Hoshana Rabbah -  הוֹשַׁעְנָא רַבָּא

By Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)


Rain. 2

The Aravah (willow) 4

In The Alef-bet 5

Ashkenaz Customs. 6

Sefardic Customs. 7

Synagogue Customs. 7

Torah Readings. 8

Hoshana Rabbah Events. 8

Talmudic Texts. 10

Observations. 11

In The Temple. 11

Bibliography. 14


In this study I would like to examine the seventh day of Succoth, which is known as Hoshana Rabbah (הוֹשַׁעְנָא רַבָּא). This festive day falls on Tishri 21. Hoshana Rabbah means: “bring us great salvation, please”.


Hoshana Rabbah is the Hebrew name given to the last and greatest day of Hag HaSuccoth, the Feast of Tabernacles. Due to the mechanics of the calendar, Hoshana Rabbah will never fall on Shabbat. In fact, Hoshana Rabbah always falls on the same day of the week as Hag Shavuot of the previous year.


Hoshana Rabbah is the sixth Chol HaMoed[1] of Hag HaSuccoth,[2] which is the day before Shemini Atzeret. Named for the fact that more hoshanot[3] are said on this day than all the previous days of the festival.  This day marks the culmination of this incredible part of the year which began with Rosh HaShana (Yom Teruah[4]).


Although Hoshana Rabbah was not accorded any different status by the Torah than the other days of Chol HaMoed, the Jewish people have observe many customs on this day and have invested it with a solemn character. For example, the white parochet, curtain on the ark, in the Esnoga[5] remains up until after Hoshana Rabbah.


On Hoshana Rabbah afternoon we bring our vessels FROM the succah back INTO the house, in preparation for Shemini Atzeret. This may highlight the primary purpose of this Yom Tov, i.e. to move the spiritual message of the succah into our homes for the remainder of the year.


The Zohar[6] describes Hoshana Rabbah as a judgment day akin to Yom HaKippurim (Yom Kippur[7]), for on Hoshana Rabbah the parchments containing the Yom HaKippurim decrees are made final.[8] The Mystics state that whereas our fate is sealed on Yom HaKippurim, the writ containing the decision of the Court on High is only rubber-stamped on the seventh day of Succoth which is Hoshana Rabbah, the day on which we make seven circuits around the bimah with the lulav assembly. Hence, until this day, a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court may carry some weight by virtue of extenuating circumstances. Hoshana Rabbah assumes special importance as a day of prayer and repentance. On Rosh Hashanah all people were judged. The righteous were given a favorable judgment, those found wanting, but not totally evil, were given until Yom HaKippurim to repent. If they failed to do so, the verdict against them was written and sealed, but not yet ‘delivered’. That was not done until Hoshana Rabbah, a day when Jews assemble in prayer, dedication, and supplication. The joy of Succoth reaches its climax not in revelry but in devotion. In mercy, HaShem finds ample reason to tear up the parchments bearing harsher sentences, as it were, and replace them with brighter tidings. The following chart illustrates this relationship:


Rosh HaShana

Yom HaKippurim

Hoshana Rabbah

Judgment Day – The judgment is rendered.

The judgment is sealed.

The judgment is delivered.


In the Midrash, HaShem says to Avraham, “I will give your descendants a special day for forgiveness: Hoshana Rabbah. If they are not forgiven on Rosh HaShana (Yom Teruah) then let them try Yom HaKippurim; if not, then Hoshana Rabbah.”


The morning following Hoshana Rabbah is when the judgment that was delivered, begins to be manifest to the world.




The Gemara gives us a bit of insight into this day:


Rosh HaShana 1 At four periods is the world judged: at Passover, in respect to grain; on Shavuot, in regard to the fruit of trees; on Succoth, in respect to rain, and on New Year’s Day man is judged, but the sentence passed upon him is confirmed on the Day of Atonement, and our Mishna speaks of the opening of judgment only (and not the final verdict).


On Succoth the world is judged for rain. In fact, we begin praying for rain the day after Hoshana Rabbah, on Shemini Atzeret.






Rain during Succoth is a sign of HaShem’s anger.


