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Thought for the Day: How Young Fathers Can Bentch Lulav on Second Day Yom Tov

This is a PSA for young fathers.  Included in that category are fathers with children old enough to bentch lulav by themselves, but are have not yet reached the age of majority (12 for girls, 13 for boys).  I suppose some of us zeidy's (sorry, I just cannot bring myself to write "zeidies") who daven k'vasikin and therefore might return from davening after their son-in-law has left for shul and now the grandchildren want to bentch lulav with zeidy.  Just saying.  Hypothetically.

What's the problem, you ask?  I'm glad you asked.  The Torah requires that one use his own, personal lulav on the first day of Yom Tov.  The rest of the days, for which the obligation nowadays that we do not have a Beis HaMikdah (may it be rebuilt soon and in our lifetime) is of Rabbinic origin, does not have that requirement.  Therefore you are allowed to use a borrowed lulav after the first day.  Why in the world would  any of us fat, rich Americans not have his own m'hadrin min ha'madrin luluv?  We may be fat and rich, but we are not (according to many authorities) stupid; many of us do not buy a lulav for the wife and all the kids.  In any case, we all know the ritual: One the first day, you give your lulav to the poor, unfortunate lulavless waif על מנת לחזור/on condition that he returns it.  Therefore it is his while he performs the mitzvah, and your's once again when he returns it.

Let's slow down a bit, the devil is in the details.  Technically, you are מקנה/granting your lulav to the waif and he is קונה/acquires it.  When the waif returns it, he is the מקנה and you are the קונה.  Here, then is the problem: a child can קונה/acquire, but he cannot not מקנה/grant.  Therefore, once you give the lulav to the child, it is his forever; or at least till after the child reaches the age of bar/bas mitzvah.  The Mishna Brura, in fact, addresses that issue and tell you to be sure that you  -- and any other adults who are depending on using your lulav on the first day --  have already fulfilled your mizvah of lulav before giving it to the child.  That's great for the first day, but for us fat, rich Americans who are celebrating Sukkos outside of Eretz Yisrael... what do we do for the second day?

This question bothered me for years (yes, years), and I have finally found three approaches.  The best, of course, is to be a bit less stupid and buy a lulav set for each child old enough.  Wonderful advice; two caveats: (1) If you are going to buy him/her a חינוך/educational set, be sure it is completely kosher according to at lest minimum standards.  If not, he is not fulfilling the mitzvah at all and you are not educating him in fulfilling mitzvos; making you a bad Jew, bad parent, and terrible role model.  Don't do that.  (2) If you are going to the school board to ask for a tuition break, you may want to consider the next, less expensive but perfectly acceptable, alternative.

Second approach: Why to we have two days of Yom Tov?  Because of a doubt in the calendar. (Whether or not a doubt really exists nowadays is outside the scope of this TftD.)  Therefore, on the first day dd another condition to the gift prescription.  Namely: "If today is really Yom Tov, then I am giving you this lulav על מנת לחזור.  If today is still erev Yom Tov, then I am not giving this to you as a gift at all."  That way, if the first day really is Yom Tov, then the kid owns the lulav, but you can use a borrowed lulav on the second day because then the second day of Yom Tov is really chol ha'mo'ed.  If, however, the first day was really erev Yom Tov, though, you have not given away your lulav to someone who cannot return it because your condition stipulated that the gift applied only if the first day was really Yom Tov.  You therefore still own your lulav and may fulfill your Torah obligation before handing it over to the kids.

Third approach: The Biur Halacha at the end of siman 649 brings (in brackets; not sure what that means, but seems to be a footnote in a footnote) brings that the Birkei Yosef, the Rahn, and the Bach all imply that you can use a borrowed lulav on the second day of Yom Tov here in galus.  Rely on that at your own risk.


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