Several hundred Christian participants in the International Christian Embassy’s 2017 Feast of Tabernacles shook the lulav and etrog for the first time earlier this week.
The lulav, a date palm branch, combined with myrtle and willow branches and a etrog or citron fruit, is one of the key symbols of Sukkot. Jews are commandment to shake the lulav in Leviticus.
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
Shortly before Sukkot, which ran from Oct. 4 to 11 in Israel, a prominent Israeli rabbi made a halachic (Jewish law) ruling that not only can Christians shake the lulav and etrog on Sukkot, but that they can do it with a blessing. He gave the ruling on condition of anonymity.
Jews are commanded to wave the lulav each day of the Sukkot holiday, except on Shabbat. Most people wave it in the morning, either before or during the morning prayer service.
Israel365 set up a booth at ICEJ at which participants could learn about the Jewish holiday, wave the lulav, and recite the blessing with a related meditation. Throngs of Christians stopped by to try it. Shakers included men and women of all ages from more than 50 countries.
The Feast of Tabernacles is considered the most universal Jewish holiday. The Jewish sage Rabbi Eliezer taught that on Sukkot Jews would bring 70 offerings to God for the merit of the 70 nations of the world. Additionally, the Jewish sage Rashi said the 70 offerings were meant to bring forgiveness to all 70 nations so that rain would fall throughout the world.
During the Feast of Tabernacles and weeks surrounding it, more than 45,000 Christians visit Israel, according to the Ministry of Tourism. ICEJ’s Feast of Tabernacles is the largest single event.