* * *


Ta’anith 2b  R. ELIEZER SAYS: ON THE FIRST DAY OF THE FEAST etc. The question was asked, Whence did R. Eliezer derive this? Did he learn it from Lulab[15] or from the Libation of Water?[16] If he learnt it from Lulab, then just as the obligation of the use of the Lulab comes into force on the [first] day of Tabernacles, so too should we begin to make mention of rain on that day. Or perhaps he learnt it from Libation. [If so, then] just as Water Libation may be [carried out] on the evening [preceding the first day] — (for a Master [interpreting the verse], And the meal-offering thereof and their drink-offerings,[17] said, Even by night)-so too should one begin to make mention of rain on that evening![18] — Come and hear: R. Abbahu said: R. Eliezer deduced it from Lulab only. Some there are who say: R. Abbahu had a tradition. Whilst others say: He based it on a Baraitha. Which is the Baraitha? — It has been taught: ‘When do we [begin to] make mention of Rain? R. Eliezer says: From the time of the taking up of the Lulab; R. Joshua says, From the time when the Lulab is discarded.[19] Said R. Eliezer: Seeing that these Four Species are intended only to make intercession for water,[20] therefore as these cannot [grow] without water so the world [too] cannot exist without water. R. Joshua said to him: Is not rain on the Feast a sure sign of [God’s] anger? R. Eliezer replied: I too did not say to pray but to make mention. And just as one makes mention of the Revival of the Dead all the year round[21] although it will take place only in its proper time, so too should mention be made of the Power of Rain all the year round although it comes only in its due season. Therefore if one desires to make mention all the year round he may do so. Rabbi says: I hold the view that when one ceases to pray [for rain][22] one should also no longer make mention of it. R. Judah b. Bathyra says: On the second day of the Feast one [begins] to make mention. R. Akiba says: On the sixth day of the Feast. R. Judah says in the name of R. Joshua: The last to step before the Ark on the last day of the Feast makes mention, the first does not; on the first day of Passover the first makes mention, the last does not. Did not then R. Eliezer reply well to R. Joshua?- R. Joshua can answer you: It is quite in order to make mention of the Revival of the Dead [all the year round], since any day may be its time, but is rain seasonable at all times? Have we not learnt: Should Nisan terminate and then rain fall it is a sign of [God’s] anger, for it is said, Is it not wheat harvest to-day etc.?[23]


* * *


Baba Bathra 147a  Our Rabbis taught: Ahitophel advised his sons three things: Take no part[24] in strife, and do not rebel against the government of the House of David, and [if] the weather on the Festival of Pentecost is fine sow wheat[25] Mar Zutra stated: It was said, ‘cloudy’[26] The Nehardeans said in the name of R. Jacob: ‘Fine’ [does] not [mean] absolutely fine, nor does ‘cloudy’ mean completely overcast, but even [when it is] ‘cloudy’ and the north wind blows [the clouds], it is regarded as ‘fine’.[27] R. Abba said to  R. Ashi: We rely upon [the weather information] of R. Isaac b. Abdimi. For R. Isaac b. Abdimi said: [At] the termination  of[28] the last day of Tabernacles, all watched the smoke of the wood pile.[29] [If] it[30] inclined towards the north, the poor rejoiced and landowners[31] were distressed because [that[32] was an indication] that the yearly rains would be heavy[33] and the crops would decay.[34] [If] it inclined towards the south, the poor were distressed and landowners rejoiced because [that[35] was an indication] that the yearly rains would be scanty and the crops could be preserved[36] ‘ [If] it inclined towards the east, all were glad;[37] towards the west ,. all were distressed.[38] A contradiction was raised: The east [wind] is always beneficial; the west [wind] is always harmful; the north wind is beneficial for wheat that reached[39] [the stage of] a third [of its maturity].[40] and harmful for olives in blossom; and the south wind is injurious’ for wheat that reached [the stage of] a third [of maturity] . and beneficial for olives in blossom. And R. Joseph. (others say Mar Zutra and others say. R. Nahman b. Isaac), said: Your mnemonic is , ‘Table in the north and candelabra in the south;[41] the one[42] Increases Its own[43] and the other[44] increases Its own.[45] -There is no difficulty: This[46] for us,[47] and that[48] for them[49] It was taught: Abba Saul said: Fine [weather at] the Festival of Pentecost is a good sign[50] for all the year. R. Zebid said: If the first day of the New Year is warm, all’s the year will be warm; if cold, all[51] the year will be cold. Of what [religious] significance is this[52] [weather information]?


