Arba Minim and children - More than a Minor Issue.
Rabbi Yosef Levinson
Hashem gave us the Yom Tov of Succos, Z'man Simchaseinu, in order that
we may channel our joy into serving Him. It is our most joyous
holiday. Following on the heels of the Yomim Noraim, we feel tahor, we
feel cleansed. Succos is also Chag Ha'assif - the Harvest Festival -
since in the Northern Hemisphere, Succos comes after the summer, when
the farmers finish harvesting and, literally, enjoy the fruits of
their labour. This is also why the Torah gave us the mitzva of arba
minim - the Four Species. The Sefer HaChinuch (1) writes that the
Torah commands us to take the lulav, esrog, hadassim (myrtle) and
aravos (willow) at this time since these species bring us simcha and
therefore aid us in directing our joy towards Avodas Hashem.
Naturally, we want to share this joyous mitzva with our children. And, as with other mitzvos, there is also a mitzva of chinuch: we have to train our children in mitzva observance (2). As the arba minim can be quite costly, many of us would like to share a set with our children. However, as we will see, sharing a lulav and esrog with them has potential halachic problems. It may be more than a "minor" issue.
There are many halachic requirements that must be met in order for a set of arba minim to be kosher. One such halacha, unique to the mitzva of arba minim, is the requirement of ownership. Even though one may borrow his friend's tefillin, or blow his friend's shofar, everyone must have his own set of arba minim. Chazal derive from the Torah's phrase 'U'lakachtem lachem -You shall take for yourselves' (3) - that one may not borrow a set of arba minim in order to fulfil his obligation; rather, he must acquire his own set (4). However, this is only necessary for the first day of Succos. One may borrow his friend's arba minim for the remaining days. This is because taking the arba minim on the first day is min HaTorah - a Biblical mitzva - whereas taking a lulav and esrog on the rest of Succos is only Mi'd'Rabbanan, a Rabbinical decree (5). Outside of Eretz Yisrael, where we observe two days of Yom Tov, the second day retains all of the halachos of the first day. Since misafeik, we have a doubt that perhaps the second day is really Yom Tov, one must also use his own lulav and esrog on the second day (6).
This brings us to the difficulty in sharing the Four Species with a child. If one can only fulfil the mitzva with his own set of arba minim, then a child can only fulfil his mitzva of chinuch if he acquires the set. In Eretz Yisrael, there is an easy solution to this dilemma. One can give his set of arba minim to his child as a gift. In fact, anyone who does not have arba minim of his own should receive a set as a gift in order to fulfil the mitzva (7).
By giving the lulav and esrog to the child, ownership is transferred to him, and he may then recite the bracha and take the arba minim. However, this cannot be done in Chutz L'aretz. As mentioned above, the requirement of lachem - ownership - applies on the second day as well. If a father gave his child the arba minim on the first day of Yom Tov to fulfil his obligation, the father would not have a set of his own for the second day!
Then why not tell the child to return the set to his father as a gift? The reason is that it is not halachically possible. When an adult grants a gift to a child, the child acquires ownership according to Torah law. However, a transfer of property by a minor is not valid, again according to Torah law (8). For this reason, the Gemara (9) states that one should not transfer ownership of the Four Species to a minor child on the first day of Succos before he himself (10) has performed the mitzva (11). While in Eretz Yisrael one could guard against giving his arba minim to a minor before he fulfilled his mitzva (12), it is not possible for us who live in the Diaspora. On the other hand, if we merely let our children recite a bracha and shake the lulav without transferring ownership to them, we will fulfil our own mitzva on the second day, but we will not fulfil our mitzva of chinuch.
An even bigger concern if the child does not own the set on which he makes the bracha, is that the bracha recited is a bracha l'vatala - a blessing recited in vain. If we are not fulfilling the D'Rabbanan mitzva of chinuch when we say the bracha with our children, then we are saying Hashem's name in vain. This, according to some authorities, is prohibited Mi' Da'araissa (13).
The custom is to give the lulav and esrog to all children, including girls and very small children. It is customary, according to Ashkenazic tradition, for women to take the arba minim and to recite the bracha beforehand. Since the arba minim is only performed during Succos, it is a mitzvas asei shehaz'man grama - a time-bound mitzva - which women are not obligated to perform. The purpose of chinuch is to train children to be familiar with the mitzvos they are required to perform when they become bar or bas mitzva. Logically then, the mitzva of chinuch would not apply to mitzvos which one would not be required to observe when one came of age. Therefore, there would be no mitzva of chinuch to give a girl the arba minim. Likewise, there is no mitzva to train very small children. If we nonetheless recite the bracha with them, it will be in vain (14).
