Translation:Arukh ha-Shulchan/Orach Chaim/645

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Translation:Arukh ha-Shulchan by Yechiel Michel Epstein, translated from Hebrew by Wikisource
Orach Chaim 645
The laws of the Lulav

This chapter contains twenty one sections: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21

Section 1[edit]

It is a positive commandment to take on the first day of Sukkos the four species: the 'Esrog', 'Lulav', 'Hadasim' and 'Aravos', as it is written "Take for yourselves on the first day [of Sukkot], the fruit of the beautiful [citron] tree, tightly bound branches of date palms, the branch of the braided [myrtle] tree, and willows of the brook...". The tradition that has come down to us teaches that the "fruit of the hadar tree" is the Esrog, the "date palm fronds" is the Lulav, the "branch of a braided tree" is the Hasdas, and the "willows of the brook" are the Aravos. The verse is also expounded in this fashion by the Talmud.

What then, exactly, is the Lulav? In the growth of a date-palm tree the Lulav are the branches that begin to exit the date-palm trunk when they are one shaft of wood, like an arrow. After this phase they begin to open a bit and the leaves begin to separate, though they are still attached to each other. As they continue to grow they become softer [IS THIS CORRECT?], though are still attached to each other. After a length of time on the tree they begin to separate from each other, and become like tree branches, distant from one another. If they remain on the tree for an extended period they harden and become solid wood. This is the process of a Lulav's growth.

Section 2[edit]

The Sages have taught in the Mishna in the beginning of chapter 'Lulav Hagozul' (Gemara Sukkah, 29.2): "If its leaves have spread - it is kosher. If they are separated, it is invalid."

Rashi explains that 'spread' means that they are connected to the spine but are spread out towards their tops to one side and the other as are the branches of a tree, and are kosher [valid for use] even if they are not touching at the top. 'Separated' means that the leaves are disconnected from the spine, and they are not attached at all, each one being separate, and though one binds them up together, it is still invalid.

However, the Tosafos do not explain 'separated' that way, as the law in that case would be obvious. Instead, they explain that each leaf of a Lulav is doubled [two leaves], and 'separated' is what it is called when each of the leaves have split into two, though they are still attached together at the spine, and that is invalid.

The Rif and Rambam (in chapter eight) explain that it means they are dangling from the spine, though still attached partially, like the branches [CORRECT?] of a date-palm.

In terms of practical law, a Lulav that is invalid according to any of these authorities is considered invalid.

Secrion 3[edit]

When it is witten that a Lulav with 'spread' leaves is kosher, that is true even if all the leaves spread. When it is written that 'separated' leaves are invalid, that is true when the majority are separated. According to the Tosfos, this rule would be explained as follows: That if the majority of the leaves have split into their two parts the Lulav is invalid. How much would need to be split? Most of the length of each leaf along the entire length of the Lulav (see the Beis Yosef).

It appears to me that if all the leaves became 'separated' along one side of the Lulav it would also be invalidated. However, if the majority of one side became 'separated' while the entire Lulav still maintained a majority of non-separated leaves the Lulav remains valid.

Regarding a 'spread out' Lulav, it is valid as long as the leaves have not hardened as wood, and can still be tied together. If they have hardened as wood, and it has become impossible to tie them so they are touching the spine, the Lulav is invalid.

Now even though a 'separated' Lulav is valid, the preferred way to perform this Mitzvah is to take a Lulav whose leaves are not separated at all. If one does take one that is separated, it is proper to tie the leaves together so that that the Lulav appears more beautiful.

Section 4[edit]

If the Lulav's spine has become broken and bent over - it is not necessary to say that if the breakage is found on a majority of its width it is invalid, for even if a small breakage has formed, bending the Lulav over and preventing it from standing up straight, it is rendered invalid for all seven days, since this can in no way be considered 'beautiful in appearance'. If, however, it has not broken, though is bent somewhat due to its softness, one may bind it [so that it straightens] and it is permitted for use.

There is an opinion that wishes to validate a Lulav with a broken spine just as an animal with a broken spine is kosher for slaughter (Magen Avraham, comment 2). This analogy is completely incorrect, however, for there the spinal cord still maintains the animal's skeleton. More to the point, this Lulav still can't be considered 'beautiful', so what connection can be drawn between these two disparate subjects? (See the Eliyahu Rabah and the Sharei Teshuva for similar comments).