The Aravah (willow)[53]


Torah Tziva lanu Moshe

Morasha Kehillat Yaakov.”[54]

“Moses commanded us the Torah. It is an inheritance for the community of Jacob.”[55]


On Hoshana Rabbah we take the willow[56] branch, which only grows near water, as a symbol of rejuvenation and re-awakening through rain and redemption.

The Four Species of Succoth must be tied together in a bond, what the Talmud in Sukkah[57] similarly calls an ‘agudah achat.’ The palm frond, the myrtle and the willow are tied together and held in the right hand, with the etrog held in the left and with all four brought together when we make the blessing, as well as whenever we participate in the wavings during Hallel. Everyone is familiar with the classic Midrash that compares the qualities of the Four Species,[58] to the qualities of four types of Jews. The etrog is blessed with a good smell and good taste, like those Sages blessed with Torah and good deeds. The palm frond is blessed with good taste (dates) but no scent to speak of, like those Sages who have Torah but lack good deeds. The myrtle has an exquisite scent, but provides no fruit, and so too there are many Jews whose good deeds can be detected from a distance (like smell), but alas they fall short in Torah knowledge. And finally we have the willow, no taste and no smell, which is compared to the Jew who has neither Torah nor good deeds to his credit.


Y The Etrog (Citron) – is a man who is

learned in Torah (symbolized by  its good

taste) and the good smell is the good deeds

which he performs.


Y The Lulab (Palm frond) – a learned

man, but without good deeds.


Y The Hadas (myrtle) – a man of good

deeds (as in its good  smell), but not



Y The Aravah (willow) – possessing

neither smell nor taste, is a  man of neither

good deeds nor learning


And yet the moral message of the one bundle in the Talmud, and which is codified in the Shulchan Aruch,[59] is that just as the mitzva of the four species requires four different kinds of vegetation, so too we need all four different kinds of Jews, covering the entire range of people. Whoever thinks that we can ignore those Jews devoid of Torah and good deeds is wrong! Lacking the aravah, the willow branch, makes the entire bundle worthless. We haven’t fulfilled the commandment until we have all ‘four species.’


The significance of the willow branch on Hoshana Rabbah is not only that without it the other three species are in serious trouble; the truth is that the entire focus of Hoshana Rabbah is exclusively on the willow branch, and our striking it upon the earth. What is the significance of this strange thud?


Kabbalistically, the striking of the aravah against the earth symbolizes the confrontation between the ‘chesed’[60] symbolized by the aravah, which grows along the river’s edge,[61] and the earth, which symbolizes ‘din,’ strict justice, exact measures that which places limits on the water flow. Our intent is not merely to act out our prayer for rain, our desire for many willows to be able to grow. The Kabbalistic significance of this rite is our expression of the mastery of the willow over the earth, of HaShem’s loving-kindness over His strict justice ­ because only on the basis of loving-kindness will redemption arrive.  At moments like this, the ‘aravah’ or willow is the witness that can sway HaShem’s gaze. If we want HaShem’s benevolence, His only question is how have we acted toward the ‘aravot’[62] of His world, how have we treated the Jew who lacks both Torah and good deeds? It’s easy to honor a great sage or a benefactor, but how many of us know how to honor those that no one else honors, the forgotten ‘willows.’ 


Even to the Jew with no connection to the Torah, even to this one is the inheritance of the Torah! We inherit the Torah because we are of the congregation of Yaaqov!


Torah Tziva lanu Moshe

Morasha Kehillat Yaaqov.”

“Moses commanded us the Torah. It is an inheritance for the community of Jacob.”