What are we to do? Must we purchase a set of arba minim for our children? Indeed, HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt'l (15) rules that one should purchase a set of arba minim for his child if he is able to. What if we have many children? Obviously, the cost would be astronomical to purchase a set for each child (16).
Let us attempt to find some possible solutions to this predicament (17). As was explained earlier, the mitzva min HaTorah of taking the Four Species, is only on the first day of Succos. As it is written in the Torah, U'lekachtem lachem bayom harishon pri etz haddar - and you shall take on the first day of Succos an esrog (18). However, Chazal also instituted that we take the arba minim on each of the seven days of Succos. This is because there is a special mitzva to take the arba minim in the Beis HaMikdash for seven days. As the Torah states U'semachtem lifnei Hashem Elocheichem Shivas Yomim - You shall rejoice before Hashem for seven days (19). From this verse, the Toras Kohanim derives that the mitzva of rejoicing with the arba minim is lifnei Hashem - before Hashem - namely, in the Beis HaMikdash. The rest of Eretz Yisrael is not considered to be lifnei Hashem. Thus, this mitzva does not apply outside of the Temple. After the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash, may it be speedily rebuilt, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai instituted that the practice of taking the lulav for seven days in the Beis HaMikdash should be kept everywhere - zecher LaMikdash, in remembrance of the Temple (20). The mitzva of taking the Four Species for all seven days may be fulfilled with a friend's set. Unlike the mitzva of the first day, the remaining days have no requirement of ownership (21).
The Chacham Tzvi (22) writes that Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai's enactment of taking the Four Species for seven days includes the first day as well. So on the first day of Succos, there are two mitzvos: first, the mitzva Mi' Da'araissa of taking the Four Species on the first day of Succos; and second, the mitzva Mi'd'Rabbanan, in remembrance of the Mikdash. The Kehillas Yaakov (23) explains that in the time of the Temple, there were two mitzvos min HaTorah on the first day of Succos: the mitzva of taking the lulav and esrog on the first day, and the mitzva of the Mikdash. If one shook the lulav and esrog in the morning, and entered the Beis HaMikdash in the afternoon, he would be obligated to take the Four Species again in the Temple that afternoon. For this reason, we have a mitzva of taking arba minim zecher LaMikdash on all seven days.
The Kehillas Yaakov writes that herein lies the solution to our dilemma!
Since there is also a mitzva to take the arba minim zecher LaMikdash on the first day, one may let his child use a lulav and esrog, even if he does not give it to him as a gift. For as we have seen, this mitzva does not require lachem - ownership. Since this mitzva is performed in accordance with halacha, a bracha can be recited, and one's chinuch obligation is fulfilled (24).
This would also resolve how girls (and children under the age of chinuch) take the arba minim on the first day, and recite a bracha with the assistance of an adult. Even though they have no chinuch obligation in this mitzva, they can recite a bracha and perform the mitzva if it is done properly. Again, since the mitzva of taking the lulav and esrog zecher LaMikdash does not require lachem, they have fulfilled the mitzva, and the bracha is valid.
However, there is a difficulty with the Kehillas Yaakov's solution. Granted, taking a borrowed arba minim on the first day is a mitzva. But it is not a fulfilment of the mitzva Mi' Da'araissa of 'u'lakachtem lachem bayom harishon,' the first day's Biblical obligation of taking one's own lulav and esrog. Since, as the Chacham Tzvi writes, there are two mitzvos on the first day (a Biblical mitzva and a mitzva of zecher laMikdash), there should be two mitzvos of chinuch on the first day as well! The Kehillas Yaakov is of the opinion that to fulfil one's chinuch obligation, one must fulfil the mitzva in accordance with halacha. Therefore, one should still be required to grant his child a set of arba minim to fulfil the mitzva Da'araissa. With regard to very young children and girls however, one may rely on this solution, since the only concern is reciting a bracha in vain. As a mitzva is being performed, the bracha is valid (25).
There is another solution to our dilemma of sharing the Four Species with one's child. Our difficulty stems from the requirement of owning one's lulav on both the first and second days. If we only needed lachem on the first day, there would be no difficulty - we would simply give the child the lulav after taking it ourselves. The next day, we would borrow the set from the child. As explained earlier, the second day has the status of the first day misafeik: we are in doubt that the second day is really the first day. Subsequently, we only need ownership on one of the two days. On each day, we suspect that day to be the first day, which necessitates lachem. Lachem is only a requirement in relation to that day. If the first day necessitates lachem, the next day does not. When we need lachem on the following day, the day before did not.
