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How does the symbolism of the four Sukkot species fit you?

“You will take for yourselves on the first day [of Sukkot] the fruit of a citron tree, date-palm branches, twigs of a plaited tree, and willows of the stream; and you will rejoice before Hashem your God for seven days” (Leviticus 23:40).  

What do the lulav and esrog you see Jews carrying on Sukkot mean? JooTube visited the 613 Mitzvah store in Pico-Robertson where Rabbi Shimon Kraft sells etrogs and lulavs for $40 a pair. Moshe Klein and Jonathan Eyshi, 10th-grade Yeshiva students at Mesivta Birkas Yitzchok in Los Angeles explain the lulav and esrog used in prayer during the Jewish holiday of the Tabernacles (Booths), the holiday of Sukkot which runs for a week, commencing Sept 20, 2013.

British scholar, Daniel Pinner writes: 

The Midrash explains the Four Species to represent four different kinds of Jews: “Just as the etrog has both pleasant taste and pleasant fragrance, so there are Jews who have both Torah-learning and good deeds… The date-palm has a pleasant taste but no fragrance, representing Jews who have Torah-learning but have no good deeds…The myrtle has a pleasant fragrance but no taste, representing Jews who have good deeds but no Torah-learning… And the willow which has neither fragrance nor taste represents Jews who have neither Torah-learning nor good deeds” (Vayikra Rabbah 30:12). All four species have to bepresent in order to fulfil the mitzvah; if any one of them is missing, then the Jew has not carried out the mitzvah at all (Rambam, Laws of Shofar, Sukkah and Lulav 7:5; Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 651:12); if, for whatever reason, one or more of the species is unavailable, then one shakes the others without saying the Brachah, in memory of the mitzvah which should have been  (Shulchan Aruch ibid.).  Read more of Be an Etrog on Arutz Sheva.
Rabbi Aaron Parry ("Complete Talmud for Dummies") explains the symbolism of the willow branches used in the Sukkot Hoshana Raba worship, originated in Israel's original, sovereign incarnation.

To get more of your questions about Judaism and Jewish ritual answered, purchase a copy of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Talmud" direct from Rabbi Parry here

Daniel Pinner concludes in Be An Etrog:
The myrtle with its pleasant fragrance but no taste, representing the Jew who has good deeds but no Torah-learning, survives for appreciably longer than the lulav with its pleasant taste but no fragrance, representing the Jew who has Torah-learning but no good deeds.  And finally we come to the etrog, with its pleasant taste and pleasant fragrance, representing the Jew who has both Torah-learning and good deeds.  The etrog remains fresh and fragrant and yellow (or green) for weeks.  Study and internalise the lesson of the Four Species.  Be an etrog-Jew! Contribute both pleasant taste and pleasant fragrance to the bundle of the Four Species, contribute both Torah-learning and good deeds to the community. The etrog-Jew is the Jew who survives, the Jew who endures.

P.E.T.A. activists chase chickens, vilifying Jewish kaparot atonement-ritual in orthodox L.A. neighborhood

Killing of chickens in Jewish ritual draws protests in L.A.

Animal rights activists and some liberal Jews have protested the practice of kaparot, in which chickens are slain. (L.A. Times Sept 11, 2013)   By Martha Groves and Matt Stevens

In a parking lot behind a Pico Boulevard building, inside a makeshift tent made of metal poles and tarps, a man in a white coat and black skullcap grabs a white-feathered hen under the wings and performs an ancient ritual.
He circles the chicken in the air several times and recites a prayer for a woman standing nearby whose aim is to symbolically transfer her sins to the bird. The young man then uses a sharp blade to cut the hen's throat.
In the days before Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, this ritual will be repeated untold times in hastily built plywood rooms and other structures in traditional Orthodox Jewish communities from Pico-Robertson to Brooklyn. Promotional fliers on lampposts in this neighborhood advertise the kaparot service at $18 per chicken or $13 apiece for five or more.
But the practice is increasingly drawing the ire of animal rights activists, and some liberal Jews, who say the custom is inhumane, paganistic and out of step with modern times.
This year, activists have launched one of the largest, most organized efforts ever in the Southland to protest the practice, known variously as kaparot, kapparot or kaparos.