In The Alef-bet


Five of the twenty-two letters of the Alef-beit have two forms: bent and straight. They are the letters: mem, nun, tzadi, peh, and kof. Their straight form are usually called ‘sofit’, concluding letters, because they are at the end of a word. Since these letters are in a sense restraining forces which force a halt in speaking, they are called ‘strict powers’. These letters are the ‘vessels’, within which are contained that minute portion of HaShem’s infinite being which can be conceived by finite people.[63]


According to Kabbalah, one should take five aravot and hit them five times on the ground, not on a chair or any other piece of furniture or the like. Neither should one hit them on a stone floor. One should hit them softly, since the branches must have their leaves throughout the entire performance. With each hitting one should have in mind one letter of the series of letters, “mem,” “nun,” “sadi,” “peh” and “sadi” (which alludes to HaShem’s attribute of “gevurah,” power). The first hitting corresponds to the “mem,” the second to the “nun,” and so on. The Geonim cite early sources as explaining that the aravah symbolizes the mouth, and we hit it on the floor to express our hope that all words of prosecution spoken against us shall be cast to the ground.


No blessing is recited over the beating of the aravah since it was merely a custom.


This ritual is extremely important, so much so that the Sages held that it superceeded the laws of Shabbat:


Sukkah 43b  He raised an objection against him: The rite of the lulab overrides the Sabbath on the first day,[64] and that of the willow-branch on the last day.[65] On one occasion the seventh day of the [ceremonial of the] willow-branch fell on a Sabbath, and they brought saplings of willows on the Sabbath eve and placed them in the courtyard of the Temple. The Boethusians,[66] having discovered them, took and hid them under some stones.[67] On the morrow some of the ‘amme ha-aretz[68] discovered them and removed them from under the stones, and the priests brought them in and fixed them in the sides of the altar. [The reason for hiding the willows was that] the Boethusians do not admit that the beating of the willow-branch[69] overrides the Sabbath.[70] Thus[71] we see clearly that [the performance of the willow ceremonial is] in the taking of it?[72] — This is a refutation. Then why should it[73] not override [the Sabbath]?[74] — Since with us[75] it does not override [the Sabbath][76] it does not override it with them[77] either.[78]


Ashkenaz Customs


It is traditional to wear your good clothes on Hoshana Rabbah. This is the only time Hasidim do so other than on Yom Tov or Shabbat.


Among some people, a festive meal customarily follows the morning service. The meal features Challah dipped in honey, nuts, kreplachs,[79] with meat, and carrots cut into rings (the shape being a sign of wealth). This festive meal is eaten in the succah.


People wish each other ‘pikta tava’,[80] literally “a good note”, but meaning a good writ of judgment. This is based on the Zohar:[81] “The seventh day of the festival is the close of the judgment of the world, and writs of judgment issue from the Sovereign.”


The afternoon of Hoshana Rabbah is the winding down of Hag HaSuccoth. Some people visit the succah one last time and recite the following prayer: “May it be that we merit to dwell in the succah made of Leviathan”:


Baba Bathra 75a  Rabbah in the name of R. Johanan further stated: The Holy One, blessed be He, will in time to come make a tabernacle for the righteous from the skin of Leviathan; for it is said: Canst thou fill tabernacles with his skin. If a man is worthy, a tabernacle is made for him; if he is not worthy [of this] a [mere] covering is made for him, for it is said: And his head with a fish covering. If a man is [sufficiently] worthy a covering[82] is made for him; if he is not worthy [even of this], a necklace is made for him, for it is said: And necklaces about thy neck.[83] If he is worthy [of it] a necklace is made for him; if he is not worthy [even of this] an amulet is made for him; as it is said: And thou wilt bind him for thy maidens.[84] The rest [of Leviathan] will be spread by the Holy One, blessed be He, upon the walls of Jerusalem, and its splendour will shine from one end of the world to the other; as it is said: And nations shall walk at thy light, and kings at the brightness of thy rising.[85]


The Ashkenazic custom is to wear tefillin because some work is permitted.


In Ashkenazic communities, there are some minor variations in the prayers for this day. During the chazan’s repetition of Musaf, the complete Kedushah is recited instead of the abbreviated version recited on chol hamoed.