Section 5[edit]

It states in the Talmud (Gemara Sukkah, 32.1): "If the twin parts of the leaf became separated, the Lulav is invalid." Our Rabbis have debated what these 'twin parts' are. The Rif and the Rambam explain that this refers to every leaf on the Lulav, for the natural growth of a Lulav is such that every leaf is really two, and they are connected at the back and may appear like two from the front. Therefore, if most of the leaves of the Lulav are split along most of their length it is invalidated. If only a minority are separated, even if it is among the top leaves, it is valid and may be used.

Section 6[edit]

On the other hand, Rashi explains that this refers to "the two top middle leaves, that is, the last two leaves on top that sprout from where the spine terminates, and these two leaves became separated from each other, splitting the spine until the leaves that are below them." Until here is the quote.

Now the Lulavs we have today are not found to have these middle leaves, rather they only have one. The Rosh himself quotes Rashi's comments, though his text does not state "the two top middle leaves". Instead, he writes "the top leaves" (see there). And why does Rashi mention that the spine is split? It appears that Rashi directed his explanation in accordance with the context of the Talmud there, where the previous case was a split spine which was ruled valid, so the following case of 'separation' must also refer to an invalidation in the spine, not the leaves.

Know further that in Gemara Baba Kama (96.1) Rashi defined 'twin' as "the top middle branch of a date palm frond - this is the twin". Until here is the quote. It appears that he follows the same definition in Gemara Sukkah, and his meaning is that the top middle leaf is actually two leaves, called ‘twins’, and not as we have explained, that there is one doubled leaf on top that can be split into two, for why would this leaf stand out as the twin, every leaf on the Lulav has this property? It must have been that the species of Lulav they used had two top leaves that rose up equally.

As a note, there are those who find that Rashi's definition in Baba Kama does not agree with his in Sukkah, for example the Terumos Hadeshen (Chapter 96), though in my humble opinion it does not seem so.

Section 7[edit]

Tosfos and the Rosh both report that the text of the Gaonim implies that Lulavs have two leaves on top. They also add that the these two leaves are tightly connected to each other, and if they become separated they render the Lulav invalid. Tosfos and the Rosh then exclaim that "if this is so, we would never find a valid Lulavs, even one in five hundred!" Their meaning is that though it might be possible to find a Lulav with two top leaves, finding one that has them tightly connected was next to impossible. Therefore, they interpret the intent of the Gaonim to be that if they were tightly connected and became separated the Lualv is invalid, but if they never were tightly connected when they grew the Lulav is valid.

When we the consider our Lulavs, we are not able to find any Lulavs with two middle leaves, connected or not. In our communities we only find Lulavs with one middle leaf. Therefore, even if most of this one leaf is split the Lulav is not invalidated either according to the Rif, Rambam, Rashi, or the Gaonim. It is not invalid according to the Rif and the Rambam because they require the majority of the leaves to be split; it is not invalid according to Rashi, for even if he would consider our one leaf to be as two he only invalidates splits in the spine itself. Finally, it is not invalid according to the Gaonim because they specifically require two leaves that have separated from each other.

(In the BaHag it is written:

"This is the top of the leaves, when they are connected to each other...etc". The Tosfos take hold of the position of the Gaonim, while the Rosh writes that his intent is as the Rif, and so it seems (see there). The Aruch, in his definition for 'Twin' (Heb. Ti'im), writes in line with the Rif's position, though afterwards he quoes Rav Hai Gaon as follows: "The twin we are speaking of has two senses in definition: a) Two connected in their growth, and b) One that is two halves, separate on the top and just slightly connected on the bottom."

Until here is the quote, though it is not easy to understand at all. In the work Tamim Dayim, authored by the Ra'avad, in chapter 232, the text is also in a vein similar to that of the Rif (see there). Furthermore, the position of the Talmud Yirushalmi is as the Rif and Rambam, for it states there: "If its leaves have spread out, it has become just like one whose twin was divided". It is seen from the context that the 'divided twin' is defined as all the leaves, just as 'spread out leaves' is speaking of all the leaves.)

