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Occupy the Lulav by Virginia Avniel Spatz

Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 9:14-15 (JPS 1917 translation)

יד עִ֣יר קְטַנָּ֔ה וַאֲנָשִׁ֥ים בָּ֖הּ מְעָ֑ט וּבָֽא־אֵלֶ֜יהָ מֶ֤לֶךְ גָּדוֹל֙ וְסָבַ֣ב אֹתָ֔הּ וּבָנָ֥ה עָלֶ֖יהָ מְצוֹדִ֥ים גְּדֹלִֽים׃ טו וּמָ֣צָא בָ֗הּ אִ֤ישׁ מִסְכֵּן֙ חָכָ֔ם וּמִלַּט־ה֥וּא אֶת־הָעִ֖יר בְּחָכְמָת֑וֹ וְאָדָם֙ לֹ֣א זָכַ֔ר אֶת־הָאִ֥ישׁ הַמִּסְכֵּ֖ן הַהֽוּא׃
There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a great king against it, and besieged it, and built great bulwarks against it; now there was found in it a man poor and wise, and he by his wisdom delivered the city; yet no man remembered that same poor man.

Stand, if able, facing east. Gather the festival produce, real or imagined.
Hold lulav (three types of leaves; see below) in right hand and etrog (a fruit; see below) in left.
(Some hold the etrog’s pittom, the flower-producing end, down at this point.)

  • Aware of the palm branch [lulav], we awaken our “spines,” our central strength; we acknowledge fellow citizens who take a stand, whether we agree with their stand or not, toward a vision of common good.
  • Aware of the willow [aravah], we awaken our “mouths,” our ability to communicate by voice, hand or type; we acknowledge the precious gift of communications from others, the 99% and the 1%, about their circumstances, their needs, offerings and hopes.
  • Aware of the myrtle [hadas], we awaken our “eyes,” our ability to receive through whichever channels are available to us; we acknowledge our responsibility to remain open to others’ thoughts and experiences while also exercising discernment.
  • Aware of the citron [etrog], we awaken our “hearts,” our source of connection; we acknowledge our inter-dependence and the importance of standing, expressing ourselves and learning from others.

(Some have the custom of righting the flower-producing pittom at this point, as the blessing is recited.)

Make sure left and right hands, with all “four species,” are joined. Recite the blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽינוּ מֶֽלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם . אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֺתָיו . וְצִוָּֽנוּ עַל נְטִילַת לוּלָב:‏
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al netilat lulav.
Blessed are you EVERPRESENT, Sovereign of All, who has made us holy by this commandment and instructed us to wave the lulav.

Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 1:5-7 (JPS 1917 translation)

ד דּ֤וֹר הֹלֵךְ֙ וְד֣וֹר בָּ֔א וְהָאָ֖רֶץ לְעוֹלָ֥ם עֹמָֽדֶת׃
4 One generation passes away, and another generation comes;
And the earth abides for ever.

ה וְזָרַ֥ח הַשֶּׁ֖מֶשׁ וּבָ֣א הַשָּׁ֑מֶשׁ וְאֶ֨ל־מְקוֹמ֔וֹ שׁוֹאֵ֛ף זוֹרֵ֥חַֽ ה֖וּא שָֽׁם׃
5 The sun also arises,
And the sun goes down,
And hastens to his place where he arises.

ו הוֹלֵךְ֙ אֶל־דָּר֔וֹם וְסוֹבֵ֖ב אֶל־צָפ֑וֹן סוֹבֵ֤ב׀ סֹבֵב֙ הוֹלֵ֣ךְ הָר֔וּחַ וְעַל־סְבִיבֹתָ֖יו שָׁ֥ב הָרֽוּחַ׃
6 The wind goes toward the south,
And turns about unto the north;
It turns about continually in its circuit,
And the wind returns again to its circuits.

ז כָּל־הַנְּחָלִים֙ הֹלְכִ֣ים אֶל־הַיָּ֔ם וְהַיָּ֖ם אֵינֶ֣נּוּ מָלֵ֑א אֶל־מְק֗וֹם שֶׁ֤הַנְּחָלִים֙ הֹֽלְכִ֔ים שָׁ֛ם הֵ֥ם שָׁבִ֖ים לָלָֽכֶת׃
7 All the rivers run into the sea,
Yet the sea is not full;
Unto the place where the rivers go,
There they go again.

Extend your awareness beyond yourself by waving or shaking your hands, with their produce, in each direction – front, right, back, left, up and down – out and in, three times. As you do so, concentrate on

  • gratitude to That On Which All Depends [however you understand this concept; “YHVH,” the unpronounceable name of the Ineffable, in Jewish tradition]
  • gathering strength from The Source of All, and
  • calling on The Saving Power to unite us for the common good at this shakiest of seasons.

The lulav is also waved/shaken while reciting verses from psalms:

Psalms 118:1

הוֹד֣וּ לַיְיָ כִּי־ט֑וֹב כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ׃
Hodu l’adonai ki tov; ki le-olam ḥasdo
Thank God, who is good, whose kindness is everlasting

shake front [East]

[hold still when saying God’s name]

shake right [South]

shake back [West]

shake left [North]

shake up

shake down

Psalms 118:2

יֹֽאמַר־נָ֥א יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל כִּ֖י לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּֽוֹ׃
Yomar na Yisrael, ki le-olam ḥasdo
Let Israel say that God’s lovingkindness endures forever.

shake front [East]

shake right [South]

shake back [West]

shake left [North]

shake up

shake down

Psalms 118:25

אָנָּ֣א יְ֭יָ הוֹשִׁ֘יעָ֥ה נָּ֑א
Ana Adonai hoshi’ah na
Please, God, help us!

Shake front/East on first syllable, shake right/South on second syllable

hold still while saying God’s name

Shake back/West, shake left/North, and shake up on the three successive syllables

shake down

Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 9:10

י כֹּ֠ל אֲשֶׁ֨ר תִּמְצָ֧א יָֽדְךָ֛ לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת בְּכֹחֲךָ֖ עֲשֵׂ֑ה כִּי֩ אֵ֨ין מַעֲשֶׂ֤ה וְחֶשְׁבּוֹן֙ וְדַ֣עַת וְחָכְמָ֔ה בִּשְׁא֕וֹל אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתָּ֖ה הֹלֵ֥ךְ שָֽׁמָּה׃
Whatsoever your hand attains to do by your strength, do it!….

We are grateful to Virginia Avniel Spatz for sharing, in her words, “A kavvanah [intention] for seeking to more fully ‘Occupy Judaism’ at this season.”

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