Sefardic Customs


The last night of Succoth is Leil Hoshana Rabbah. The period  which commenced on Rosh Chodesh Elul, of Selihoth and supplications  for forgiveness, reaches its end on this day with a final scaling of our  judgement. On this night the men stay up reading the entire book of  Devarim (Deuteronomy) and, time-permitting, various other prescribed readings[86], including the “Zohar - book of splendor”.  


In Sephardic countries, those mourning a loved one bring grapes and cake to those who are studying. This is served with sweet coffee and cinnamon tea.


In most Sephardic communities, there is no difference between the text of the prayers on Hoshana Rabbah and the other days of chol hamoed.


The Sephardic custom is not to wear tefillin because the Chol HaMoed retain some of the special characteristics of the full festival days, during which tefillin are not worn.


Synagogue Customs


Various customs have arisen owing to the day’s status as a time of Divine Judgment.


  1. Extra lights are lit in the synagogue.
  2. It is customary to remain awake and spend the entire night of Hoshana Rabbah reading from the Torah and Tehillim (Psalms). The particular order to be followed is printed in a special volume called Tikkun Leil Hoshana Rabbah.
  3. In some congregations, Mishneh Torah, i.e. the entire book of Deuteronomy, is read from a Torah scroll. No blessing is recited over this reading.
  4. In some congregations, the entire Book of  Tehillim, the book of Psalms, is recited communally. A gartl[87] is worn for the reading of the entire Book of Tehillim after midnight on Hoshana Rabbah. This reading is customarily not lengthy.
  5. At the completion of each of the [five] books of the Book of Tehillim,[88] one reads the brief prayer (beginning Yehi Ratzon)[89] which is read on Hoshana Rabbah, as well as the similar prayer which is read after the moon has risen,[90] but not the prayer[91] which is said on Yom Tov.[92]
  6. On [the morning of] Hoshana Rabbah, before Hallel[93], one removes the two upper rings that are bound around the lulav alone, leaving only the three rings which join it with the hadassim and the aravot.


During Each day of Hag HaSuccoth, the Feast of Tabernacles, we circle the bimah with the lulav and etrog while reciting the hashana prayers. On Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Hag HaSuccoth, we circle the bimah seven times. As we mentioned earlier, we also beat the willow branches at the end of the shacharit service.


These processions commemorate similar processions around the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. The processions are known as Hoshanot, because while the procession is made, we recite a prayer with the refrain, “Hoshana!”.[94] On the seventh day of Succoth, seven circuits are made. For this reason, the seventh day of Succoth is known as Hoshanah Rabbah.[95]


The hoshanot[96] are performed like those of the other days of Hag HaSuccoth except that many or all of the Torah scrolls are removed from the ark. One tradition is to take out seven Torah scrolls and return one to the ark with each circuit. Another custom is to carry a separate bunch of willows that will be beaten on the floor. A less common practice is the blowing of the shofar at the end of each circuit.


In keeping with the penitential undertone of the day, in some synagogues the leader of the service wears a kittel as on Rosh Hashana and Yom HaKippurim. The service itself differs in that the psalms said only on Shabbat and Yom Tov are added by the Ashkenazim to the introductory portion of the service. Also, the melodies of Yom Tov are used for parts of the service.


Torah Readings


Hoshana Rabbah – The Day of the Great Hoshana


Numbers 29:26-34

Nazarean Codicil:

Matityahu 21:1-9


Torah Reading:          

Reader 1 – Bemidbar 29:26-28

Reader 2 – Bemidbar 29:29-31

Reader 3 – Bemidbar 29:32-34

Reader 4 – Bemidbar 29:29-34


Hoshana Rabbah Events


The following events occurred on Hoshana Rabbah:


Hoshanah Rabbah - the Great Salvation. The last and greatest  day of the feast.[97]


A burnt offering of seven young bulls, two rams and fourteen male lambs a year old, all without defect.  Bamidbar (Numbers) 29:32


Ritual of the water libation is performed. day 7. Sukkah 42b


Zerubbabel is strengthened and told that a future temple would be greater than Solomon’s temple.  Haggai 2:1-9


Yeshua invites the thirsty to drink living water. Note the “last and greatest day” in Yochanan (John) 7:37.  


