Why Are We Waiving Branches?
by Rabbi Aron Moss
Someone asked me why we wave the Lulav in six directions - right, left, forward, up, down, backward. I didn't really know how to answer. Is there a simple way to explain this?
The four species that we bless on Sukkos correspond to the four letters in G-d's Hebrew name. Waving them in all six directions signifies our faith that G-d is everywhere. Specifically, we are saying that on every level, at every stage of life, in all that happens to us, G-d is there.
Right and left represent Chesed and Gevurah, the power of love and the power of discipline. G-d, like a parent, can be loving and can also be strict. Sometimes G-d's light shines on us and we feel close to Him, other times He seems distant, we feel left in the dark and have to find our own way through. Whether we receive G-d's closeness and love, or whether He gives us space to grow on our own, it is all coming from G-d. He knows exactly what we need, and that's what we get.
Up and down symbolize the highs and lows of life. When we feel we are on top of the world, we need to remember that G-d enabled us to get there. When we feel down in the dumps, we need to have faith that G-d is with us there. There is no success without help, and there is no failure without hope.
Forward and backward stand for the future and the past. We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we have faith that G-d will guide us through whatever lies ahead. And as for the past, all that has happened to us is a part of the plan. All our past experiences, even those that we would rather forget, made us who we are today. We are where we are now because that is exactly where G-d wants us to be. Our entire past was a lead up to this moment. G-d brought you here for a reason.
So the four species are waved around, to recognise that G-d is everywhere, in the good and the bad, in the ups and the downs, in the uncertain future and the turbulent past. And in the middle of all that is you. You are doing the waving. Because G-d will be there for you in all you do, if only you let Him in.