The Symbolism of the Four Species

Four plants play a particularly important role during the blessings and celebrations of Sukkot. Together, they are called the Four Species, and according to Jewish tradition, each represents a type of person or a part of the body:

The Etrog

  • The “Etrog” is a citron fruit native to Israel. It resembles a lemon
  • As the Etrog has both a taste and a smell, it’s said to represent a person who has learning and is kind to others
  • Because of its shape, the Etrog symbolizes the heart
  • When Sukkot is over, the Etrog can be put in your drawers to freshen your clothes (it will get small and black, but it won’t rot or lose its fruity fragrance)

The Lulav

  • The “Lulav” is a dried branch of a palm tree
  • As the Lulav has a taste, but no smell, it’s said to represent a person who has learning but ignores good deeds
  • The Lulav, because of its shape, symbolizes the spine
  • The Lulav is bound together with the two plants below to signify harmony. Together, the three are also called the Lulav (because it’s the largest of species)

The Hadasim

  • The “Hadasim” are three myrtle branches
  • Myrtle branches have no taste, but they smell magnificent, so they’re said to represent a person who has no learning but does good deeds
  • Because of the shape of their leaves, the Hadasim symbolize the eyes

The Aravot

  • The “Aravot” are two branches of a willow tree
  • According to the sages, as the Aravot have neither a scent nor a taste, they represent a person who has no learning, nor does good deeds
  • Because of the red veins in their leaves, the Aravot represent the arteries

Succoth Shopping List

  • Candles
  • Challah (or ingredients to make own, such as yeast, sugar, eggs, vegetable oil, salt, flour)
  • Grape juice and/or Wine
  • Gefilte fish
  • Horseradish
  • Salad and salad dressing
  • Ingredients for main course, such as Stuffed Cabbage
  • Ingredients for side dishes such as potatoes
  • Ingredients for dessert
  • Condiments
  • Cooking spray
  • Tea and coffee
  • Honey
  • Flowers or other supplies for centerpiece