Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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11 Tishrei 5766 - October 15, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Yehuda's Very Own Arba Minim
by S. N. Busch

"Abba!" Yehuda called out to where the men were busy building the Succah, "Am I going to get my Arba Minim soon?"

"Tomorrow, Be'ezras Hashem," Abba answered.

Yehuda smiled. He opened his special notebook where he had many pictures of the Lulav, Esrog, Hadassim and Arovos. He imagined himself carefully choosing his very own, making sure every detail was right, just as his rebbe had taught. He slowly drifted off to sleep dreaming of his very own Arba Minim.

Yehuda awoke very early the next morning. He washed negel vasser, said Modeh Ani and Brochos. It was still a while before minyan, so he took out his notebook and read it over and over until Abba called him to go to shul. He was so excited about getting his own Arba Minim that he had a hard time keeping his mind on his davening!

At breakfast, Yehuda asked Abba when they would be going to choose their Arba Minim. Abba said he was planning to leave right after breakfast to buy the Arba Minim for the two of them.

"What about me?" asked Yehuda.

"What do you mean, `What about me?' You know I'm planning on getting a set for you, too."

"I wanted to choose my own!"

Just then, his little sister Chavi tripped and caught herself at the edge of the table, managing to spill Yehuda's breakfast all over his lap. Yehuda's face turned red as he yelled at his sister, "Why can't you be careful! Look what a mess you made!"

Abba and Imma gave each other one of those looks. Then they both turned to look at Yehuda. He knew what that meant. His temper again. It was so hard to control. He took a deep breath, apologized to Chavi for yelling and brushed off his clothes.

Abba smiled. He remembered how proud Yehuda was of his notebook with all the detailed descriptions and pictures. "I hadn't realized that you thought you would be choosing your own."

"Yeah — I wanted to compare the pictures in my notebook with the Arba Minim at the booths, and pick out nice kosher ones for myself."

Abba told Yehuda, "I'll tell you what. You can come with me to choose your Arba Minim, but you may not bring your notebook, because it could get lost in the crowd."

Yehuda jumped up from the kitchen table, stuffed his notebook back in his schoolbag, ran back out to the living room, and yelled, "Let's go!"

Together, they boarded the bus to Geula. More and more people filled the bus as they got closer. The street filled with traffic and the bus slowed down.

Abba told Yehuda about the booths with the Arba Minim and the crowds of people in the streets. He instructed Yehuda, "There are lots of exciting things to see, but make sure to stay by me the whole time."

Yehuda's eyes glowed in anticipation.

Yehuda jumped up and down in his seat. Abba suggested, "Let's get off the bus and walk the rest of the way."

The streets were filled with people all around booths selling succah decorations, long plastic cases and . . . the Arba Minim! Yehuda accompanied Abba from booth to booth.

Yehuda picked up a nice round yellow Esrog. "Abba, is this a good one?" he asked eagerly.

He remembered most of what was in the notebook, but wanted to make sure. He found a long green Lulav, and they examined it together.

"This is great!" shouted Yehuda.

Abba gave him a big grin. "On to the Hadassim and Arovos!"

Abba inspected the branches and discussed their halachos with Yehuda. All the many shapes, colors and the many intricate details Yehuda had learned about in cheder were coming alive in the Arba Minim Shuk with Abba. He felt as if he could continue like this forever!

Finally, they each got all of their Arba Minim, and Yehuda even got his own case for them. It was time to go.

On the bus on their way home, he looked at each of his Arba Minim again. "Careful with those!" reminded Abba.

Yehuda couldn't wait to show everyone his very own Arba Minim that he had picked out himself! (With Abba's help, of course.)

When they arrived home, Abba gently wrapped his Arba Minim and put them away, and collapsed on a chair. "I'm wiped out, Yehuda! That was exhausting! Come, sit with me," invited Abba. But Yehuda was still full of energy and excitement.

"Soon, Abba," he said. He ran around the apartment looking for everyone to tell them to come and look at his Arba Minim.

As the family came in to the living room, he showed the minim off one by one, explaining why they had chosen them according to the notes and pictures in his notebook.

"Slow down!" cried Imma, "I can hardly follow what you're saying!"

Little Chavi couldn't see the Esrog very well and climbed on to a chair to look at it more closely. She picked it up. It was so wonderful to hold!

. . . Yehuda turned around and saw the precious Esrog as it slipped out of her hand and landed on the floor.

He wanted to scream at Chavi! Didn't she know how precious and important the Esrog was to him? Didn't she understand how carefully it had to be handled? He had chosen it so carefully! How could she do such a thing?

Chavi saw his face turning redder and redder. She ran to hide behind Imma's skirt.

Yehuda was so stunned and hurt he didn't know what to say.

Abba called from his chair, "Yehuda," he said, "come here."

Yehuda looked at Abba, back at the Esrog, and slowly walked over to Abba. "Remember the mishna in Pirkei Ovos that we learned together Pesach time?" Abba asked. "Think carefully before you judge her. Maybe she really didn't understand. She is so little. And it did look like it was an accident."

She looked so scared! Yehuda held his tongue and thought about what Abba said. He was right. It probably was an accident. Yelling at Chavi wouldn't help fix his Esrog. It would just make her feel bad.

Yehuda took a deep breath. "I'm not angry at you, Chavi," he told her. She slowly came out from her hiding place behind Imma's skirt.

But the Esrog he had so carefully chosen! Even if he wasn't angry at Chavi any more, he was still worried about his Esrog. He went over to where it fell and brought it to Abba to find out if it was still kosher.

Abba inspected it closely. "Yehuda," he said, "tell me what we learn from the Arba Minim."

Yehuda explained, "The Lulav is like the spine, the Esrog the heart, the Hadas leaf the eye, and the Arovoh leaf the mouth."

"What else?" asked Abba. Yehuda looked in his notebook, and told Abba how each of the Arba Minim are like the different types of Jews. We hold them together on Succos to show our togetherness.

"Yehuda," Abba continued, "you looked with your eye — like the Hadas leaf — and saw that the Esrog had fallen on the floor. You judged with your heart — like the Esrog — that Chavi dropped it by accident. Even though you were upset, you held your tongue and kept your mouth — like the Arovoh leaf — closed and didn't yell at her. And then you straightened your spine — like the Lulav — to ask me about the kashrus of the Esrog.

"Look at Chavi. She isn't running away any more because she is scared that you are angry with her. Because you used each of the parts of your body in the correct way, you reacted in a way that brings us together, instead of pushing us apart."

Yehuda thought about what Abba said. He was very proud of how he had considered Chavi's feelings, and how he had controlled himself. He straightened up even taller. "And you know what, Abba," he said, "even if the Esrog isn't kosher anymore, there is still time to get another one!"

He wrapped up his Arba Minim and put them away with his Abba's.

On the first day of Yom Tov, Yehuda recited the brochoh . . . Al Netilas Lulav . . . and Shehecheyonu and as he picked up his very own Arba Minim for the first time for the mitzvah, he smiled to himself.


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