Important Halacha Regarding Arba Minim


arbah-minimBy Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Three years ago, an unofficial poll taken in Far Rockaway, New York, revealed a startling and alarming fact. Over 90% of women polled were unaware of the halacha of “lochem.” The Torah tells us of a requirement in the laws of lulav and esrog that applies on the first day of Sukkos. The Arba Minim, the four kinds taken on Sukkos, must belong to the person who is performing the mitzvah. It may not be borrowed – it must be owned. One may, of course, rely on the concept of “Matana al menas lehachzir” – a conditional gift where the recipient will eventually give back the item – but this is not akin to borrowing. It is still considered ownership.

These halachos are discussed in Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 649:2. Remember, it applies only on the first and second day of Yom Tov – not on the other days of Sukkos.

Question: What happens if someone takes a Lulav on the first (or second day of Yom Tov) and does not fulfill the Mitzvah of lochem?

Answer: They have not fulfilled the Mitzvah and the blessing is considered a Bracha Levatala.

Question: What if the husband or father has in mind to give it as a gift but the person acquiring it does not have in mind to acquire it?

Answer: It still does not work. One needs to have in mind that they are acquiring something in order to acquire it.

Question: But aren’t women exempt from this Mitzvah?

Answer: Yes, but if they do choose to do it, they should do it right.

This is an important halacha. And it should be taught to all women who perform the Mitzvah of Lulav and Esrog.

The issue in regard to minors is discussed in the Gemara (Sukkah 46b) regarding how exactly a minor should perform this Mitzvah. The Gemorah states that says that one should not give his lulav as a gift to a minor on the first Yom Tov, because a minor is unaware of the notion of giving something back. In other words, he can receive an object but cannot give it back to others.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 658:6) does bring a dissenting opinion (Ran) that a child at the stage of p’utot (who understands buying and selling- usually at age six) is able to halachically give the lulav back (see Shulchan Aruch, CM 235:1), however most Poskim rule stringently for children.

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This post is reposted from the archives by request from several readers.

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  1. there is a big machlokes if the bracha is levatala or not. take a look at the chacham tzvi in siman tes. and kehilos yaakov. not black and white rather grey. once again

  2. Rabbi Hoffman,
    I notice that this is a “re-post” from previous years.
    I think it should be made clear that in chutz la’aretz the din of “Lochem” applies to BOTH days, i.e. the First day AND the Second day.

  3. The rosh in the sugya of tabaas shiulah says that people automatikely have in mind the kinyanim they need even if they are unaware that they need those kavonos (how many of our bubbies knew that matzah has to be lachem???)