For a religion as old as Judaism, declaring any one ritual or holiday to be "the most" anything seems like folly.

But one practice during the upcoming holiday of Sukkot -- waving the "four species," known as the Lulav and Etrog -- is certainly in the running for most unusual.

The ritual is first mentioned in the Torah in Leviticus 23:40: "And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days." These are understood to be the etrog (a fragrant citrus fruit), date palm, myrtle and willow.

Today, observant Jews take great care when purchasing the fruit and plants before the festival of Sukkot: leaves are inspected for freshness, the citron is examined under magnifying glasses for perfection and exorbitant prices are paid for the best specimens. Indeed, Hasidic stories grant mystical powers to the etrog and its stringent bearer.

Why so much trouble? According to NeoHasid.org, it all has to do with water. Each plant embodies a habitat of the biblical land of Israel, and each is distinguished by a connection to water. And since Sukkot comes just before Israel's season of rain, the holiday is a time to thank God for summer's abundance and ask for another good year of crops:

"That's why the tips of each species, the pitom of the etrog, the unsplit central frond of the lulav, the end leaves of the myrtle and willow, cannot be dried out: it would be like praying for good health while eating junk food."

The ritual itself is Judaism's closest thing to a rain dance. Leaves of the three trees are joined with the etrog and shaken together three times in six directions: right, left, forward, behind, up and down. This ritualized movement is meant to draw blessing from all corners of the earth and send blessing out to all of creation.

After shaking the lulav and etrog in one direction, it is brought back toward the body before being shaken in the next direction. Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman connects the practice to Einstein's elusive Unified Field Theory: "By shaking the four species outward to the six directions of space and then bringing them back to our hearts, we unify and sanctify space within time."

While the ritual of the four species may seem hard to top in terms of uniqueness, it has its competition. Weigh in below...

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  • An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man checks an etrog, a lemon-like citrus fruit, for blemishes to determine if is ritually acceptable, before buying it as one of the four items used as a symbol on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or "lulav," with two other branches, along with an "etrog," as they make up the "four species" used in holiday rituals. The week-long holiday begins Wednesday. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • An Ultra Orthodox Jewish man holds a hadas, a myrtle branch that is one of the four items used as a symbol on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, to examine it for blemishes and determine if it is ritually acceptable before buying it at a fair in the city of Bnei Brak, Israel,Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or "lulav," with two other branches, along with an "etrog," they make up the "four species" used in holiday rituals. The week long holiday begins on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Ultra Orthodox Jewish men check the Lulav (Palm leaf spine), one of four species to be used during the celebration of Sukkot, the feast of the Tabernacles, in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim on September 30, 2009. The Sukkot feast commemorates the exodus of Jews from Egypt some 3200 years ago. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men inspect a 'Lulav' (Palm leaf spine) one of four species used during the celebration of Sukkoth, the feast of the Tabernacles, in Jerusalem on September 20, 2010. Sukkoth commemorates the 40 years of wandering in the desert after the exodus of Jews from Egypt some 3,200 years ago. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man holds a hadas, a myrtle branch that is one of the four items used as a symbol on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, as he examines it for blemishes to determine if it is ritually acceptable before buying it, in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or "lulav," with two other branches, along with an "etrog," they make up the "four species" used in holiday rituals. The week long holiday begins Wednesday. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • Sukkot, Market of the 4 Species at Bnei Brak

  • An ultra-Orthodox Jewish boy holds palm fronds to be used to build a Sukka in Bnei Brak, Israel, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or "lulav," with two other branches, along with an "etrog," they make up the "four species" used in holiday rituals. The week long holiday begins on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Sukkot, Market of the 4 Species at Bnei Brak

