Important Halacha Regarding Arba Minim


arbah-minimBy Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Recently, 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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  1. Of course, a yungerman supported by his wife or his ballabatish father-in-law should be careful to insure that his wife or father-in-law had the proper daat makneh (intention to part with the property) when conveying the lulav or etrog (or purchase money) to him so that he does not have a lachem problem.

  2. #3
    it’s a machlokes between the rama. the mechaber, and by extension most sephardim, such as rav Ovadiah, hold that a women fulfilling a mitzvas aseh shehazman grama does not make a bracha while the Rama, and by extension most ashkenazim say that she does

  3. to #2, a ladies assets are the property of her husband regardless, save a few cases.
    Furthermore a husband does not have to give his wife his lulav with intention that she is acquiring it, goes of a concept of “ishto harie hee k’gufo”.

  4. Please see Tehila L’Dovid Siman 14 sk 7 and Derech Hachaim on Talis Sheulah sk 4.

    To #3 – Because Sefardim follow the Mechaber and except for Pesach, women do not make a bracha on these mitzvos.

  5. The reason Rav Ovadia holds that ladies dont make a bracha on lulav is because of a machlokes throughout shulchan aruch between the mechaber and ramam if ladies make a beracha on a mitzvas asai shehazman grama. Ashkenazim hold that the ladies should make a beracha, like on megillah, shofar, sukkah…. Rav ovadia is just paskening the sefhardic psak of ladies not making a beracha on o zman gerama. Ashkenazim hold they should make a beracha.

  6. While it is preferable to state clearly that one is intending to transfer ownership (temporarily) of the four species when allowing another to use one’s arba minim on the first day, if one failed to do so, there is an opinion (based on an understanding of the words of the Magen Avrohom) that it is self understood that it was meant as a temporary present. Therefore, if one has failed to state this condition explicitly, then one should make the effort to do it correctly, providing that it is still before sunset, but without reciting the blessing. If it is too late to do this, then there is a safek (doubt) whether one has fulfilled the mitzva. When one takes the lulav on the second day, one does not recite the shehechiyanu blessing, because it was possible that one actually did fulfill the mitzva on the first day.

  7. #3 As a rule a sfardi woman do not make brachot on mitzvas aseh shehazeman grama, not do they make the bracha on shabbos lighting after the lighting which requires several twists of logic and halacha unique to ashkenaz