38 inches high (96 cm), but not higher than 30 feet (9.6 m).
You don’t have to build walls especially for the Sukkah; you can use the side of a building, or even a hedge of bushes. And if you can find an area that is already enclosed by 2 or 3 walls, then your job will be that much easier!
The roof material (S’chach) must be made from material that grows from the ground ― i.e. branches or leaves (but not metal). If you’re using unfinished boards, they cannot be wider than 15 inches. Also, the material must be presently detached from the ground. This means that nothing can be overhanging your Sukkah — not a tree, a gutter, air-conditioning unit, etc.
The roof must be sufficiently covered so that it gives more shade than sun during the daytime, yet it should be sufficiently open so that the stars are visible through the roof at night. The roof material can only be added after the requisite number of walls are in place.
Since the Sukkah is designated as your “home” for the next seven days, it is customary to decorate it nicely. Many people hang fruits and flowers from the ceiling, and tape posters of Jerusalem and other Jewish themes on the walls.
It is also traditional to “welcome” the seven shepherds of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moshe, Aaron, Joseph and David) as guests (ushpizin) into one’s Sukkah throughout the festival.

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