John 7:1-44 After this, Yeshua went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Yeshua’s brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him. Therefore Yeshua told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.” Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the Feast the Jews were watching for him and asking, “Where is that man?” Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews. Not until halfway through the Feast did Yeshua go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?” Yeshua answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him. Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” Yeshua said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Mashiach? But we know where this man is from; when the Mashiach comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Yeshua, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, But I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Mashiach comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?” The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. Yeshua said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?” On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Yeshua stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Yeshua had not yet been glorified. On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Mashiach.” Still others asked, “How can the Mashiach come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Mashiach will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Yeshua. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.


Yeshua is the light of the world.  Yochanan (John) 8:12


Talmudic Texts


Shabbath 22a  R. Joshua b. Levi was asked: Is it permitted to make use of the booth decorations during the whole of the seven days?[98] He answered him [the questioner], Behold! it was said, One must not count money by the Hanukkah light.[99] God of Abraham! exclaimed R. Joseph, he makes that which was taught dependent upon what was not taught: [of] booths it was taught, whereas of Hanukkah it was not. For it was taught: if one roofs it [the booth] in accordance with its requirements, beautifies it with hangings and sheets, and suspends therein nuts, peaches, almonds, pomegranates, grape clusters, garlands of ears of corn, wines, oils and flours; he may not use them until the conclusion of the last day of the Feast; yet if he stipulates concerning then,[100] it is all according to his stipulation. — Rather, said R. Joseph: The basis[101] of all is [the law relating to] blood.[102]


* * *


Shabbath 45a  Resh Lakish asked R. Johanan: What of wheat sown in the earth or eggs under a fowl?[103] When does R. Simeon reflect [the prohibition of] mukzeh? Where one has not rejected it [an object] with his [own] hands; but where one rejects it with his own hands,[104] he accepts [the interdict of] mukzeh: or perhaps there is no difference? — He answered him: R. Simeon accepts mukzeh only in respect of the oil in the [Sabbath] lamp while it is burning: since it was set apart for its precept,[105] and set apart on account of its prohibition.[106] But does he not [accept it where] it [only] was set apart for its precept?[107] Surely it was taught: If one roofs it [the booth] in accordance with its requirements, beautifies it with hangings and sheets, and suspends therein nuts, peaches, almonds, pomegranates, grape clusters, garlands of ears of corn, wines, oil, and flours, he may not use them until the conclusion of the last Festival day of the Feast; yet if he stipulates concerning them, it is all according to his stipulation.[108] And how do you know that this is R. Simeon’s view? Because R. Hiyya b. Joseph recited before R. Johanan: Wood must not be taken from a hut on a Festival,[109] save from what is near it;[110] but R. Simeon permits it.[111] Yet both agree in respect to the sukkah of the Festival[112] that it is forbidden on the Festival;[113] yet if he [the owner) stipulated concerning it, it all depends on his stipulation![114] — We mean, similar to the oil in the lamp: since it was set apart for its precept, it was set apart for its interdict.[115] It was stated likewise: R. Hiyya b. Abba said in R. Johanan’s name: R. Simeon rejects mukzeh save in a case similar to the oil in the lamp while it is burning: since it was set apart for its precept, it was set apart for its interdict.

* * *




* * *


Sukkah 55b  R. Eleazar[120] stated, To what do those seventy bullocks[121] [that were offered during the seven days of the Festival] correspond? To the seventy nations.[122] To what does the single bullock [of the Eighth Day] correspond? To the unique nation.[123] This may be compared to a mortal king who said to his servants, ‘Prepare for me a great banquet’; but on the last day he said to his beloved friend, ‘Prepare for me a simple meal that I may derive benefit from you’.




On Hoshana Rabba be make 7 hakafot around the Teba carrying the arba manim – the lulav and etrog. The Sefardi prayers speak of our salvation at this time.


The Hallel prayer, on Hoshana Rabba, includes the waving of the lulav. However, on the seventh day of Passover, six months earlier, has only a partial Hallel. When we put these two together we see a picture which suggests that Hoshana Rabba is the culmination of the salvation which began on the seventh day of Passover. The salvation we gained on the seventh day of Passover iks incomplete until we experience the atonement and joy of the fall festivals.


