Important Halacha Regarding Arba Minim


arbah-minimBy Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Last year, 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. The real question is if the requirement of “lochem” applieas at all to women performing the mitzvah.

    Lochem applien when there is a mitvah D’oiraysa. I believe it is also a requirement on other days if you were at the beis hamikdash. Arba minim are clearly mitzva aseh shehazman gromo, and women are patur.

    It is quite possible tha “lochem’ is not a requirement for women.

    This is not even dealing with the shita of the RAMBAM, that women should not make a brocho at all.

  2. There is strong halacha basis that a wife can “borrow” her husbands lulav. Like we find by other mitzvos they share owenreship and therefore it is lachem.

    regarding umarried women and daugters over 12 this is of course a valid concern.

    Re: girls under 12 and certainly under 11 there is no good solution unless one wants to buy them their own set.

    However there certainly is strong basis to rely on the opinions that do not reuire “chinuch sets” even for boys. To the extent that girls would like to do the mitzvah and do chinuch of this mitzvah that they are not obligated in, one has solid ground on which to sound.

  3. This article is unnecessary. The author forgot the Mishnah berura (649:15) who writes that even without explicit intention of it being a gift with the condition to return, it is assumed to be that since that is the only way to fulfill the mitzvah. The only education necessary is that the giver be aware of the Halacha that one cannot fulfill their obligation with a borrowed lulav (but doesn’t have to be thinking about that at the time). The previous comment that ??? wouldn’t apply to women has no source and is illogical.

  4. “I don’t understand – when a husband buys something it is for him and his wife”

    You sound like from a time long lost and forgotten. A time when I grew up too and the world was a much better and loving place. It’s understandable that you don’t understand. Neither do I and all other honorable people.

  5. Well at least I have the chance to do teshuva on my bracha levatala but it would have been nice to see this article a few days before chag so I wouldn’t have made the mistake in the first place.

  6. in oruch hashelchon it says that chiildern who are “soimech al shulchan oviv” who are supported by their father or father in’law are yotzei with their father or father in’law’s lulov because it is considered “lochem”. you have to know if this applies to a wife also.

  7. The Tehila L’Dovid, Ch 14 end of s.k. 7 – states
    unequivocally that women may bentch on a borrowed esrog. The Derech Ha’chaim however argues on this.


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