A Beginner's Guide to Shaking Arba'a Minim

Step 1

Sukkot is a seven day holiday and every day, except for Shabbos, we bless the Arba'a Minim (Four Species) during the Shacharis (morning) service. It is the usual morning service with Hallel, Hoshanos and a special Sukkot Torah reading added. 

Take the lulav set out of its case and hold it in the right hand (if right handed) with the branches facing up the way they grow.

For those who have a custom to pick up the esrog prior to the bracha, the esrog is held in the left hand close to the lulav and the heart and with the pitam (point) facedown. The reason we initially hold the esrog upside down (or not at all) is because Arba'a Minim is a commandment where you bless first and then do the actual mitzvah act. If we hold the all the species correctly from the beginning, it will appear as if the mitzvah has already been performed before we have said the bracha (blessing).

We stand facing east and say the following bracha:

“ברוך אתה ה’ אלו-הינו מלך העולם אשר קידשנו במצוותיו וציוונו על נטילת לולב”

"Baruch Atah Ado - noi Elo - heinu Melech Ha-Olam Asher Kideshanu Be-Mitz-votav Ve-Tzivanu Al Netilat Lulav"

On the first day of Sukkot we recite the bracha of shehechianu as well:

“ברוך אתה ה’ אלו-הינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה”

"Baruch Atah Ado - noi Elo - heinu Melech Ha-Olam She-Hechiyanu Ve-Kiyimanu Ve-Higiyanu Lazman Ha-Zeh"

 

Step 2

After reciting the bracha we turn the esrog right-side-up (or pick up the esrog) and hold the combined four species close to the heart.

We then shake the Arba'as Haminim in six surrounding directions:

south-north-east-up-down-west

There are different minhgagim (customs) regarding the order of directions for shaking the Arba'as Haminim.

In each direction, we shake the Arba'as Haminim three times away from the heart.

During Hallel we shake the Arba'as Haminim again as above. We also walk around the bimah when we say Hoshanos holding the Arba'as Haminim close to the heart.