Why the Arba Minim?
Students study a biblical source for Sukkot, and then examine the arba minim from a historical and agricultural perspective.
In this lesson, students will:
1. Explain verses Vayikra 23:39-44, including why Sukkot is celebrated at that time of year and why we build sukkot.
2. Identify the arba minim in modern Hebrew, Biblical terms, and modern English.
3. Describe the historical significance/symbolism of each of the arba minim.
4. Describe the growth characteristics of each of the arba minim.
5. Describe the physical look/distinguishing characteristics of the arba minim.
Students should be able to:
1. Study a Biblical text in hevrutah.
2. Identify the arba minim by looking at pictures.
3. Understand one main form of symbolism connected to the Four Species.
|When you gather||באספכם||פס’ לט|
|The crops of the land||את תבואת הארץ||פס’ לט|
|This law will last forever (to keep Sukkot)||חקת עולם לדורותיכם||פס’ מא|
|Citizen or member of the Jewish community||מב: אזרח||פס’ מב|
Resources & Equipment needed
- Printed source sheets or link to Sefaria
- A set of arba minim for demonstration
- Printed copies of the Four Species chart for each student, or the Four Species Padlet
I. Teacher preparation (before class):
1. For a face-to-face lesson, print source sheets in advance or set up student devices.
2. For an online lesson, share all links with students in advance.
5. Bring a set of arba minim to demonstrate to the class (online or in-person).
II. Class Opening (online and in-person)
Show the arba minim to the class.
T: What are these?
S: Lulav, etrog, haddasim, aravot.
T: When do we use the arba minim?
S: On Sukkot.
T: Why do we celebrate Sukkot by sitting in a sukkah and using the arba minim?
Accept 3 answers without acknowledging anyone as the ‘right’ one.
T: Which reason does the Torah provide? Let’s look at Vayikra 23:39.
Distribute source sheets or share the Sefaria link.
III. Textual Pair Reading –Vayikra 23:39-44
T: I am looking for answers to the following questions.
Why is God commanding us to live in little huts outside our house? Why do we have to bring the arba minim? Why can’t we all just use some lemons?
Split into hevrutot, or pairs. In an online class, place pairs of students into separate breakout rooms to study the text together (make sure that they have the link to the text in advance).
T: Read the verses carefully with your hevruta partner, looking for the answers to the questions we just raised.
Circulate to ensure that students are working. In an online lesson, enter each breakout room for a few moments to check progress.
IV. Check for Understanding
T: OK, time is up. What have you come up with? Why the arba minim?
S: To celebrate bringing in the harvest when the crops are ready.
T: In which verse did you find this?
T: Please read the verse to the class.
S: באספכם את תבואת הארץ (when you gather the crops of the land).
T: And what is the purpose of our sitting in Sukkot, according to the Torah?
S: To remind us that we lived in Sukkot when God took us out of Egypt.
T: In which verse did you find this info?
T: Please read the verse to the class.
S: למען ידעו דרותיכם כי בסכות הושבתי את בני ישראל בהוציאי אותם מארץ מצרים (that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt).
V. Class Work
T: So the holiday of Sukkot has two purposes – to celebrate harvesting the crops AND to remind us of our Exodus from Egypt when we lived in sukkot.
Now, let’s talk about the arba minim. What are they?
S: Lulav, Etrog, Hadassim, Aravot.
Read verse 40 to the class. Ask students to identify each of the four species according to its Biblical name and fill in the chart together, using the handout or the Padlet to complete for each species: its common name, Biblical terminology, English translation, and symbolism. Then, add a drawing of each one of the species.
T: If you didn’t have a chance to draw pictures of the minim, please do so for homework. Which of the Four Species was unnecessary for the survival of the Jewish people?
S: The etrog.
T: Then why do we bring is it one of the arba minim?
S: To prove the success of the Jewish people acclimating as farmers in Israel.
T: So the etrog was considered a sign of wealth and luxury for Bnei Yisrael. They carried them on Sukkot as a sign of victory, representing their dominance of the land and their success as farmers.