The Midrash relates that bringing together the "arba'ah minim" - four
species on Succos, represents the notion that all of Bnei Yisroel are one
and should be viewed as such regardless of their level of commitment to
Judaism. The "esrog" - citron has both a taste and a fragrance, thus
representing those amongst Bnei Yisroel who possess Torah knowledge and good
deeds. The "lulav" - palm branch, which lacks fragrance but has a taste
contained in the dates produced by the palm tree, depicts those Jews who
possess Torah knowledge but lack good deeds. The "hadas" - myrtle branch
possesses a fragrance but lacks a taste, reflecting those Jews who practice
good deeds but do not engage in the study of Torah. The "aravah" - willow
branch has neither a taste nor a fragrance, representing those amongst Bnei
Yisroel who have no Torah knowledge and do not engage in good deeds.
We do not use the dates produced by the palm in the performance of the
mitzva, rather the branch of the tree, which is tasteless. Therefore, why is
the lulav branch considered to have a taste?
Citing the Maharil, the Ramah teaches that we should begin building a Succah
as soon as Yom Kippur concludes, thereby moving immediately from the
fulfillment of one mitzva to the fulfillment of another. Why must we move
immediately to the mitzva of Succah rather than charity, Torah study, or any
The Talmud derives the laws pertaining to the construct of the Succah from
the clouds which arose from the Garden of Eden. What is the connection
between the Garden of Eden and the Succah?
The Talmud relates that when Bnei Yisroel received the Torah on Shavuos,
they reached the level of Adam prior to the sin in the Garden of Eden.
However, when they committed the sin of the Golden Calf, Bnei Yisroel
returned to the level of Adam after he was banished from the Garden for
having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge. On Yom Kippur Bnei Yisroel received
atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, and they should have gone into
Eretz Yisroel, built the Beis Hamikdash, and once again attained that
special closeness with Hashem. However, instead they committed the sin of
the spies which resulted in the death of that entire generation.
Succos represents the time period when, after having received atonement on
Yom Kippur, we enter the Garden of Eden, i.e. the Succah. This is the reason
why the construct and decor of the Succah, as well as the four species which
we are commanded to take in it are made to resemble a garden. Immediately
after Yom Kippur we are preoccupied with building the Succah, displaying our
desire to attain this elevated level of closeness with Hashem by joining him
in the Garden of Eden.
The Midrash teaches that one of the characteristics of the Garden of Eden
was that the bark of the fruit trees tasted of the fruit. Taking the
branch of the palm tree to represent the taste of the dates is reflective of
the notion that we are recreating our existence in the Garden of Eden.