Bearing this in mind, we can solve our dilemma. The Bichurei Yaakov (26) suggests that one should give a child the arba minim so that he may fulfil his chinuch obligation properly. However, he should grant this gift with a t'nai - a condition. He should do the following: On the first day after he (and all other adults) have taken the lulav and esrog, he should give the child the arba minim and stipulate, "If today is the first day of Succos, which necessitates lachem, I am granting you this set as a gift. However, if Yom Tov is really tomorrow, and today is Erev Succos, then I am merely lending you this set and it is not a gift." On the next day, he can then fulfil his obligation. Since it still belongs to him, he can first fulfil his obligation, and then give his child the set as a gift (27).
However, if one has more than one son above the age of chinuch, the difficulty remains. (We have already explained that girls and very young children can make the bracha on a borrowed lulav and esrog). Granted, one gives his first child a gift, but can this child now give it to the next child as a gift? The question is based on the fact that a child can acquire a gift from an adult, but cannot grant a gift to someone else.
Even though a child cannot transfer ownership to someone else, according to Torah law, the Rabbis instituted that a child who reaches a certain level of intellectual maturity (28) may transfer moveable property (29). The Rambam (30) rules that a kinyan (property transfer) from a katan (minor) does not suffice for mitzvos and other instances where the Torah requires ownership. However, that is only where there is a Biblical obligation. The obligation to train children in mitzvos is only Mid'Rabbanan. For a Rabbinical mitzva that requires lachem, a kinyan recognized by the Rabbis will suffice. Therefore, after fulfilling his mitzva a child can grant a gift to his siblings so that they may fulfil their mitzva.
So far, we have discussed the proper way to fulfil the mitzva of arba minim. However, what should one do if he already gave his child his set of arba minim? Can he use them on the second day, or must he receive a gift from someone else?
If one could acquire a set as a gift without difficulty, he should do so. He should recite the bracha on this set and then use his set (actually his child's set) for the recital of Hallel and Hoshanos (31).
However, if one can only acquire a set with difficulty (the set must also be completely kosher), he should ask his child to grant him the arba minim as a gift on the second day of Yom Tov, and he can then recite the bracha (32).
Through the study of the laws of the arba minim, may we come to a deeper appreciation of this mitzva, and may this understanding in turn lead us to perform it with greater joy. This Succos, may we all merit a true Z'man Simchaseinu.
1 Mitzva 324.
17a. Although we have said that not returning the esrog nullifies the gift, this is not the case with a child. For a t'nai to be valid and be able to limit a gift, it has to meet certain criteria. One of these is that it be possible for the recipient to fulfil the condition set. If the condition is impossible to fulfil then it is the t'nai that is nullified and the gift that is valid. The Ran says that since a child cannot fulfil the condition of returning the esrog, the gift is valid and he does not have to return the esrog.
It is possible to make a condition that does limit ownership, that is, one can give a temporary gift. An adult can give a child an esrog for the time that it takes to fulfil his mitzva, after which the esrog reverts back to the adult automatically. The child would not then have to make a kinyan. The Rosh, however, writes that a temporary gift has the status of a loan. Thus the child is not considered the owner of the lulav and the requirement of lachem is not fulfilled.
The K'tzotz HaChoshen 241:4 disagrees with the Rosh. He considers a temporary gift to belong to the recipient and thus to be lachem and says this is the opinion of one of the Rishonim, Rav Avidgor. He adds that a matana al m'nas l'hachzir can be understood as a temporary gift. Therefore, according to the K'tzotz one can give a child a matana al m'nas l'hachzir which would revert to the adult's possession afterwards. The Nesivas HaMishpat 241:5, however, rules that the majority of the Rishonim follow the Rosh, and that one has to make a kinyan when returning the esrog which a child cannot do. He adds it is also possible that Rav Avigdor concurs with them and not as the K'tzotz understood him.