  • Sukkot, Market of the 4 Species at Bnei Brak

  • an Ultra Orthodox Jewish man uses a magnifying glass to check the Lulav (palm leaf spine), one of four plant species to be used during the celebration of Sukkot, the feast of the Tabernacles, in the Ultra Orthodox Mea Shearim neighbourhood of Jerusalem on October 12, 2008. The Sukkot feast will start tomorrow at sundown to commemorate the exodus of Jews from Egypt some 3200 years ago. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An ultra Orthodox Jewish boy stands on palms found to be used to build a Sukka in Bnei Brak, Israel,Thursday, Sept. 27, 2012. According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or "lulav," with two other branches, along with an "etrog," they make up the "four species" used in holiday rituals. The week long holiday begins on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Ultra Orthodox Jewish men check etrogs, a lemon-like citrus fruit, for blemishes to determine if they are ritually acceptable, before buying it as one of the four items used as a symbol on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in Jerusalem's Mea Shearim neighborhood, Monday, Oct. 10, 2011. According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or "lulav," with two other branches, along with an "etrog," they make up the "four species" used in holiday rituals. The week long holiday begins Wednesday. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

  • A Rabbi inspects an etrog, a lemon-like citrus fruit, for blemishes to determine if it is ritually acceptable for the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in the ultra Orthodox town of Bnei Brak near Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011. The holiday commemorates the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the desert and a decorated hut is erected outside religious households as a sign of temporary shelter. The weeklong holiday begins Wednesday.(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • Leopold Pilichowski - Examining the Lulav

    Description 1 Examining the Lulav | Source http://www. sothebys. com/de/catalogues/ecatalogue. html/2007/judaica-n08392#/r/de/ecat. ...

  • An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man and his children push a baby stroller with palm fronds to be used to build a Sukka in Bnei Brak, Israel, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012. According to the Bible, during the Sukkot holiday, known as the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jews are commanded to bind together a palm frond, or "lulav," with two other branches, along with an "etrog," they make up the "four species" used in holiday rituals. The week long holiday begins on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

  • A Jewish man holds the four species, Etrog (citron), Hadas (myrtle), Lulav (date palm frond) and the Arava (willow) as he prays during the annual Cohanim (priest's) blessing celebration of Sukkot, or the feast of the Tabernacles, at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem October 5, 2009. Thousands of Jews make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem during Sukkot, which commemorates the desert wanderings of the Israelites after their exodus from Egypt. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • JERUSALEM - OCTOBER 01: An ultra-Orthodox Jew inspects the tips of a Lulav, one of the Four Species which will be used during the rituals of the upcoming festival of Sukkot, on October 1, 2009, in the religious Jewish neighbourhood of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem, Israel. The eight-day Jewish Feast of the Tabernacles, which begins tomorrow evening October 2, 2009, commemorates the biblical Hebrews' 40 years of wandering in the desert after the exodus from Egypt some 3,200 years ago. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

  • Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men inspect a 'Lulav' (Palm leaf spine) one of four species used during the celebration of Sukkoth, the feast of the Tabernacles, in Jerusalem on September 20, 2010. Sukkoth commemorates the 40 years of wandering in the desert after the exodus of Jews from Egypt some 3,200 years ago. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish checks a 'Lulav' (Palm leaf spine) one of four species used during the celebration of Sukkoth, the feast of the Tabernacles, at a market in the southern Israeli coastal city of Ashdod on September 19, 2010. Sukkoth commemorates the 40 years of wandering in the desert after the exodus of Jews from Egypt some 3,200 years ago. (DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images)

  • An Ultra-Orthodox Jewish man inspect a 'Lulav' (Palm leaf spine) one of four species used during the celebration of Sukkoth, the feast of the Tabernacles, in Jerusalem on September 20, 2010. Sukkoth commemorates the 40 years of wandering in the desert after the exodus of Jews from Egypt some 3,200 years ago. (MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • Deutlich zu erkennen sind der de:Etrog | Etrog , eine Zitrusfrucht, sowie der de:Lulav | Lulav , der FeststrauƟ. | date 1920 | medium 1 ...