Tzemach Yehudah Richter
Tzemach Yehudah Richter

Aravot (Willow) And The Missing Jew During Sukkot


Now that Sukkot is behind us, we need to focus on Jews who, for whatever reason, were not aware or did not know about the Holiday of Sukkot. The four species we are commanded to obtain during Sukkot – Lulav, Etrog, Hadassim and Aravot – each have a unique quality which can be compared to four different types of Jews.

Four Types Of Jews Represented By The Four Species

Taste and Smell represent the traits of being knowledgeable in Torah which obviously helps with the performance of good deeds or Mitzvahs.

The Etrog has both a nice taste and smell.

Regarding the date palm, the date has a pleasant taste, but the Lulav has no smell.

The Hadassim have a pleasant smell but no taste.

The Aravot have neither smell nor taste.


The Etrog represents a person who studies Torah and fulfills the Mitzvas,

The Lulav represents one who studies Torah but does not perform Mitzvas,

The Hadassim represents one who fulfills Mitzvas but does not study Torah,

The Aravot represents one who neither studies Torah nor observes Mitzvas.

The only specie that lacks both is the Aravot.

Aravot Need To Be Bound Together With The Lulav

Although Aravot seems to be insignificant compared to the other species, G-d insists it must still be included in the Mitzvah bound with the Lulav and Haddasim.

A Clear Message For All Jews

It would therefore seem that All Jews should take a very strong example from the joining of the Lulav and Etrog. Since we represent a small minority of the world’s population, but we continue to be the target of many terrorist and Anti-Semitic attacks, we must now “bind” together just like we are commanded to do for the Lulav and Etrog. That also means to look out for our fellow Jew wherever he or she may be.

I want to be clear that I do not intend to classify anyone who was not fortunate to have the opportunity to observe Sukkot similar to Aravot because there may be a number of reasons, he or she could not perform the Mitzvah which were beyond their control, and this is understandable.

Reading between the lines COVID19 could be one of them because of the lack of taste or smell. We have an obligation to pray for the full recovery of those affected. But that’s not the subject here.

I am referring rather to a Jew who is unaware of this special Holiday of Sukkot and needs to be shown what it means and how it is to be celebrated. Of course, that applies to the other Mitzvahs and Holidays as well. That Jew is willing to learn and experience celebrating Sukkot and all other Chagim but never had the opportunity to do so.

Another Observation About The Aravot

If you have purchased a set of the four species, you will know that of all four, the Aravot are the most difficult to keep fresh looking for the duration of Sukkot. They dry out much sooner than the Haddasim and many times need to be changed.

It is quite important for at least two reasons that I want to mention- 1) Keeping the Aravot kosher and 2) not being embarrassed with non-kosher Aravot in Shul while standing and saying Hallel as well as circling the Bema saying Hoyshanas.

Not only must we have in mind that we are trying to make a good impression for our fellow daveners, but we also are standing in front of G-d himself.

I have the many families in Minneapolis and Chabad in St. Paul to thank for their patience and hospitality while becoming Shomer Shabbat and letting me experience Sukkot.

And a special mention to the Lubavitcher Rebbe ZT”L for his vision that has resulted in Chabad Houses throughout the world, from which many Jews had the opportunity to celebrate Sukkot properly this past week.  An opportunity they most likely would have missed without the help of Chabad.










About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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