Section 8[edit]

In terms of settled law, our teacher the Beis Yosef only mentions the position of the Rif and Rambam. The Rema comments on this as follows:

"There are commentators who say that if the middle top leaf is split all the way down to the spine it is also called 'a separated twin', and is invalid. This is our custom. However, the preferred practice is to take a Lulav whose middle leaf is not split at all, since there are those who are stringent with even a small separation. If the middle leaf grew as a single leaf without a twin the Lulav is invalid."

Until here is the quote. Note that his words seem to be taken directly from the Terumos haDeshen (responsa 96), who writes as follows:

"It appears to be that one should comport himself according to one of the explanations of Rashi...etc...that if the middle leaf, which is doubled like the other leaves, separated into two, that is called 'a separated twin'. In addition, it is not called 'separated' until it separates below the leaf. The Ohr Zerua extends a even more lenient opinion, that the spine must be separated as well until the leaf below the top one, and he contends that that is the 'separated twin' according to Rashi. On this ruling Rabbi Yitzchak of the Ohr Zerua writes 'I rely on Rashi's position for the practical law.’ The language of the Smak also implies that one could validate a Lulav via Rashi's position. I have also seen one of the great legal authorities permit Lulavs for use when their top middle leaf had a split that measured the width of a finger, or even greater."

Until here is the quote.

Section 9[edit]

When one considers his words and understanding of Rashi in Gemara Baba Kama, it becomes clear that he must have had a variant text, and when he writes 'until it separates below the leaf' he means until the absolute bottom of the leaf and even a bit lower. On this the Ohr Zerua asserts his leniency that the spine must also be separated until the bottom of the leaf below.

Now I do not know why he attributes this leniency to the Ohr Zerua, since Rashi himself explains in this manner in Gemara Sukkos, and the Ohr Zerua himself states that he relies on Rashi, and that is why he would only invalidate if the spine was separated. In fact, when he concludes with his experience with the great authorities who permitted a split middle leaf that measure a finger width or more, that 'more' would have to include quite a bit more, since the demarcation would only be reached when the spine became split. On this our teacher the Rema seems to have found his source of invalidating a Lulav whose leaf split down to the spine, though I am not sure how he would come to this conclusion if he follow the Ohr Zerua, since the Ohr Zerua stated that invalidation requires the spine to be split as well. As to why the Rema does not adhere to that specification requires further study.

Section 10[edit]

Truly, the Rema’s entire ruling surprises me: The Rif, Rambam, Ra'vaad, BeHag, and the Gaonim do not consider the separation of the single middle leaf to be an invalidating factor, the explanation of Rashi in Gemara Sukkah does not recognize an invalidation if the spine has not separated, and even the explanation of Rashi in Gemara Baba Kama supports that position. Furthermore, even if the Terumos Hadeshen was to adhere to the position that if the whole leaf split it is invalid, why should one approach in Rashi overrule his own commentary in Sukkah, as well as all these rabbinical authorities? Even the Yirushalmi has an explanation that is not in line with Rashi's, as I have noted. Moreover, the Ran himself advances Rashi's explanation only to reject it, commenting that it is merely an appropriate stringency that one should adopt (see there). The Rashba in Baba Kama also understands Tosafos to be in agreement with Rashi's alternate explanation that we find in our texts of Gemara Sukkah. In fact, the Rashba, Ran, and Magid Mishna all agree that the law is as the Rif and the Rambam state - that 'separating' means a majority of all the leaves (see there).

If this be so, even were one to find an opposing position in one commentary of Rashi, why invalidate Lulavs on that basis? Don't we always follow the majority in all of Torah law? This is not even a real dissenting opinion, for even Rashi himself explains that it is valid in Gemara Sukkah. Why did our teacher the Rema see fit to be so stringent in his ruling? This requires further study.

(I have found similarly in the Hagaos HaSamak [mitzvah 191, note 304], though that has had seemingly little effect. [IS THIS CORRECT?] This issue requires more study.)