Hoshana Rabbah 5766 has just begun as I finish my study of Hoshana Rabbah. There is a category 2 hurricane dumping immense amounts of water on southern Florida, and a record breaking tropical storm Alpha dumping rain on Haiti. The Jews in Florida are surely having a difficult time with the mitzva of succah this year as there is already nearly 18 inches of flood waters in parts of Florida.


In The Temple


Simhat Bet Ha-Sho’eivah

Simchat Bais HaShoeva


Simchat Bet Hashoeva is celebrated every night of Succoth. On Hoshana Rabbah, however, the joy of the celebration must be infinitely greater, as emphasized in its very name, “the Great Hoshana.” Likewise, additional prayers are said on this day.


The performances and activities were led by the greatest Sages and the most venerable tzadikim. The simcha of Beit Hashoeva - literally the place of drawing water, is described in the Gemara[124] as being unprecedented and unparalleled, anywhere and anytime. “He who has not seen the Simchat Beit Hashoeva has never in his life seen simcha[125]!” The Talmud Yerushalmi[126] goes further to say that that the word shoeva - drawing - refers not only to the water that was drawn, but to the Ruach Hakodesh[127] that was available to be drawn from that most exquisitely inspiring and spiritually stirring simcha. The Gemara elaborates this in great detail.


* * *


Nisan is Like Tishri


Tekufah of Nisan (Vernal Equinox) Nisan – The First Month Ripening of grain



New Year for counting months.


The pur is cast.


The Mishkan and Temple start operating.



Sacrifice (Passover lamb) is selected.


Israelites enter the promised land.


Abraham and household are circumcised


Physical freedom begins.


Judgment of the firstborn.


Shabbat HaGadol – the Great Sabbath. We examine a lamb for blemishes.



Festival Sabbath


HaShem’s people enter protective abode.


Passover Seder.


Messiah dies.


Israel must eat matza.


Lulav is burned with bedikat chametz





Read Shir HaShirim and Shemot 33:12 – 34:26 on the weekly Sabbath during Pesach







7th day of Pesach

Festival Sabbath


We read the judgement of Egypt at the Yam Suf.



Iyar 18


Lag B’Omer

Sivan 6


Festival Sabbath


Shavuot  Atzeret


Torah was given

Large loaves waved.


Pilgrimage festival.


Read the book of Ruth


No distinctive practice for the people.



Feast of Matza – the bread of affliction.


Israelites begin living in Succoth while traveling.


Pilgrimage festival.


First harvest (barley). Barley is waved.


Israel may eat only unleavened food.

Tekufah of Tishri (Autumn Equinox) Tishri – The Seventh Month Ripening of grapes and olives



Festival Sabbath


Yom Teruah.


New Year for counting years.


Judgment day.


Messiah, our Temple, comes!



Festival Sabbath


Yom HaKippurim


Sacrifice is (two goats) selected.


We return to the state we enjoyed in Eden.


Adam was circumcised when created.


Total Jubilee freedom begins.


Neilah – judgment complete.


On The Sabbath before Yom HaKippurim Shabbat Shuvah ("Sabbath of Repentance")



Festival Sabbath


HaShem’s people enter protective abode.


Messiah is born.


Israel must live in Succah





Read the book of Kohelet and Shemot 33:12 – 34:26 on the weekly Sabbath during Succoth.





Hoshana Rabbah – The final judgement.






Festival Sabbath


Shemini Atzeret


Simchat Torah

Reading of Torah is concluded and started again.


Torah scrolls are waved.


No distinctive practice.


The feast of our JOY!


HaShem’s people live in Succoth for seven days at rest.


It is a mitzvah to feast in the Succah.


Pilgrimage festival.


Final harvest. Lulav and etrog are waved.


The world is judged for water


Israel must eat all of their meals in the Succah.






The folowing table illustrates the symmetry of the months:


Ohr Yashar

(Straight light)


Ohr Chozer

(Curved light)



  Shabbat HaChodesh

  Fast of the firstborn

   (out of place)

  Shabbat HaGadol


  Pesach 7th day


  Rosh HaShana

  Fast of Gedalia


 Yom Kippurim


  Hoshana Rabba

  Shemini Atzeret


Pesach Sheni (2nd chance for Pesach) 

Lag B’Omer



  Shavuot (atzeret)


  Shemini Atzeret (Moved because of rain)

  Chanukah (2nd chance for Succoth – moved because of war.)


