(a) Tachanun:

In every prayer service at which Tachanun is not said (such as from Motzaei Yom Kippur until the conclusion of Rosh Chodesh MarCheshvan; at Maariv throughout the year; at Minchah on erev Shabbos or erev Yom-Tov; etc.), one does not beat one’s chest while saying the words חטאנו and פשענו in the blessing in the Shemoneh Esreh that begins סלח לנו.

(b) The Sukkah:

Even initially, [i.e., לכתחילה, and not merely בדיעבד, as a concession after the event,] the walls of the sukkah may be made of materials which are unfit for s’chach, which is its vegetative covering.1

It is our custom to construct a sukkah of four walls.2

We use an abundance of s’chach. It is not our custom to decorate the sukkah.3 It is not our custom to construct a special floor for the sukkah.

(c) The Four Species:4

One does not necessarily have to pay for the Four Species before Sukkos.5

The esrog should be yellow (like wax).6

The blessing is [preferably] made over an esrog from Calabria [in southern Italy], (of the species also known as Yanover esrogim).7

The [leaves of the] lulav chosen should not have the rounded tips which are known in Yiddish as kneplach (lit., “buttons”).8

One does not take more than one esrog, one lulav, and two willow twigs — but more than three myrtle twigs may be taken.9

I have heard of various individuals being instructed to take four, twelve, thirteen or twenty-six myrtle twigs, but not nine,10 sixty-eight or sixty-nine.11

One makes a point of binding the lulav [with the hadassim and aravos] in the sukkah on erev Sukkos.

Those who are meticulous bind the lulav themselves.12

One should try to make the aravos inconspicuous.

Two rings [made of leaves of the lulav] are bound around the lulav alone, [higher than the other three rings which will bind the lower ends of the hadassim and aravos to its base].

One should endeavor to see that these two rings are hidden by the [upper ends of] the hadassim and aravos. Even the upper ring should be at least partly concealed.

In addition to the above two rings, the hadassim and aravos are bound to the [base of the] lulav by three rings, which should all be tied within the space of a tefach [approx. 8 cm.]. There are thus five rings in all.13

The rejoicing of the festival begins on the first night of Sukkos.14

One rises early to fulfill the precept of the lulav [i.e., the mitzvah of pronouncing a blessing over the Four Species] at an early hour,15 especially on the first occasion [in any particular year].

[When reciting the blessing,] the lulav should be held [vertically] in such a way that one faces its spine.16

The blessing שהחינו, [which is added on the first occasion in the year that the Four Species are being used,] is begun while the lulav is held in one hand [viz., the right hand] and the esrog in the other [viz., the left hand]. At the conclusion of the blessing they are brought together.

When they are held together, the lulav should be touching the upper third of the esrog, which is held slightly inclined.17

For the naanuim, or “movements”, [the Four Species are held together, with the lulav held vertically throughout, and moved (in each of the directions listed below) three times to and fro, forward almost to arm’s length (הולכה) and back (הובאה), until each time their base touches the chest. Throughout the naanuim one faces east, so that south and north are on the right and left respectively.] The directions are as follows: (i) south-east; (ii) north-east; (iii) due east; (iv) upwards — but when lowering the lulav, before bringing it back to touch the chest, one first extends it somewhat earthwards, (suggesting hamshachah baolam, drawing Divine light downward into this world); (v) earthwards — but when raising the lulav, before bringing it back to touch the chest, one first extends it somewhat upwards, (suggesting haalaas haolam, elevating worldliness heavenward); and finally, (vi) westward — except that in this case the first two dual movements are directed to the south-west, and only the third dual movement is directed due west.

“The first seventeen movements back and forth represent keilim (‘vessels’); the last dual movement represents or (‘light’) — the yichud of the Shechinah in the west.”

Throughout the naanuim the esrog is held enclosed in the hand, except for the last time, when it is uncovered somewhat.

At each Hovaah, i.e., each time the lulav is brought back towards oneself, it should touch the chest “at the place one beats during the confession of אשמנו.”18

When handing someone the Four Species so that he can recite a blessing over them, it is proper to say explicitly that this is “a gift on condition that it is returned.”19 This practice applies especially on the first day, and “it is of benefit both to the donor and to the recipient.”

With regard to the verse beginning הודו at the end of Hallel,20 it is debatable whether the naanuim ought to be done while the verse is read the second time or the first.21 This doubt also affects the phrase אנא ה',22 [which likewise is always read twice, but] which on certain occasions requires naanuim only once.23

(d) Miscellaneous:

I have not seen the practice [in Chabad circles] of kissing the sukkah upon entering or leaving.24

Those who are meticulous do not drink even water outside the sukkah, even [in the Diaspora] on Shemini Atzeres.

Regarding Birkas Kohanim, see the above section (p. 82) on The Priestly Blessing.

There is a directive from the Rebbe Shlita that during the days of Sukkos people should take their lulav and esrog out to the streets, or wherever Jewish men and women are to be found, in order to afford them the opportunity of fulfilling the commandment.25

At the daytime Kiddush [just as at the nighttime Kiddush] of Yom-Tov and of Shabbos Chol HaMoed, the blessing of לישב בסוכה is said immediately after Kiddush rather than immediately after המוציא.

At Kiddush on the second night one first says the blessing שהחינו and then the blessing לישב בסוכה.26

It is customary to sing, clap and dance even on Yom-Tov, and even when it coincides with Shabbos.27

During Hallel, the lulav [alone] is held in one’s hand until the naanuim, at which time the esrog is joined with it.