Section 11[edit]

Considering all this, in appears in my humble understanding that regarding the actual law this much seems clear: Since the pronouncement of the Rema is as it is, one should not take a Lulav whose middle leave has been split over it's majority when another can be obtained. If another is unavailable, as in a small village and the like, one can pronounce the blessing on this Lulav even on the first day of the festival, without any doubt as to the correctness of such behavior, since it is valid according to the majority view. Certainly we, whose Lulavs come from Italy, most of which are split - as long as the split is less than half of the leaf we should not be particular.

Section 12[edit]

If the Lulav's natural growth produced single leaves that are not doubled (having a twin), or all the doubled leaves grew along one side leaving the other bare - these are disqualified. If there are leaves on both sides, though one side they are not doubled, the Lulav is valid if most of the leaves are doubled. If not, the Lulav is invalid, as the condition of the majority of the leaves determines its validity.

Our teacher the Rema writes that if the top middle leaf grew without a twin the Lulav is invalid. This follows his position, which is that the 'twin' referred to is that of the top middle leaf, which is the critical criteria. However, as has been shown, this is not the opinion of the majority of our Rabbis. Even if one were to accept his ruling that a separation in the middle leaf disqualifies the Lulav, I would not be able to conclude from this that one that has grown without a twin is disqualified. After all, when the middle leaf has separated perhaps the Lulav no longer fulfills the requirement of beauty, and therefore this is not a proper 'taking of the Lulav' as the verse intended. However, the fact that the middle leaf has no twin is not able to be noticed, so how can it be an impediment to its beauty and a disqualification? This requires further study.

Section 13[edit]

If the leaves do not rest one upon the other after the manner of most Lulavs, instead being one below the other, the Lulav will only be valid if each leaf reaches the base of the one above, thereby causing the whole spine to be covered with leaves. If the top of each leaf does not reach the base of the one above, or there are not many leaves that rest one upon the other as it grew instead with one long frond on each side that started near the base and ran to the top of the spine - these Lulavs are invalid, as they are not termed 'beautiful'.

The language of the Talmud [Sukkah (32.1] is "These Lulavs that have leaves all to one side are blemished, and invalid for use." All the laws discussed in this section are based on this general rule.

Although one leaf on each side is not valid, if two leaves grew on each side of the Lulav [and thereby covered the spine] the Lulav is valid for use.

(When we write that the Lulav 'does not have many leaves' - we are quoting the language of the Tur and Shulchan Aruch in section 4. Though this is their language it is not to be taken as literal, that many leaves are required, as it is just said after the natural growth of a Lulav. Attend to the sources and this will be clear.)

Section 14[edit]

When the majority of a Lulav’s leaves have dried out it is invalid, for it is not longer 'beautiful'. The same applies if the spine dried out, even if the leaves did not. This situation is not often found however, as the leaves will always dry out before the spine (Beis Yosef). How does one measure drying out? When the appearance of green has left and its front turns white.

Our teacher the Rema writes in section 5:

"There are those who say a Lulav is not considered dried out unless one's fingernail can cause the leaves to crumble, and that is our custom in these countries, where Lulavs are not easy to obtain."

Until here is his language, and this a substantial leniency, as once the green color has left it is certainly dried out. One should be very careful in this matter (Taz, comment 5). Certainly in our day, where there is a large Lulav import trade, as well as locally grown Lulavs and Hadasim, one should not say a blessing over a withered Lulav. This is certainly true on the first day of Sukkos, when the Lulav obligation is Biblical. However, do note that in chapter 649 the Rambam's position is quoted and it is seen that he does rule that a dry Lulav is valid.

Section 15[edit]

It further appears to me that if the Lulav were left to soak in water and thereby its green color returned somewhat, as we have seen from experience, it is not considered dried out and is valid for use [IS THIS CORRECT?]. This is the approach followed in many areas of law. For example, if dried blood could become liquefied by being soaked in water it is not considered dried out even in its current state, as I have written in Yoreh Deah, chapter 188 in regard to a ‘Niddah’ (see there). We have also learnt similarly in Gemara Niddah, in the beginning of chapter seven:

“ A abnormal seminal discharge (Heb. ‘Zav’), or the thick mucus, spit, or thin spit of a one who is a ‘Zav’, ‘Niddah’ or ‘Metzora’ [various ritually unclean states], a ritually unclean creature (‘Sheretz’), part of the carcass of a dead animal (‘Nevelah’), and semen - All these render objects unfit (Heb. ‘Tumah’) for contact with sanctified objects when moist, but not when dry. If they are dry, but can become moist again if they are soaked, they do convey ‘Tumah’...”. (see there)

So it is by all objects that change state - we always estimate the present state, as the Mishna teaches in Uktzin in chapter 2, Mishna 8, and as noted in Gemara Menachos (54.1). [ISN”T THE PRESENT STATE DRY? HOW IS ‘CAN BECOME’ CONSIDERED THE PRESENT?]