Over the weekend, a coalition of faith leaders and animal rights proponents held a "compassionate kaparot ceremony" during which rabbis used money rather than chickens for the ritual, an accepted alternative. Organizers say that more than 100 people attended and that some stayed to demonstrate late into the night.
Since the ceremony, activists including several staunch vegans and alarmed residents have taken to Pico Boulevard each evening, handing out fliers, setting up candlelight vigils and even bargaining with one kaparot manager to rescue chickens on the chopping block in exchange for protesting more peacefully.
The demonstrations have sometimes gotten testy. Protesters and kaparot managers alike contend they've been peppered with anti-Semitic slurs.
In one instance Monday night, police were called after a woman refused to exit a parking lot where she heard the screeching of fowl. By the time police arrived, she had walked down the block. No one was injured, and no arrests were made.
But activists said they were expecting business at kaparot sites to soar as Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jewish people, draws near. The holiday begins Friday evening.

Watch The Kaparot Chronicles- Uncut (no pun intended) in 9 segments

Rescuers-united against terror, wildfires, and disasters- L.A.F.D & Israel

On September 11, 2013, Israelis honored and remembered the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children who died at the hands of terrorists 12 years ago.  A memorial ceremony at the site of the 9/11 Living Memorial in Jerusalem, honored the memories of the victims. 

At the Van Nuys, California fire-house (which sent its firefighters who happened to be on the East Coast in 2001) Southwest US Consul General David Siegel delivered a vase of flowers sent on behalf of the Living Memorial- to the Sherman Oaks stationhouse monument to the NYC World Trade Center and Pentagon victims.  The firefighters augment their unique monument which contains a limestone, remnant brick from The Pentagon and a steel beam from the World Trade Center- with a custom display of the names of the more than 3,000 people killed by Al Qaeda's hijacking on Sept. 11, 2001.

Asst. Chief Patrick Butler had collaborated with the Fire & Rescue Chief of Israel during a trip there.  Butler consulted with his Israeli counterpart in coping with the expansive Mr. Carmel Fire, and compared best-practices in first-response to disaster rescue- an area that Israel and earthquake-prone L.A. emergency services need to have expertise in.
World Net Daily reported in "Are Terrorists Setting U.S. Wildfires?"
In July 2012, William Scott, a former National Security Agency official and Aviation Week editor, told the American Center for Democracy that terrorists are using fire as a tactical weapon of war. Scott explained that after U.S. Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, they “captured a treasure trove of material that provided some unprecedented insight into the al-Qaida plans. And one of those was a detailed campaign for starting fires throughout the [American] West... U.S. officials have pretty much determined that some of the fires that burned in California [in 2011] were ignited by al-Qaida operatives,” Scott said.
Israeli Consul General to Southwest US David Siegel spoke about Israel's shared situation in defeating the forces of Islamism- especially those with WMD - such as chemical weapons in Syria.

Battalion 10 Cmdr. Don Reyes addressed the 9/11/13 Ceremony at Fire Station 88 in Sherman Oaks with his flying cross-country to NYC with 23 others to search, rescue, and comfort the victims of Al-Qaeda's attack on the domestic United States.

Event attendees, Fran and Harold Barash, discussed that 9/11 ceremonies such as Sherman Oaks ought to do more to educate Americans to the nature of the Islamist movement which attacked  (and we still combat) with its aims to subjugate non-Muslims to its will. 

Borscht Belt documentary "When Comedy Went to School" lets Jewish comics revive good-old days

The birth of modern standup comedy began in the Catskill Mountains. When Comedy Went to School lets comics like Jerry Lewis, Sid Caesar, Jackie Mason, and Robert Klein lead us through the hey-day of the Borscht Belt.

Sandy Hackett (son of Buddy Hackett, and producer of Vegas productions) who appears in the film- interviews filmmakers Mevlut Akkaya (a gentile) and Ron Frank (Jewish) at their premiere in Beverly Hills at the Laemmle Music Hall where the picture screens around L.A. through Thursday 12 Sept.

At L.A. Premier of "When Comedy Went to School," actor Sandy Hackett tells one of his dad's off-color joke's which Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson, wouldn't permit on the air.

High-Holiday special: What does G-d really expect from me? Faith? Ritual? Conduct? Orthodox rabbis answers may surprise you

Observant or secular: "Conduct unbecoming" a Jewish person?  Leading Orthodox Rabbis on Jews' behavioral obligations

Orthodox Rabbis Shmuel Goldin (Rabbinic Council of America) and Joel Tessler (Int'l Rabbinic Fellowship) are asked about Jewish ideals we should uphold- and what's hypocritical and what isn't.

Secular humanism (being a good person) alone does not make one a "good Jew," says Potomac, Maryland Rabbi Joel Tessler.

What are our obligations to G-d in faith, conduct & deed? Rabbi Moses Parry explains:

Faith without deeds- can one be "a good Jew"?  Orthodox Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of N.J.