The Gemara in Sukkah on daf :מא relates a story of Rabban Gamliel, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria, and Rabbi Akiva riding on a boat. The time came to shake lulav, but only Rabban Gamliel had a lulav. Since it is required to shake one's own lulav on the first day of Sukkot, Rabban Gamilel gave his lulav as a gift to Rabbi Yehoshua. After being yotzei, Rabbi Yehoshua gave the lulav as a gift to Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria who gave it as a gift to Rabbi Akiva who subsequently returned it as a gift back to Rabban Gamliel.

The Gemara explains that the reason it was required to say in the story that Rabbi Akiva returned the lulav to Rabban Gamliel was to teach that a gift given on the condition that it will be re-gifted back to the original owner is considered a gift.

Further down on the page, we also learn that if someone gives a lulav as a gift on the condition that it will be returned, and the person does not return it, the receiver is not yotzei the mitzvah of lulav because he used a stolen lulav.

Tosfot explains that Rabban Gamliel actually gave the lulav on condition that it would be returned after all of the others on the boat had been yotzei.

So my question is as follows: What if Rabbi Akiva had decided to keep the lulav at the end and not return it to Rabban Gamliel? Would Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Elazar ben Azaria be yotzei lulav? They did not personally steal the lulav, so I could definitely believe that if a person steals a gifted lulav, then the retroactiveness of the theft only goes back to when the person acquired the lulav. If others had it before him, since they didn't steal it, they could be yotzei. However, the gift was only given on the condition that it would be returned, which it was not, so perhaps the gift is considered to never have taken effect.

2 Answers 2


Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 658:5) rules explicitly that only if the last person returns the esrog is the first one (and all others) yotzei.

Interesting sidebar: The Biur Halacha is in doubt whether they were yotzei only if the last user returned the esrog on his own volition to the original owner or even if the original owner had to demand it back from the last user because it wasn't returned on its own.


The condition would not have been fulfilled, so the gift would have been retroactively invalid, so no one (other than Rabban Gamliel) would have been allowed to use the lulav, so no one would have been yotzei.

  • 2
    Do you have any evidence of this?
    – Daniel
    Jun 11, 2014 at 18:59
  • 1
    @Daniel The first clause seems obvious, and the rest of the answer follows naturally.
    – Ypnypn
    Jun 11, 2014 at 19:00
  • It wasn't stolen until after they used it, so they didn't use a stolen lulav.
    – Daniel
    Jun 11, 2014 at 19:03
  • @Daniel But the condition was never fulfilled, right? So it's retroactively stolen.
    – Ypnypn
    Jun 11, 2014 at 19:06
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    @Daniel But it's a matanah al menas lehachazir, on condition to return the lulav. If they didn't return it, there was never a matanah.
    – Ypnypn
    Jun 11, 2014 at 19:33

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