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The Superheroes of Modern Orthodox Judaism

October 10, 2012

What do Batman, Robin, Superman, Zorro, the Green Lantern, Spiderman, Donny Steinberg, Yitz Lieberman, Kevin Alter, Seth Schlussel and Kevin Hakimi have in common? The answer: no one knows who they really are! But they are all superheroes!

During this festival of Sukkot, aside from eating in the Succah, there is another ritual we perform every day with the exception of the Sabbath to commemorate the ancient agricultural meaning of this festival. We recite a blessing and hold in our hands the four species: the lulav, the palm branch; the esrog, the citron; the Hadasim, the myrtles; and the aravos, the willows. We hold them together and recite a blessing which concludes with singling out the lulav – the palm branch. There was a rather strange and fascinating aspect of how the lulav was used by the Jews in ancient days. In the course of the year we find a wide variety of mitzvot which we are encouraged to fulfill. In virtually every instance, once the mitzvah is performed, we lay aside the object with which we performed the mitzvah and it is relegated to relative obscurity. When we finish with Chanukah, we put away the Menorah. At the end of the Seder, we clean off the table. After Shofar blowing, we put the Shofar away for another year. Yet the Talmud asserts that “such was the custom of the people of Jerusalem on Sukkot … they would carry the lulav aloft in their hands when they left their homes, when they walked to the prayer hall and when they returned. They would carry it when they visited the sick and when they went to visit those in mourning …” In other words, the lulav represented much more than a palm branch upon which a special blessing was recited on the festival. It became an object to be treasured and displayed and to be carried with oneself throughout the week of Sukkot. READ MORE

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