Here’s a Chassidic story, we shared it once before, that also ties into an explanation of why there’s a (Chabad) preference (not an obligation) to shake the Lulav inside the Sukkah, even though they are two separate Sukkot Mitzvot, each has their own blessing. So why the insistence on Lulav inside the Sukkah?

First the story: 

Once, long ago somewhere in Russia, a Chassid was walking on his way on a bitter cold winter day when a merchant stopped with his open wagon offering him a ride. The wind was biting, the cold was deeply penetrating, and he had a long way to go, so he was grateful for the offer. The front bench was already occupied so he found himself a space between the large barrels in the open back of the wagon.

It was easier to ride than to walk, but the biting wind on the rushing wagon was even worse. He discovered that they barrels were filled with whiskey. He asked his gracious host, the merchant, if it was OK for him to take a glass to warm up with. (I think its been proven scientifically that alcohol doesn’t actually warm you, on the contrary – but at least it was thought so, and let’s pretend its that way for the purposes of this story). The merchant obliged, and our freezing traveler savored every sip, he felt the warmth seeping through his body, and enjoyed the rest of the journey much more comfortably.

Then the inspiration struck him: Here I am sitting on a wagon, surrounded on all sides by large barrels of whiskey. Gallons upon gallons of it! Yet none of it warmed me. But if I take one small glass of it, and internalize it, and take it within and make it my own – ah, that makes all the difference!

Back to Lulav in a Sukkah:

Sukkah is the surround Mitzvah, Chassidus calls it “Makkif” it is more general, less personal, bigger picture. You can call Sukkah MACRO. Lulav takes the spirituality of the Sukkah, that general big picture of Sukkot and makes it personal, brings it home, in fact in Chabad, after each direction of Lulav we bring it back close to our heart. Lulav is the MICRO of Sukkot. So shaking Lulav inside the Sukkah expresses this Kabbalistical concept of Lulav and Sukkah, Lulav is the tool or device that ties the Macro and Micro, the overall and the personal, together!

On this same theme, see this other post from a past year’s Sukkot about Meatballs and Spaghetti as a metaphor for Lulav in the Sukkah...