Daily Israel Report

Op-Ed: Sukkot Shakedown: A Political Four Species

In this satirical, fictional short story, two old friends meet by chance, leaving one of them 'all shook up'.
Published: Saturday, September 29, 2012 4:28 AM


"Yehoshua?" I called out to a tall familiar face among the crowd of lulav and etrog shoppers in our town's open air Four Species Shuk.

He turned and smiled. Grabbing his newly acquired arbah minim, he rushed over to shake my hand.

"It's been a long time," he said. "I haven't seen you in ages."

I nodded. All through grade school and high school we had been inseparable, but we had drifted apart after that. I made Aliyah after graduating while he stayed in the US for college. It was my mother who told me that he had recently made aliyah.

"So, what's up, Yehoshua?" I asked casually.

"Shuki," he corrected me. "I go by 'Shuki' now."

Funny, he didn't look like a 'Shuki'. I had difficulty calling grown men by Israeli nicknames. My boss at work is named David but everyone, except for me, calls him 'Dudi'. How can you really respect a guy who calls himself 'Dudi'?

"Ok, Shuki," I let the name float in the air of the shuk for a minute, "how do you like Israel?"

"I love it!" He smiled wide as he looked around the stalls filled with ten year old boys attempting to convince adults that their etrogim were superior to all others.

"Yeah, I guess." I yawned. I was not too excited about purchasing my four species, but I did it for my kids, who were running around somewhere. I was really only looking for 'a deal'.

"What do you think of my set?" Shuki asked, holding his lulav and etrog out for me to inspect.

"Nice," I said without really looking. "But tell me, how do you plan to shake them, Shuki?"

"Shake them?" he asked. "The same way we did it in the 'old country'. I wave them in all four directions, plus up and down. I know there are some slight variations depending on your custom, but that's the basic way."

"Oh, that's fine, fine." I checked my fingernails. "Of course, that's not the way we do it in Israel, but your way is fine too."
"What do you mean? Shuki asked. "They do it differently here in Israel? Tell me."

"I would, but it's complicated. Nah, forget it. When you go to shul and they say Hallel you just shake your lulav like you used to in America, everyone will understand that you're not from around here."

"No!" Shuki said, quite defiantly. "I live in Israel now and I want to shake my lulav like an Israeli!"

"Ok, ok," I said in a lower voice, "but come with me."

I led Shuki away from the stalls to a more secluded area.

"Ok," I explained, "in Israel we have different kinds of lulav shakes depending on what you believe."

"Go on," Shuki pleaded, very intrigued.

I took his lulav and demonstrated.

"What am I doing now?" I asked him.

"Shaking to the extreme left?" he guessed.

"Exactly. That's called the 'Meretz Shake', it's not as popular as it used to be, in fact it's virtually extinct these days."

"What else?" Shuki asked.

"Well, if you take you lulav and shake it to the right you have what's called the 'Ichud Haleumi' or 'Yisrael Beitienu Shake'?

"What's the difference?" Shuki asked.

"The Ichud Haleumi Shake requires that you wear a big knitted kippah while doing it as opposed to the Yisrael Beiteinu Shake that should be done while reciting the text in a Russian accent."

"I see," Shuki smiled. "Have you got anything else?

"Of course," I said proudly. I held the lulav sideways and told Shuki to grab hold of the middle while I grabbed the edges.

"What's this shake called?" Shuki asked, "The one with three hands on the lulav."

"This is the Bayit Hayehudi Shake," I smiled. "It's when three guys fight over who gets control of the lulav."

"Nah, I need something more 'traditional'. A 'medium' shake."

"Ok, how about this?" I shook the lulav slightly to the left paused, then shook to the right, then to the left, and repeated.

"What is that?" he asked.

"First I demonstrated the Labor Shake. Take note: that shake is to the left. Then I did the Kadima shake which is really a right shake with a couple shakes to the left. Finally I finished up with a Likud shake which consists of sharp right shakes with a few 'fakes' to the left. Got it?"

"I am utterly confused now," Shuki sighed. "I give up."

"Giving up? You've just described the Livni Shake. It's when you're so fed up that you put down the lulav and walk away. In the past it had other names like the Barak Shake, etc."

"You got anything newer?"

"There's a new Yair Lapid Shake that everyone's talking about but nobody's sure if it will stick or not. Check with me next year."

"I don't know," Shuki was getting fustrated, "maybe I'll just go ask my rabbi and do exactly what he tells me."

"That's called the Shas Shake. They do whatever their rabbi tells them."

"So, what do you do?" Shuki asked. "What's your shake?"

I pondered his question and whispered to him.

"When I go to shul and it's time to shake the lulav I simply look around and see what most of the people are doing. On one day they might be doing it this way, the next day they might be doing it another way. There might be a slim majority doing it one way and the rest doing it completely different, but I always hold on to that slight majority and go with that."

"And that system works for you?" Shuki asked in astonishment.

"It has so far," I said as I handed him back his lulav and winked at him. "I call it 'The Bibi Shake'."