21. In Chidushei HaGrach al HaShas, Rav Chaim Soloveitchik explains the Ramban's opinion. There are two separate mitzvos of taking the Four Species. One is the mitzva of taking the arba minim on the first day, regardless of where one is. Then there is a second mitzva of taking the Four Species in the Beis HaMikdash for all seven days. After the Torah requires us to take the Four Species on the first day, the passuk concludes - You shall rejoice before Hashem all seven days. Since this mitzva is written alongside the mitzva of taking the Four Species on the first day, we understand it to mean we should rejoice with the Four Species. Therefore, any requirement that relates to the actual esrog, lulav, haddassim and aravos is also required in the Beis HaMikdash. However, ownership is not a requirement of the Four Species per se. An esrog which one does not own is not an invalid esrog; after all, the owner can use it. Rather, lachem is a requirement for the fulfilment of the mitzva of taking the Four Species. One does not fulfil his obligation with a borrowed esrog. Since it is a condition of the mitzva, and not of the actual esrog, we do not compare the mitzva of the Temple to the mitzva of the first day. Every mitzva has its own unique criteria. The word lachem is not written by the mitzva of the Temple, and therefore ownership is not required.
It is worth mentioning that there might be a practical application to this dispute. The Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna and elsewhere writes that the term Mikdash refers to Yerushalayim as well.
(Yerushalayim is defined by its boundaries at the time of the Temple.) According to the Rambam, there is a mitzva min HaTorah to take the Four Species in Yerushalayim all seven days of Succos. The Achronim disagree whether after the Temple was destroyed, Yerushalayim still retains this status. According to the Bichurei Yaakov 658:1, it does. Therefore, one who would go to the Kosel Hama'aravi during Succos would have a mitzva midoraissa to take the arba minim. Does this mitzva require lachem? According to Tosafos, since one would be obligated min haTorah, ownership is required. However, according to the Ramban, there was no requirement of lachem even when the Temple stood erect.
25. The Chachmas Shlomo, 658:6 uses a similar approach to resolve this issue. He explains that the mitzva of lulav is unique. There is a Biblical mitzva of arba minim and there is also a rabbinical command to take the Four Species. Each mitzva has different criteria. The mitzva min HaTorah requires lachem while the Rabbinic one has no such requirement. (He follows Tosafos, who state that when the Temple stood, since the mitzva to take the lulav and esrog was Biblically ordained, it required lachem). Since the mitzva of chinuch is Mid'Rabbanan when the Chachamim instituted this obligation they followed the guidelines of the Rabbinic command, not the biblical.
32a. The Lechem Mishna, Hilchos Lulav 8:10 quoted by Biur Halacha 658, s.v. Yitnenu explains this opinion in an entirely different manner. He explains that while the Rambam rules that when the adult gives a child a gift, the child acquires possession even according to Torah law, the Ritva disagrees. The child only has a Rabbinically recognized kinyan. The father still possesses Torah recognized possession. When the child returns the set to his father, the father then has possession according to both Torah and Rabbinic laws. The child merely returns what he received. The difference between these two interpretations would be if the child would instead of giving the arba minim to his father, would give them to a different adult. If a kinyan D'Rabbanan is recognized even according to Torah law, then it does not matter to whom the child gives it to. While if we say the child only returns what he received, a kinyan D'Rabbanan, then the second adult who doesn't possess a kinyan Da'araissa cannot use this set for the mitzva. The father also cannot use the set because he only possesses a kinyan Da'araissa. Mid'Rabbanan he does not own this set.
32b. According to the Biur Halacha above 32a, this would only apply to the father, not if the child gave the set as a gift to another adult.
32c. We find that the K'sav Sofer (Siman 129), in a different situation, ruled that we can consider the question if the child's transfer is acceptable as a safek and together with another safek it would be considered a s'fek s'feika. However the Pri Migadim rules that we cannot consider the second day of Yom Tov as a safek to create a s'fek s'feika to fulfil the mitzva of arba minim. It belittles the sanctity of the second day of Yom Tov if one can take a lulav that cannot be taken on the first day. Still, the Bichurei Yaakov, 649:32 rules that the second day of Yom Tov can be considered a safek for the purpose of a s'fek s'feika. He claims that Yom Tov Sheini is not be belittled by someone taking an esrog that was invalid on the first day. For on the second day if no other lulav is available, the halacha is that one takes a set even though it is invalid for the first day, (however, one would not recite a bracha). Therefore, YomTov Sheini, is not belittled in this way.
Finally, an additional reason that a bracha can be recited on a set received from a child on the second day is since the second day is a safeik Yom Tov, it is only a Rabbinical obligation. The Machezeh Avraham, Orach Chaim, siman 144 writes that even the Rambam would agree that on the second day one can use this esrog. A Rabbinically recognized kinyan is sufficient for a Rabbinic requirement. Therefore, even the Rambam would agree that one could use this esrog on the second day.
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