Shiur (measure, i.e. length) of a Lulav, Hadasim and Aravos II B-22: The minimum shiur for a lulav is four tefachim (handbreadths) long. …According to HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein (zt”l) it should be ‘l’chatchila’ (preferably) 15 inches. The hadasim and aravos must be three tefachim long. That is, the twig of the hadas and arava should be at least three tefachim long (i.e. each one). According to HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein it should be ‘l’chatchila’ 11 inches long.
These are minimum shiurim; they may be larger. However, the ‘shedra’ (spine) of the lulav must be at least a tefach higher than the hadasim and aravos when tied together. In case of great need, these minimum amounts may be reduced. Where required, ask a Rav.
Shiur of ‘meshulash’ of the hadas. You will recall that the hadas has an additional shiur requirement: the length of the segment of the twig that is ‘meshulash’ – i.e. its leaves are uniformly in groups of three coming out of the same vertical point. Here is what Rav Eider writes about that:
III A: 3) Although ‘l’chatchila’ the entire length of three tefachim should be ‘meshulash’, however, the hadas is kosher even if most of the shiur of three tefachim is ‘meshulash’ (Heb. ‘rov meshulash’). If the hadas was longer than three tefachim, there is no requirement for most of the hadas to be ‘meshulash’; the only requirement is that most of the shiur of three tefachim must be ‘meshulash’.
4) If most of the shiur of three tefachim (of ‘meshulash’ - or most of it) was not situated in one area of the hadas but is spread over the hadas, it may be kosher. (Note: In Guidelines, this is affirmed in question #321 (p. 106): Q: Must the required length be continuous? A: Ideally yes, but if necessary one may combine several kosher sections to make up the required length.)
MBY 651:1-15 Taking the lulav and its bracha (abridged) Our source for this lesson is Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 137:1-4 (Metsudah edition, translated by Rabbi Avrohom Davis)
1) You should take the lulav, together with the bundle (including the hadasim and aravos) - the stem (spine, green side) of the lulav facing you - in your right hand and the esrog in your left hand. Since, with regard to all mitzvos, you must say the bracha before performing the mitzvah, and you must also hold the esrog in the manner it grows (i.e. that the stem from where it was cut off the tree should point downward and the pitom upward), therefore, when you pick up the esrog before saying the bracha, you should hold it upside-down, with the stem facing upward and the pitom downward, in order not to fulfill the mitzvah (before saying the bracha). Did you get that?! Then, while standing, you should say the bracha ‘Baruch… asher… al netilas lulav’ (because the lulav is taller than any of the other species, it is considered more important, and the entire bundle is called by that name.) On the first day of Sukkos you should also say ‘Shehecheyanu’. (Note: If the first day of Sukkos occurs on Shabbos, when we do not take the lulav, then you say ‘Shehecheyanu’ on the second day.) After the bracha you turn the esrog around (right-side up), and, holding it close to the lulav, so that there is no separation between them, you wave the species towards the four points of the earth, in this sequence: East, South, West, North, up and down. When waving during Hallel and during the Hoshanos, you should also be careful to hold the esrog close to the lulav, so that there is no separation between them. If you did it in the opposite manner, and took the esrog with the right hand and the lulav with the left hand, you should take them again without saying the bracha.
2) A left-handed person should take the lulav with his “right” hand, which is everyone else’s left hand, and the esrog with his (so called) “left” hand. If he did it in the opposite manner he should take them again without saying a bracha. A person who is ambidextrous is considered as any right-handed person
3) It is proper to take off the tefillin before taking the lulav in hand, or at least remove the strap from your hand, so that nothing intervenes between your hand and the esrog. It is also proper to remove the rings from your fingers! (Footnote #17 in the Artscroll edition: “… if one took the lulav without removing the interposition – tefillin straps or rings etc. – he has not fulfilled his obligation. Therefore, he should take the lulav again, but should not recite the blessing.”)
4) The order of the waving in Hallel is as follows: There are six words in the verse ‘Hodu’ (“Give thanks etc.”) besides the Name Hashem; and at each word you should wave in a different direction; but when saying Hashem, you should not wave. At ‘Hodu’ you wave towards the East (straight ahead) , at ‘ki’ towards the South (right), at ‘tov’ towards the West (back), at ‘ki’ towards the North (left), at ‘l’olam’ - upward; at ‘chasdo’ – downward. The chazzan waves only at ‘Hodu’ and at ‘Yomar na Yisrael’. The congregation waves each time they say Hodu. At ‘Ana’, both the chazzan and the congregation wave only when saying ‘Ana Hashem hoshiah na’ (“Please Hashem, save us now!”). But since this verse has only three words besides Hashem, you should wave at each word in two directions. In the ‘Hodu’ at the conclusion of Hallel both the chazzan and the congregation wave again. When waving downward you should lower only your hands, while the lulav and the other species should remain in an upward position, the same way they grow. (Note: People who have the custom to turn the lulav downwards, should not change their custom.) It is not necessary to turn your face in the direction in which you are waving; you should only point the top of the lulav in that direction. You do not have to wave the lulav forcefully; just shaking it slightly to rustle the leaves is sufficient.
Here is an additional halacha from this siman (wording from A Summary of Halachos of the Four Minim, by Rav Shimon Eider zt”l, p. 1:
The Four Minim are all one mitzvah The four minim (species) all constitute one mitzvah, and all four are required to fulfill this mitzvah. If one does not have all four minim, he may not recite a bracha on the rest. However, he should take whatever he has without a bracha, on order that the mitzvah of the Four Minim should not be forgotten. (However, he should not intend for the mitzvah, so that there should not be any question of ‘bal tigra’ – lit. “Do not detract” - i.e. the prohibition against detracting from any mitzvah or its contents.)