As far as the concern of ‘Dichui’ [that an object can not change its legal status on Shabbos or the festival, and once rejected it stays so for the duration of that observance], if the Lulav returned to a green hue before the festival there was no rejection on the festival, and if it returned to green during the festival we can use the rule that ‘Dichui’ can not prevent the fulfilling of religious commands, as is explained in chapter 646 in regard to the ‘Hadas’ [myrtle branch used with the Lulav], (see there).

Section 16[edit]

We have learnt in the Minsha: ”If the tip is cut off it is invalid”, for it is no longer beautiful (Rashi thereon). The Rosh, Tur, and Shulchan Aruch in section 6 explain the Mishna to mean that the Lulav is invalid if most of upper leaves have been cut off. The Tosfos understand this Mishna to refer to the top two middles leaves (see there). Clearly this would only apply to a Lulav that has two top middle leaves, and while they had Lulavs that grew in this manner, the ones we possess do not have two middle leaves (as I have written in section 6). For our purposes, this explanation would invalidate Lulavs that had the top middle leaf cut (the critical ‘twin’ leaf), and that is the view of the Magid Mishna in chapter eight, law three, where he writes: “It is correct to say that what was cut off was the top leaf, where the Lulav terminates”. Until here is the quote.

Our teacher the Rema writes as follows in section 6: ”If the top middle leaf on the spine was cut off it is invalid. This is only true if there is another Lulav to be had. If there is no other one may pronounce the blessing on this Lulav.” Until here is the quote. There are questions raised on this statement:

  • Shouldn’t the text have been phrased ‘There are others who state’, since this is not the majority position, which limits the invalidation to when the majority of the leaves are cut off (Taz, comment 6)?
  • The authority who allows a blessing to be made is the Mordechai, who is referring specifically to the Hadas, not the Lulav. In fact, the Yirushalmi clearly states that if a Lulav were cut it is invalid, since it is no longer beautiful (Magen Avraham, comment 6). The reason the Hadas enjoys this leniency is because the Talmud (Gemara Sukkah, 34.2) rules that a hadas is still valid if all the tops of all three twigs were cut off. There is no such statement made about a Lulav. Therefore, a Lulav that is cut should be invalid for all seven days.

Section 17[edit]

In spite of the above, the Rema’s words appear correct to me. Even though the Tur does define this law as requiring a majority of the leaves, and he takes his ruling from the Rosh, a careful review of the Rosh’s own language shows otherwise (Beginning of section 2):

”It appears that the explanation of these two top middle leaves...etc...However, a question arises: The Talmud states that if the ‘twin leaf’ is removed the Lulav is invalid. If this applies even if the top was cut off, then the law for removal is obvious. Why state it? Therefore one must say that the phrase ‘cut off’ is not referring to the twin, but rather to the tops of the majority of the leaves. While this does cause the language of the text to be a somewhat difficult, one could say that it still is important to learn the law of complete removal of leaves since that does not appear as unsightly as clipped leaves.”

Until here is the quote. If this is his view then it is equivalent to Tosfos, and in truth there are none who dispute this, as the Mishna, Rif, and Rambam simply state ‘its top has been cut’. In light of this the Tur’s language is indeed problematic, for he is not accurately reporting the final ruling of the Rosh. This why the Rema omits the term ‘Others say’, as he is of the opinion that this is the unanimously held position.

