The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which regulates imports into Canada, announced last week that they were enacting a ban on all commercial imports of the Four Species that Jews require to perform the Biblical commandment during the holiday of Sukkoth.
The four species are comprised of a date palm frond, a branch each of myrtle and willow, plus the specially-grown etrog, or citron fruit. Some suppliers buy the products from Israel, but others also source them from Egypt, Turkey and Morocco. Almost all of it comes in via New York and is then trucked to Canada.
The CFIA website states that Lulavs are allowed to be imported “For ceremonial or religious use during the holiday of Sukkot. Lulavs are for personal use only and must accompany the traveler at the time of entry into Canada. Commercial imports are not permitted.”
The site also states: “A Permit to Import is not required. A Phytosanitary Certificate is not required.
“The authorized period for import is three days prior to the beginning of Sukkot through to eight days following the end of the holiday.
“Lulavs must be free from insect and disease pests. If insect pests or diseases are found on any of the items that make up the lulav, the lulav will be prohibited from entering Canada.
Travelers must state the origin of the willow.”
The only way for thousands of Canadian Jews to be able to observe this Mitzvah would be to travel to the United States within three days of Sukkot and bring it back into the country for personal use.
After efforts by activists and Jewish MP Rachel Ben-Dayan, the ban has since been rescinded.
The four species are four plants mentioned in the Torah as being relevant to Sukkot.
On the first day you shall take the product of hadar trees, branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before Hashem your God seven days. (Leviticus 23:40)
Observant Jews tie together three types of branches and one type of fruit and wave them in a special ceremony each day of the Sukkot holiday, excluding Shabbat.