A Willow is Not an Aravah

Oct 10th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in 613 Concepts, Holidays, What is the Reason?
A rose may be a rose, but a willow is not an Aravah:

It is Succot for me whenever I drive on a road through trees. No matter the time of year, I am on the lookout for kosher Aravot – Willows – for my Lulav and Hoshanot.

There are magnificent Aravot in Dobb’s Ferry, but they aren’t kosher. The leaves’ edges are serrated, and since “Her (Torah’s) ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are peaceful,” (Proverbs 3:17) sharp points, unpleasant and not peaceful, disqualify them.

Hastings on the Hudson has some “peaceful” leaves, but not the perfect combination of red and green branches.

Weeping Willows point down; they don’t reach up. The Z’man Simchateinu – the Time of Our Happiness – also precludes any weeping.

I’ve stopped on roads in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, to the chagrin of my wife and the Highway Patrol officers who suspect that someone who stops on a highway to examine willow leaves is DWI.

There are willows that grow near stagnant water. There are willows with round leaves. There are willows with white branches. There are even willows with leaves in the shape of triangles.

Willows are everywhere. The perfect Aravah is harder to find. I once trekked through the forests between Santa Clara and Santa Cruz for hours on a failed search for the perfect Aravah.

So, I go to Riverdale Judaica to buy my Aravot. The hours of searching make the two kosher Aravot so much more precious. They are treasured. There are willows everywhere, but these willows are not willows; they are Aravot.

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