How To Shake a Lulav

One of the special components of Sukkot is the Four Species, Arba Minim, aka lulav and etrog.

The four species are:

1. Lulav - Palm branch

2. Hadas - Myrtle branches

3. Aravot - Willow branches

4. Etrog - Citron

The Four Species are held together and waved or shaken on each day of Sukkot.

The source of the mitzvah comes from the book of Leviticus.

(מ) וּלְקַחְתֶּ֨ם לָכֶ֜ם בַּיּ֣וֹם הָרִאשׁ֗וֹן פְּרִ֨י עֵ֤ץ הָדָר֙ כַּפֹּ֣ת תְּמָרִ֔ים וַעֲנַ֥ף עֵץ־עָבֹ֖ת וְעַרְבֵי־נָ֑חַל וּשְׂמַחְתֶּ֗ם לִפְנֵ֛י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם שִׁבְעַ֥ת יָמִֽים׃
(40) On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.

The Torah doesn't give an explanation of why we shake the Four Species or why we use these particular plants.

Different explanations have been suggested over the ages. What do they each symbolize? Why do we hold them all together when we shake them?

Discover a variety of ideas and come up with some of your own.

  • Open the above source from Leviticus in its full version. Click on "Leviticus 23:40" to open the text in a new tab. Search through the commentaries, Talmud, midrash that are connected to it in the sidebar.
  • Read sheets that are connected to the text in the sidebar.
  • Read the sheet Symbolism of the Arba Minim for a collection of interpretations.
  • Check out the #lulav topics page for additional sources and sheets.

Which ideas did you like the best? What do they each represent to you? Write your ideas below in a comment.

Before shaking the lulav, a blessing is said. [Note: Hold the etrog with the stem/pitom down. Turn it to pointing up when you do the actual shaking] Like all first times (first time you eat a new fruit, read the megillah, sit in a sukkah) the additional blessing of Shehechiyanu is said the first time that you shake the lulav.

For detailed instructions, click here.

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוׂתָיו, וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת לוּלָב: בפעם הראשון שמברך על הלולב מברך גם שהחיינו: בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְמַן הַזֶּה:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us concerning the waving of the lulav.

The first time that you say the blessing, add the Shehechiyanu prayer:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustenance, and permitted us to reach this season.

The Four Species are waved in all of the directions: East, South, West, North, up and down. Another way of thinking of it is in front of you, to the right, behind you, to the left, up, and down.

Now it's your turn!

Share what you have learned about shaking the lulav with your family, class, school, or the world.

Make a sheet on Sefaria with instructions, explanations, images, and videos about the Arba Minim. Take photographs or make your own video and add it to the sheet. Send the URL to anyone you would like to share it with or list the sheet on Sefaria by clicking "yes" to listing in the Share menu.