Succot Hallel: Application To Four Species
The Midrash1 understands the verse, “David and all the House of Israel were playing before God,2” as meaning the people were shaking their Lulavim! There is an element of play. They expressed total, free, and absolute joy. There is a dance to the Na’anu’im. We must shake and wave the Four Species with joy and excitement.
The Pesikta D’Rabbi Kehana3 asks, “What can we do to thank God for recreating us as new beings at the time of Techiat Hameitim – The Ressurection of the Dead? We will shake the Lulav and Etrog, which are described as “Rishon” – beginning – to celebrate a new life.
Miriam did this when she led the women in their Song at the Sea. The women danced in circle4s. The women had musical instruments that they had brought with them from Egypt. They were prepared for this song, because they said, before they left Egypt, “If God has already done so much for us, He will surely do more. We must be prepared to praise Him appropriately.5” Their song was an expression of expectation of what will happen. Each miracle served to convince them that more would come. Each miracle and celebration was a beginning.
In fact, the Midrash teaches that her circles –Micholot – brought Mechila – forgiveness – for sins committed by the men as they were crossing the sea6. Miriam and the women brought forgiveness that allowed the entire nation to experience a fresh start.
The very moment that we pick up the Lulav we have fulfilled the Mitzvah. That is why we pick up the Etrog upside down before we recite the blessing. We always recite a blessing before fulfilling a Mitzvah and if we picked the Etrog up in its proper position we would fulfill the commandment in that first instant and we would no longer be able to recite the blessing. The first moment is the deepest expression of the Mitzvah.
Hallel also includes the idea of a new creation7: David, the lowest of the family, is anointed as the next king of Israel.
1 Socher Tov: Samuel II2 Samuel II 63 27:34 5 6 7 See Hallel in Histpry: Part Two; page