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Sukkot - Rabbanite Misconceptions

The Rabbanites say that the taking in “And you shall take on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees” (Wayyiqra’ 23:40) indicates actual taking with the hand of the four species named. Of these, they say, “fruit of beautiful trees” indicates the Etrog (citron) for beautiful (Hadar) they read (HaDar) as in “which remains (had-dar) upon the trees from year to year.” This, however, requires changing the Niqqud (vowel and emphasis pointing) of the text. Additionally, the words BaYom HaRishon in this case actually means “by the first day”, i.e., shortly prior to it, just as the words Wayekhal Elohim BaYom HaShevi‘i Mela’khto Asher ‘Asah mean “And God had completed by the seventh day His work which he had done”. Just as God completed His creation of the world on the sixth day prior to the beginning of the seventh day, we are to take the branches mentioned prior to the beginning of the first day of the holiday.

The phrase “branches of palm trees" (Wayyiqra’ 23:40) requires, they say, the addition of the conjunction “and” (Waw) and these branches signify the “Lulav” (closed palm frond). "Boughs of thick/densely-leaved (‘Avot) trees” (Wayyiqra’ 23:40) they say, indicates the myrtle tree, since its branches come in thick clusters of three.

This, however, is wrong as it is written in the Book of Nehemyah [Nehemiah], “leaves of the myrtle ... and branches of thick trees” (Nehemyah [Nehemiah] 8:15), showing that these are two different species. Moreover, it is impossible that the Hebrew word for thick (‘Avot) should signify “coming in threes” since it is spelled with the full vowel “a” [Qames],where as ‘Avot signifying a triple braided cord is spelled with a reduced vowel “a” [Hataf-Patah]

The Rabbanites also say another thing in this connection, without any basis in the Miqra’ [Scripture]. The Miqra’ says, “And you shall take on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees” (Wayyiqra’ 23:40), thus limiting the taking to by the first day only; however, they extend the ordinance of the Lulav and Etrog over all the seven days of the festival. YHWH alone knows the truth of this matter.