The Rema further believes the Mordechai’s understanding to be that this law is applicable to the Lulav as well as the Hadas, which would also be in agreement with the Rambam’s [chapter 8, law 1] permit of using a dried out Lulav, as is explained in chapter 649. The Magid Mishna thereon asserts “that the Gaonim relied [on the text in Gemara Sukkah (31)] to permit one dried, cut off on top, as well as other invalidations when unable to procure otherwise, even on the first day.” Until here is the quote, though see the source for a fuller explanation [IS THIS CORRECT?].

If all this be so, the Rema’s position is vindicated, that if one has no other Lulav he may say the blessing on the one he has, in its current condition (Taz, comment 7).

Section 18[edit]

“If the Lulav has split it remains valid”. This ruling refers to the top of the leaves splitting (Rashi in Gemara Sukkah, 31.2).

“If the two parts of the leaf that have split diverge to the point that they appear to be separate leaves the Lulav is rendered invalid”. This ruling refers to when a majority of the leaves have split and the split parts have diverged one form the other. In this case, even the the twin middle leaf is still intact and complete, and not has separated in a way that would cause an invalidation (according to those who recognize such an invalidation), the Lulav is still unfit for use. Upon reading this one need not ask ‘Why is this ruling necessary, the Rif and Rambam have already invalidated a Lulav which had most of their leaves separated. Of course the same would apply if most had split!’ - This is not a question, for ‘separating’ requires most of the length of the leaves to have separated, while ‘splitting’ only requires splitting at the top of the leaves, and that is why they must have distanced themselves to the point that they appear as separate leaves in order to create an invalidation.

Section 19[edit]

If the spine has produced something like thorns; or appears shriveled [?] or clenched [?] as though diseased, and appears wrinkled or withered [CORRECT?]; or it is bent over forward over the spine, the top becoming ‘hunchbacked’ [CORRECT?] - these are all invalid. If the Lulav is bent towards the sides it is invalid, even if it is only bent towards one side. If however, it is bent over towards the the back of its spine that is acceptable, as that is its natural growth.

Section 20[edit]

If it has become bent backwards but not due to its natural growth, rather due to its softness, it is invalid. This means that the spine itself has become bent over. If only the leaves are bent but the spine remains straight, as is common with many Lulavs, the Lulav remains valid for use, regardless of the direction of the leaves' bent. The Rosh was very fond of Lulavs whose leaves bent over a bit on the very top, for it ensured that the leaves would not separate, and the twins would remain attached together.

Note that there differing opinions on the law above: There is an opinion that states that the Lulav is only valid if the top leaves are bent over a bit. If, however, all the leaves were bent over a bit, or even a majority of them, the Lulav is invalid (Levush and Magen Avraham). Other dispute that contention (Taz in comment 10). Regardless, the bent leaves must only be bent at their tops. If the whole length of the leaves are bent over in a downward direction the Lulav is invalid. At the other end of the spectrum, there are those who oppose even slightly bent leaves.

Section 21[edit]

In certain locales people plant Lulavs and Hadasim in flower pots filled with earth that remain in their houses, in order to use these Lulavs and Hadasim on the Sukkos Festival. Some authorities are concerned over the correctness of this behavior (Chai Adam, rule 151).

The Talmud Yirushalmi in the first chapter of 'Orlah' (end of law 2), states the following ruling: "Rabbi Yochanan said in Rabbi Yannai's name: 'Trees that are planted in the house are obligated in 'Orlah' and exempt from tithes. They are exempt from tithes since the verse states 'You should surely tithe...the production of fields' - and a house is not a field. Regarding 'Orlah', however, even though the verse states '...and you will plant all manner of fruit trees...', nevertheless when planted in the house it is still termed 'a tree'. Now when the four species are considered, they are not required to be more than the plants they are, as it is written '...a beautiful fruit from a tree and a branch of a myrtle bush...'. We have no further requirement to ensure that they came from an actual field (see there).

We have similarly learnt in Gemara Menachos (84.2) regarding first fruits ('Bekurim'): "We have only learnt about first fruits from a field, how do we know this requirement pertains to those that grew on the roof, in abandoned ruins, in a flower pot or on a boat? That is why we have the verse 'The first fruit of all that grows in their land'..." (see there). (Also see the Mishna L'Melech in the second chapter of the laws of First Fruits.)

If this all be so then this is an example of the adage 'the customs of Israel are rooted in Torah law', and this behavior is completely acceptable.