(e) Hoshaanos:28

One is particular to make a complete circuit [of the bimah], ending it as one reads the phrase that includes the word beginning with the letter ת.

According to our custom, the sheliach tzibbur starts reading aloud at the phrase that includes the word beginning with the letter ס or ע.

When one reads the alphabetical phrases which the sheliach tzibbur says aloud, the word הושענא is read before and after each phrase; in the case of the earlier phrases it is said only once, [before each phrase].

The verses [and excerpts from verses] beginning כי אמרתי and לך דזוע and so on are said only on Hoshana Rabbah.

The bimah is not circled on Shabbos, nor is Hoshaanos said.

The omitted Hoshaanos reading for Shabbos is added to Sunday’s reading,29 but the bimah is not circled during its recitation.

(f) Additional Points:

In the Shemoneh Esreh of Mussaf, the phrase beginning ומנחתם ונסכיהם is added immediately after one reads the verse(s) that enumerate(s) each day’s sacrifices.30

On the Yom-Tov days of Sukkos and likewise on Hoshana Rabbah, the bread over which one recites the blessing המוציא is dipped in honey. During Chol HaMoed (including the Shabbos of Chol HaMoed) this practice is optional.31

In the course of Sukkos, some or all of the hadassim and aravos may be replaced [according to need].32

On Shabbos Chol HaMoed Sukkos, the last of the blessings of the Haftorah33 concludes with the words, מקדש השבת וישראל והזמנים, but Sukkos is not mentioned in the body of the blessing.34

(g) Hoshana Rabbah:

When reading Parshas VeZos HaBerachah in the course of the Tikkun on the night of Hoshana Rabbah, its Hebrew text only is recited [as with all the other parshiyos], once. The reading of each verse twice in Hebrew and once in the Aramaic rendition called Targum Onkelos35 takes place on the eve of Simchas Torah.36

A gartl is worn for the reading of the entire Book of Tehillim after midnight on Hoshana Rabbah. This reading is customarily not lengthy.

At the completion of each of the [five] sefarim of the Book of Tehillim, one reads the brief prayer (beginning יהי רצון)37 which is read on Hoshana Rabbah, as well as the similar prayer which is read after the moon has risen,38 but not the prayer39 which is said on Yom-Tov.40

On [the morning of] Hoshana Rabbah, before Hallel,41 one removes the two upper rings that are bound around the lulav alone, leaving only the three rings which join it with the hadassim and the aravos.

For the reading of Hoshaanos [on Hoshana Rabbah], all the Sifrei Torah are taken out of the Ark. This is the custom of Lubavitch.574

It is not our custom on Hoshana Rabbah to wish each other blessings such as גמר חתימה טבא [“May your inscription be sealed for a good year!”] or פתקא טבא [Aramaic: “May you be granted a good inscription!” (lit., “...a good note,” or, in Yiddish, “...a guter kvitl”)].574

(h) Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah:

On the eve of Shemini Atzeres and the eve of Simchas Torah, seven circuits (Hakkafos)42 are made [with the Sifrei Torah around the bimah]. At the daytime Hakkafos on Simchas Torah three-and-a-half circuits are made,43 though the text for the Hakkafos is read in its entirety.44

It is the custom of the Jewish people — and hence it is Torah — to rejoice on Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah more than at Simchas Beis HaShoevah, and more than on a usual Yom-Tov.45

“My revered father-in-law, the Previous Rebbe — citing his father, the Rebbe Rashab — earnestly taught that the forty-eight hours of Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah should be dearly cherished, for at each moment one can draw bucketsful and barrelsful of treasures both material and spiritual, and this is accomplished through dancing.”46

On Shemini Atzeres one recites Kiddush and also eats and drinks in the sukkah, both by night and by day.47

On Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah one does not dip the slice of bread (over which one recites the blessing המוציא) in honey.48

There were times [in the minyan of the Previous Rebbe] when a point was made of completing Shacharis on Shemini Atzeres before midday.574

The Haftorah for Shemini Atzeres49 is taken from I Melachim 8:54-66; i.e., from ויהי ככלות until ולישראל עמו.

If a person who was not praying with a different minyan heard the announcement of משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם before he had prayed Shacharis, it would appear to me that he should say this phrase in Shacharis as well [as in Mussaf].50

With the approach of sunset on the afternoon of Shemini Atzeres one enters the sukkah (and eats or drinks something there) to bid it farewell, but one does not recite the prayer that begins יהי רצון.51

On the eve of Simchas Torah it is the custom in the Rebbe’s minyan to ‘sell’ [i.e., to ‘auction’ the privilege of leading the congregation in the responsive reading of] the verses of the passage52 that begins אתה הראת, and to honor the Rebbe Shlita with reading aloud the first and last verses and occasionally other verses too. The proceeds promised on the eve of Simchas Torah benefit the Tomchei Temimim Yeshivah, while the proceeds promised by day benefit Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel.53

It is not our custom to read the Torah publicly on the night of Simchas Torah.

On Simchas Torah the Kohanim pronounce the Priestly Blessing at Shacharis [instead of at Mussaf].54

It is not our custom to spread a tallis as a canopy over the heads of the Bridegroom(s) of the Torah or the Bridegroom(s) of Bereishis [when they are called to the public reading of the Torah].55

The person who is called to the reading of the concluding passage of the Torah says the words חזק חזק ונתחזק together with the rest of the congregation. The same applies at the conclusion of the other [four] Books of the Chumash.56

At the farbrengen of Simchas Torah it is the custom of the Rebbe Shlita to encourage every man and woman present to participate in Keren HaShanah.57