I was in shul the other day shaking my lulav when it occurred to me that I had brown stuff on my lulav. I’ve seen the brown on lulavim before, but as I glanced around the shul I didn’t see any other brown lulavim.
My first thought was ,”oh $&%^! I bought a pasul lulav!” So there I was saying hallel and trying to pick the brown out of my lulav. All of a sudden the chazzan says Hodu, and I figure I gotta start waving this thing. As I’m waving and peeling I realize that a) I have no clue how to wave this thing, b) the brown stuff is getting all over my hair, c) I have no idea if the pittum should be up or down, d) I’m probably not allowed to tear the lulav on chag or make it (more) pasul than it might have been.
One step at a time, I thought. I look around the shul to see if the rest of the congregation can shake, but everyone was all over the place. So obviously I just gotta fake it. 0 for 1. Next, I checked whether or not the pittum should be up or down, but once again the shul fails me as some have it up while others have it down. o for 2. My lulav is still brown, and I think my pittum is loose. Luckily, I was using an Artscroll machzor (what do ya expect?), and it taught me how to wave. It said the esrog goes in the left hand, but everybody held lulav and esrog in the same hand – – – talk about modern orthodox.
So as you could imagine, by the the time Ana Hashem rolled around I was feeling pretty confident in my waving. As I started shaking, however, the stuff that ties the lulav together came loose, and then there was brown stuff everywhere! And because I was holding the esrog in my other hand like the frummie I pretended to be, I couldn’t dust myself off! I then put everything down, went to the bathroom, and cleaned up. When I came back, they were doing hoshanos! I knew I wasn’t going to parade around with the lulav from hell and get the rest of them dirty, so I got back to my seat and said hoshanos with a really intense look on my face (you’ve all done the look before).
Eventually, the nightmare ended, and I attempted to put the arbah minim from hell back into the cases. But wouldn’t you know that the lulav is hard to get into that bag! It didn’t slide in so well because the rope thing fell off, so I got poked a few times. Then I tried putting the bag over it, but then the aravos (or hadassim) started coming off. Next, I figured I’ll slide it in pointy side up, but the brown stuff started flaking everywhere! I asked the guy in front of me to hold it while I bagged it, and sure enough we did it.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how succos defeated me.
If you have any arba minim horror stories, please comment on the bottom. I can’t wait till chibut aravos or burning chometz!