Guide to Shaking Lulav & Etrog
Succot is a seven day holiday and every day, except for Shabbat, we bless the Four Species during the Shacharit (morning) service. It is the usual morning service with Hallel, Hoshanot and a special Succot Torah reading added. We don’t touch the Four Species until we say Hallel. Take the Lulav set out of its case and hold it in the right hand with the branches facing up the way they grow. The Etrog is held in the left hand close to the Lulav. The Etrog is held with the pitam (point) facedown. The reason we hold it upside down is because this is a commandment where you bless first and then do the actual mizvah act. If we hold the Etrog right side up from the beginning, it will appear that we already did the mitzvah before we actually say the blessing.
Now we stand facing east and say the blessing:
“ברוך אתה ה’ אלו-הינו מלך העולם אשר קידשנו במצוותיו וציוונו על נטילת לולב”
On the first day of Sukkot we recite the shehechianu prayer as well:
“ברוך אתה ה’ אלו-הינו מלך העולם שהחיינו וקיימנו והגיענו לזמן הזה”
After reciting the prayer we turn the Etrog right side up.
After the blessing, we shake the Four Species to the six directions: south-north-east-up-down-west. In each direction, we shake them three times. During the Hallel we shake them all again. The first time is when we recite “Hodu lehashem ki tov” and afterwards we shake it twice at two verses where it says “Ana hashem hoshiya na”. Later in the service, when we say Hoshanot, we walk around the synagogue with the Lulav and Etrog and on Hoshanna Raba (last of the intermediate days), we walk around the synagogue seven times.