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I’m trying to better understand the laws of the t’yomet of the lulav. Overall, I understand that it is valid unless ‘significantly divided,’ however, what level of division invalidates? For example, here is a picture of mine that is slightly divided but certified kosher. The reason for the question is to expand my knowledge base.

enter image description here

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  • There are plenty of books/Sefarim out there with color pictures describing every scenario
    – Chatzkel
    Sep 26 '21 at 4:03
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The starting point is the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 645:3:

בריית עלין של לולב כך היא כשהם גדלים גדלים שנים שנים ודבוקים מגבן וגב של שני עלין היא הנקרא תיומת נחלקה התיומת [ברוב העלין] [טור וב"י] פסולה היו עליו אחת אחת מתחלת ברייתו ולא היה תיומת או שכל עליו כפולים מצדו הא' וצד השני ערום בלא עלין פסול: הגה וי"מ לומר דאם נחלק העלה העליון האמצעי שעל השדרה עד השדרה מיקרי נחלק התיומת ופסול והכי נוהגין (ת"ה סי' צ"ז) מיהו לכתחלה מצוה מן המובחר נוהגין ליטול לולב שלא נחלק העלה העליון כלל כי יש מחמירין אפילו בנחלק קצת ואם אותו העלה אינה כפול מתחלת ברייתו פסול [כל בו]:

Lulav leaves grows like this: when they grow, they grow in pairs attached together from the back. The back of these sets is called the tyomet. If the tyomet is split (in most of the leaves) (Tur, Beit Yosef) it is invalid. If the leaves grew individually from the beginning, such that there is no tyomet, or if all double leaves are on one side and the other side has no leaves, it is invalid. RAMA: Some interpret this as meaning that if the central top leaf on top of the spine is split across the spine, it is considered a split tyomet and is invalid, and this is our practice (Trumat Hadeshen 97). However, initially it is the preferred way to do the mitzvah to get a lulav whose top leaf is not split at all, because there are those who are stringent when even some of it is split. If that leaf is not double from the beginning of its growth, it is invalid (Kol Bo). (Sefaria translation)

The Mishna Berurah 645:15 further qualifies this to mean:

האמצעי - ואם כלה השדרה בשני עלין יש על שניהם שם תיומת ואם נחלקה אחת מהם פסול

The middle - If the spine ends in two leaves they are classified as a t'yomes (i.e. a twin leaf), and if one of them becomes separated it is invalid.

Mishnah Berurah 645:16:

עד השדרה - עיין בביאור הגר"א שהסכים דלדינא יש להחמיר ברובו דבכל פסול רובו ככולו ועל מקצתו אין להחמיר כלל

Until the spine - Refer to the Gra who agrees that the halacha is for those to be stringent when (it is split) along the majority, then it would be completely invalid. (If split along the) majority (it) is considered like the whole thing (and therefore the whole lulav is regarded as being invalid), and if split only partially, one doesn't need to be strict as all.

The Mishnah Berurah 645:19 continues:

כי יש מחמירין וכו' - וטעמם דע"י הנענועים רגיל להיות בסופו סדוק כולו ועיין בט"ז דלדעתו אין להחמיר בזה רק אם נחלק כשיעור טפח ובח"א כתב דלדעה זו יש להחמיר אפילו במשהו ועיין במה שכתבנו בסקט"ז בשם הגר"א וע"כ אם יש לו לולב אחר יותר טוב לברך עליו משום מהיות טוב וגו' אבל מדינא אין לחוש לזה כלל כ"ז שלא נחלק רובו ועיין לקמיה בס"ז דאם נתרחקו ב' סדקיו זה מזה עד שנראה כשנים פסול

There are those who are stringent - The reason is because through the waving (of the lulav) it is normal for to become completely cracked at the end. And refer to the Taz who holds one does not have to be strict in this but only if it becomes split up to the measurement of a tefach. And in the Chayei Adam it writes that according to this opinion one should be strict even for a little bit (i.e. even less than a tefach). And refer to that which is written in se'if kattan 16 in the name of the Gra. Thus if he has another lulav it is better for him to make a blessing on it due to it being better. But as far as the actual halacha one need not worry with this since it is not split along the majority of the lulav. And see prior that if it became split - one leaf from the other until it appears like two it would be invalid.

So as far as the practical halacha, it would seem the most problematic if it was split along the majority of the spine of the Lulav with the two leaves effectively forking significantly along the end.

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