Abstracted from Guidelines, by Rabbi Yitzchok Jaeger and Rabbi Elozor Barclay
1. Must a lulav have a hechsher?
- No. According to most opinions, all species of palm are kosher.
2. Must the leaves lie against the spine?
- If the leaves lie against the spine, the lulav is mehudar.
- If the leaves fan out to the side, but can be tied down to the spine, the lulav is kosher but not mehudar.
- If the leaves fan out to the side, but cannot be tied down to the spine, the lulav is possul.
3. What if some of the leaves are split?
- Each leaf is comprised of two halves. These halves are connected along the length of the leaf on the same side as the spine of the lulav, but are separated on the opposite side. If the t’yomes leaf is split, the lulav may be possul.
4. What is the t’yomes?
- It is the leaf that grows out of the top of the spine. This is usually the tallest leaf.
5. How does a split t’yomes affect the kashrus of the lulav?
- If the t’yomes is split more than half its length, the lulav is possul.
- If it is split more than 8cm but less than half its length, the lulav is kosher according to many opinions.
- If it is split less than 8cm, the lulav is kosher according to most opinions.
- If the t’yomes is perfectly closed, the lulav is mehudar.
6. May a split t’yomes be glued together?
- If the t’yomes is split more than half its length, gluing it does not make the lulav kosher.
- If it is split less than half, one may glue it to prevent it splitting further and becoming possul.
A rav should be consulted before doing this.
7. What if the t’yomes is not comprised of two halves?
- The lulav is possul.
8. What if two leaves are growing out of the top of the spine?
- This is called a double t’yomes. All the above laws apply to each t’yomes.
9. May one use a lulav with a completely split t’yomes after the first day?
- On Yom Tov sheini a b’racha may not be recited on such a lulav, but during chol hamoed one may recite a b’racha on it.
10. What if the top of the t’yomes has been cut off?
- The lulav is possul if any amount is missing. Some lulavim have a brown needle-like projection extending beyond the top of the t’yomes. If this is missing, the lulav is still kosher, but an expert should be consulted to ascertain whether part of the leaf is also missing.
11. What if one of the two tips of the t’yomes has been cut off?
- One should preferably not use such a lulav.
12. What if a lulav with a double t’yomes has one cut t’yomes?
- The lulav may be used as long as one t’yomes is complete.
13. During chol hamoed may one use a lulav whose t’yomes has been cut off?
- No. Such a lulav is possul for all seven days.
14. What if the two halves of the t’yomes are different heights?
- According to some opinions, the lulav is kosher even if the halves are noticeably different heights.
- According to other opinions, the lulav is kosher only if the two halves are not noticeably different heights.
15. What if the two halves are different widths?
- The lulav is kosher if the difference in width is less than half.
16. What if the two halves are bent apart?
- If the tips of the two halves look like two prongs of a fork the lulav is possul. Such a lulav is possul even if the two halves appear only slightly apart from each other, as long as a clear gap can be seen between them.
17. Is it easy to identify this type of lulav?
- No. Since the two halves are connected for almost their entire length a person could mistakenly believe that the lulav is mehudar. If one has even the slightest doubt about his lulav, he should show it to an expert.
18. May such a lulav be used on chol hamoed?
- Yes, and a b’racha may be recited on it.
19. What if a double t’yomes has this defect?
- The lulav is possul even if only one t’yomes has this defect.
20. What if the top leaves are stuck together with a brown covering?
- According to some opinions, the lulav is mehudar since any possible split in the t’yomes is held together by the brown covering, known as kora. However, the outer leaves should be separated to allow them to rustle when the lulav is waved. The central three leaves should not be separated.
- According to other opinions, the brown covering should be carefully removed and the t’yomes checked. Many suppliers object strongly to customers removing the brown covering before deciding to buy the lulav, and one must receive explicit permission to do so.
21. What if the top of the t’yomes is wrinkled like a zigzag?
- One should preferably not buy such a lulav. In any event one should check that the top does not look like a fork, since this is very common in this type of lulav.
22. Is a dry lulav kosher?
- There are several factors that affect the kashrus of a dry lulav, such as which leaves are dry and to what degree. Therefore, when purchasing a lulav before Succos, one should be sure that it is perfectly fresh. If one’s lulav dries out even slightly during Succos, it should be shown to a rav.
23. How can one prevent a lulav from drying out?
- In a hot climate, an unprotected lulav can become dried out and possul in a few hours. The lulav should be kept in a cool place, preferably sealed in an airtight plastic holder.
24. What if the tip of the lulav was burnt by the sun?
- The lulav is kosher.
25. Is a bent lulav kosher?
- If the spine is bent backwards, one should preferably not buy the lulav.
- If the spine is bent to the side, the lulav is kosher but not mehudar.
26. What if the tops of the leaves are folded over?
- One should not buy a lulav if most of its leaves are folded over. If only a few of the leaves are folded over, or the leaves are only slightly bent, the lulav is kosher.
27. What if the top of the t’yomes is folded over?
- The lulav is kosher. Some opinions prefer this type of lulav since its t’yomes cannot be split.
28. What is the required length of a lulav?
- The length of the spine should be at least 40cm. This is measured from where the lowest leaves are connected to the spine until the top of the spine (not including the t’yomes).
- In extenuating circumstances, one may use a lulav if the spine measures 32cm.
- According to one opinion, a long lulav is more mehudar.
Note: It is recommended to buy a lulav whose spine is at least 50cm long, to facilitate attaching the hadassim and aravos in the correct way.
29. What should one look for when buying a lulav?
- The following points are essential:
· The t’yomes is not open like a fork.
· The t’yomes is not split more than half its length.
· The t’yomes is not cut off.
- The following points are preferable:
· The t’yomes is completely closed.
· The two halves of the t’yomes are the same height and width.
· The leaves lie completely flat on the spine.
· The spine of the lulav is 50cm long.
· The lulav is green and fresh looking.
· The lulav is completely straight.