Mama Deb (mamadeb) wrote,
Mama Deb

Holidays Part Whatever

Today: plants.

One of the commandments of the holiday is to wave the four species - the lovely and fragrant etrog (citron), the fragrant hadassim (myrtle branches), the lovely lulav (palm frond) and the neither lovely nor fragrant arabot (willow of the brook.). The last three are kept in a woven holder so it's possibly to hold all four in one hand, provided the etrog is small enough or one's hand is large enough.

As with eating in the sukkah, this mitzvah is only incumbant upon men, but women have taken it on, although I do take shameless advantage of being female in terms of eating lunch at work. Most women use sets belonging to their husbands or to male friends or their synagogue. I get my own each year, and have done so for about the last ten years. In my old shul, I would be the only woman with my own. In my current one, several women bring their own *and* there are sets donated for the express use of the woman. Smile.

During the holiday services (except on Shabbat), we hold our sets during two parts - Hallel, which are psalms 112-118 - and special prayers just for Sukkot, which involve singing and the men walking around the bima or "desk".

One bit - the prayers song at this point are called "hoshannahs", for the first line. "Hoshannah" means "Save us, please." Which makes me smile when I hear "Hosanna in the highest" because it makes absolutely no sense.

We bought the plants today. We went to a Jewish bookstore and picked them out. First, we got the etrogim, which are the expensive items. We wanted ones as yellow as possible with intact "pitoms" or flower ends. Some prefer the naturally pitomless - it's a matter of custom. We found two lovely ones. They came packed in foam rubber, which is a problem because foam rubber doesn't protect the pitom well, and if it breaks, ithe fruit is no longer usable. So, at our request, they were rewrapped in flax, which does a much better job. Then it was only a matter of picking out the other three items and having the lulav tied up and placed in the woven holder.

The myrtle and willow are now sitting in a vase because we can't use them until Sunday, as the first day is a Sabbath.

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