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Your Lulav and Esrog After Sukkot

Your Lulav and Esrog After Sukkot

Mitzvah Recycling! An item used for one mitzvah can be used for another.


After the Sukkot holiday has ended, we are left with a variety of items that we used for mitzvot, but which no longer seem to serve any function. For example, the four species (Lulav, Etrog, etc.), the willow branches from Hoshana Rabba, and the s'chach which formed the roof of our Sukkah.

But we mustn't simply throw these mitzvah items out. Why not? The Torah says that after Abraham purchased a field for Sarah's burial, "the field rose up" (Genesis 23:17). In what way can a field ascend? Rashi explains that when a material object is used for a mitzvah, that object becomes elevated spiritually. The same applies to our elevated mitzvah objects which served to raise us up during the festival.

Items such as a used Lulav, torn Tzitzit, or broken Shofar -- though they no longer retain any intrinsic holiness -- must not be treated disrespectfully by discarding them in a filthy place such as a garbage bin (Mishna Brura 21:6). However it is permissible, according to the letter of the law, to leave the object in a clean place with full knowledge that someone else will come and dispose of it (Mishna Brura 21:7). People who demonstrate extra care take it upon themselves to bury such articles or put them into a geniza (Rama O.C. 21:1).


There is a beautiful kabbalistic idea of "mitzvah recycling" -- which suggests that any item used for one mitzvah should be used for another (Shulchan Aruch HaRav §12). For example, many save their Lulav sets and extra willows until the eve of Passover, to use them for kindling a fire for the mitzvah of burning chometz (Maharshal responsum §77). Similarly, old Tzitzit once detached from the Tallit can be used as effective bookmarks (Maharil).

Another beautiful practice is to cover the surface of the Etrog with aromatic cloves and use this throughout the year as a spice holder for the Havdallah service. others have the custom to collect dozens of Etrogs and to candy their tart fruit. You can then serve it on Tu Bishvat -- the new year for fruit trees.

Whatever you decide to do with your used mitzvah-objects, remember the underlying principle: Mitzvot are for individuals to express their personal relationship to God, and to be creative within the boundaries of halacha (Jewish law).


August 25, 2002

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Visitor Comments: 17

(16) Esty Berman, November 23, 2014 11:36 PM


I use the leaves on the hadassim of the Lulav foe Besammim for Havdallah. I dry them mixed with cloves and it smells so nice!

(15) Tiferet, October 28, 2014 1:43 AM

Decorative fruit basket and for smelling.

We put the Etrog, along with other fruits, pomegranites, etc into a bowl and have this on the Shabbis table. Smells great (there's a blessing for this which can be said everyday).

(14) Anonymous, October 6, 2014 5:26 PM


This is awesome! Thank you so much for posting this!

(13) Anonymous, October 15, 2013 9:22 AM

Obtaining lulavim and etrog AFTER Sukkot

How can one get a lulavim set and etrog after Sukkot? I am wanting one for a teaching Nov.1. Would anyone have their old ones for sale?

(12) JoeTal, October 4, 2010 12:10 PM

Etrog Slices Cooked in Syrup

* 4 large Etrogs (citrus) * 5 cups sugar * 2 cups water * Juice of 1/2 lemon Rinse the Etrogs and soak them in cold water for at least 3 hours. Cut them into thick slices (about 1/3 inch or 1 cm) and remove the seeds. Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a large pan and bring to a boil. Press the Etrog slices firmly into the syrup. Cover with a lid and let it simmer lightly for 1 – 1 ½ hours, or until they are very soft. Remove the slices and arrange on a serving dish. Continue simmering the syrup, uncovered, until it has thickened. Pour the remaining syrup over the slices. This is an enchanting - but easy - dessert that can be served with a tad of cinnamon, chopped nuts and some cream to top it off!

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