Category: Culture

Many months ago, I was passing though the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle and saw that not only was there something called “Jazz at Lincoln Center” but that Dave…

Culture Personal

YU’s Commentator reports that Revel dean Dr. Arthur Hyman will be stepping down from his administrative post, but will continue teaching courses in Jewish Philosophy. To some students, Dean Hyman gave the impression of a grandfatherly adviser, one of Yeshiva University’s many eccentric characters. This perception and the Commentator’s relatively light coverage1 neglect Dean Hyman’s contributions and tireless efforts to improve Revel’s academic reputation.


Like all good New Yorkers, I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday’s game. It was actually the first time in years I can remember watching the game with friends with the intent of…


Since turning 30 last August I’ve been a little more aware of my age, making the occasional self-deprecating grizzled remarks about the old days. Age is especially noticeable in the…


There’s a running debate on the merits of a liberal arts education. Detractors generally claim that it’s useless in “the real world” and supporters generally counter that it “teaching you…

News & Events

Like most people, there are some experiences in life I usually try to avoid. Most of the time it’s part of an aversion to some sort of discomfort, usually phusical…

Personal Religion

We recently mocked big business for outsmarting themselves in the

Economics Law Politics

In the world of competitive finance, there’s never a bad time to make money. Sure the subprime market has many feeling the pinch, but the real opportunists find ways to…

News & Events

This campaign season JP Morgan Chase has been holding Town Halls featuring various presidential candidates. Apparently one of CEO Jamie Dimon’s mandates was that the company become more involved politically…


Delivered with visual aids on the second day of Sukkot 5768 at B’nai Israel Congregation of Baltimore.1

One of the more popular interpretations of the Lulav bundle is that each of the four species represents a different type of Jew based on their possession of Torah or good deeds (Vayikra Rabba 30:12). Specifically:

  • The lulav has taste but no smell, symbolizing those who study Torah but do not possess good deeds.
  • The hadass has a good smell but no taste, symbolizing those who possess good deeds but do not study Torah.
  • The aravah has neither taste nor smell, symbolizing those who lack both Torah and good deeds.
  • The etrog has both a good taste and a good smell, symbolizing those who have both Torah and good deeds.

Homiletically, this midrash teaches a message of communal unity. The lulav bundle, also called an “aggudah” (B. Sukkah 33a), represents joining of religiously diverse Jews, presumably towards the service of God. Practically speaking, this message is largely ignored as evidenced by the widespread infighting amongst the divergent Jewish communities.

I suggest that this midrash is not to be taken in isolation. Rather, the homiletic symbolism of the lulav bundle may be understood in conjunction with the corresponding halakhot to provide not only a unique model, but instructions for maintaining a unified Jewish community.