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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.

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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).

MITZVAH RECYCLING

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).

 

Published: August 25, 2002


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Visitor Comments: 13

(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!

(11) JoeTal, October 4, 2010 12:09 PM

Etrog schnapps

* Up to 3 Etrogs (citrus) * 3 cups Vodka * 1.5 cups superfine sugar Rinse the Etrogs well, and peel the thick yellow skin. Place the peels in a 4-cup container, and add 2 cups of vodka. Store for a minimum of 48 hours in a cool, dark place. Remove the peels from the vodka. Add all the sugar and stir until the liquid is clear. Add the remaining cup of vodka and stir until the mixture is clear. Seal the top and keep it in a cool place for about 6 weeks. The schnapps will have a distinctive citrus aroma, and a delicate and sweet flavor. A wonderful addition to any occasion.

(10) JoeTal, October 4, 2010 12:07 PM

Etrog marmalade

1 etrog (citron) 1 orange equal weight sugar water Wash the citron and orange and cut them in half lengthwise and then very thinly slice them. Remove all the seeds. Soak the fruit in water overnight. Change the water to cover the fruit and bring to the boil. Change the water again and bring to the boil once more. Pour off the water. Weigh the fruit and add an equal weight of white sugar and a little water to barely cover the fruit. Bring to a boil and then cook over medium heat for about 45 minutes until the jam begins to jell.

(9) Sharon, October 3, 2010 3:42 AM

response to etrog spices

I cut open the etrog, separate the flesh from the skin and air dry it on a rack cut into smallish pieces. I also use the leaves of the aravot (myrtle) as they are also aromatic. Once dry, they stay beautifully fragrant in my Havdalah spice box.

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