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Aravot

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Rabbi Elchanan Lewis

7 Adar I 5765
Question
Everywhere I have searched I have found the meaning of Aravah (Aravot) to be willows, but the Hebrew word for willows is given as either Ereb or Tasphtsaphah. I have also seen references for Aravot to mean cloud or heaven (one of). What is the literal meaning of the word Aravot? Does it mean cloud or dew?
Answer
The Rabenu Bachye on Vayikra 23; 4 links the Aravah to the Aravot of the Heavens (the seventh…) The word Aravah in Tanach means in most places dry land, plain or the wilderness as well as a particular tree known to us as the willow tree. We identify the Aravah tree as the willow, since the tradition of taking the Aravah on Succot never stopped from the times of Moshe Rabenu till these very days. I don't know why the willow tree was called Aravah.
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