The Holiday of Sukkot starts tonight. It is the only holiday where we are commanded to be happy. That in and of itself is very interesting. We have just come through the holiday of Yom Kippur where we are being judged and that is not an easy thing. So, in one sense it almost seems like this is the reward.
Still, if you look at the customs affiliated with Hoshanah Rabbah, the sixth day of this seven day holiday, there are still clearly signs involved that deal with the season of repentance. It has led some to believe that at one point that was actually more the day when our fate was finally sealed, not Yom Kippur.
Either way, today the holiday is celebrated with a lot of fun and enjoyment. One of the symbols associated with the holiday is the Etrog (a citrus fruit) and a lulav (branches from three different types of trees). There are lots of explanations as to what each one means and why they are combined and I am not going to get into that here.
Traditionally each person is supposed to have his or her own etrog and lulav. The way we get around that is you can ‘borrow’ from someone else but you explicitly tell them that you are not loaning it to them but actually giving it to them (so they own it) but only with the understanding that they will return it to you after they are finished making the blessing and shaking it.
I have at times purchased an etrog and lulav set but other times I have ‘borrowed’ it from someone else. This year, after buying a house and feeling quite poor, I figured I would not purchase my own. It was my son, however, who indicated that he would really like to have one this year. When you have a nine year old that enjoys the meaning and symbolism of the holiday, that enjoys participating in the services and going to shul (synagogue) on the important, but lesser known holidays, what can you do? I purchased my own etrog and lulav set and I am thrilled to have them and to be sharing them with my son.
I wish you a Hag Samach, Happy Holidays.