Four Species, One Person by Tzvi Silver


In Parashat Emor, the Torah tells us that we should take a Lulav on the first day of Sukkot. The Midrash draws a comparison between this “first day” and the first day that we began sinning. But how are these two seemingly incomparable themes – one the performance a Mitzvah, the other the origin of all sin – connected?

A famous comment of Chazal tells us that the Arba Minim, the four species of vegetation that we are commanded to use on Sukkot, represent four different categories of Jews of ranging piety, from the inwardly and outwardly righteous Jew to the completely immoral one. Furthermore, the Mitzvah to take these four species together to fulfill the commandment of Arba Minim represents uniting these different categories of Jews. The Kli Yakar adds that by starting the new year with this Mitzvah, we immediately distance ourselves from sin after the repentance of the High Holidays.

Parashat Emor is read each year during the days of Sefirat HaOmer that lead up to Shavuot. This teaches us a crucial lesson at this important time, as we focus on rectifying the misdeeds of Rabi Akiva’s students and prepare ourselves to re-accept the Torah. The Or HaChaim teaches (Shemot 15:2) that one of the steps Bnei Yisrael had to take when preparing to receive the Torah was to obtain a level of Achdut, unity. This lesson is also true for the modern day reenactment of the giving of the Torah, Chag HaShavuot.

Rabbeinu Bachya adds that the unity that is mentioned can more specifically be defined as praying for the needs, be they spiritual or physical, of fellow members of Bnei Yisrael. Chazal also add that the Arba Minim parallel four body parts. Since Klal Yisrael is considered to be one body, when we see the figurative statement of the Arba Minim and the unity of these “body parts” to fulfill a Mitzvah of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, we are able to realize our true potential of KeIsh Achad BeLeiv Achad, existing as one entity with one heart.

-Adapted from a Devar Torah given by Rabbi Aryeh Brueckheimer

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