  Fast of Tammuz 17


  Fast of Tevet 10


  Tisha B’Av



 Tu B’Av


Severe famine in jerusalem before the destruction of the First Temple. Jeremiah 32:9

Tu B’Shevat



25th of Elul, Adam was created.

Tu B’Ab is forty days earlier.



25th of Adar, Adam was conceived.

Tu ’Shebat is forty days earlier.


* * *




“The Complete ArtScroll Machzor – Succos“, Mesorah Publications.


The Jewish Holidays, A Guide and Commentary, by Michael Strassfeld.


Gateway to Judaism: The What, How, and Why of Jewish Life, by Mordechai Becher.



* * *


This study was written by

Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David

(Greg Killian).

Comments may be submitted to:


Rabbi Dr. Greg Killian

4544 Highline Drive SE

Olympia, WA 98501


Internet address: gkilli@aol.com

Web page: http://www.betemunah.org/


(360) 918-2905


Return to The WATCHMAN home page

Send comments to Greg Killian at his email address: gkilli@aol.com

[1] Intermediate day.

[2] It is the fifth intermediate day outside the land of Israel.

[3] Hoshanot is the plural of hoshana.

[4] The Feast of Trumpets is commonly known in Hebrew as Rosh Hashanah. The Torah calls this feast Yom Teruah. There are several other names given to this feast, but these are the most common.

[5] Ladino: אסנוגה – the synagogue.

[6] Zohar Tzav 31b.

[7] The Day of Atonement is commonly known as Yom Kippur, is called in Torah: Yom HaKippurim (plural). The singular never occurrs in Scripture.

[8] This paragraph is an excerpt from the ArtScroll Machzor for Succos, page 645.

[9] The term ‘power of Rain’ is applied to the phrase ‘He causeth the wind to blow and the rain to fall’ inserted in the second benediction of the prayer known as ‘the Eighteen Benedictions’ — The Tefillah (v. Glos.) On the expression POWER OF RAIN v. infra.

[10] The Feast, djv, the name by which the festival of Tabernacles is referred to in Mishnah and Talmud. Cf. I Kings 8:2, 65; Neh. 8:14, 15.

[11] Lit., curse , v. Suk. 28b.

[12]  I.e., to insert in the ninth benediction the words, ‘Give dew and rain for a blessing upon the face of the earth’.

[13] V. n. 1.

[14] To step before the Ark (tebah), a technical term denoting the recitation of the tefillah or the Amidah by the reader. V. R.H., Sonc. ed. p. 160, n. 9.

[15] The Palm-branch. Term applied to the Four Plants used in the service on Tabernacles. Cf. Lev. XXIII, 40.

[16] [The vessel for the Water Libation was filled the preceding evening, v. Suk. 51 b. Aliter: The drink-offerings of wine brought in conjunction with animal sacrifices could be offered on the evening following the animal sacrifice, v. p. 4, n.1.]

[17] BaMidbar (Numbers) 29:18.

[18]  [On this first interpretation of Rashi this verse is irrelevant and is to be omitted, v. Rashi. On the second interpretation the argument will run as follows: Should R. Eliezer deduce his opinion from the Water Libation, the mention of rain would have to be mentioned in the evening, seeing that the evening is a time at which drink-offerings (of wine) may be offered. Once, however, it is granted that the mention of rain starts on the evening, it will have to be the preceding, so as to be on the same day as the Water Libation (the night always being counted with the following day). V. Tosaf, s.v. thgcht. On this interpretation the text should read as ‘Libation (not ‘Water Libation’) may be on the evening’, v. Me’iri a.I. where also other interpretations of this difficult passage are given.]

[19] On the seventh day of the Feast.

[20] V. Suk. 37b.

[21] In the second benediction.

[22] On the first day of Passover.

[23] I Samuel 12:17.

[24] Lit., ‘be not ‘

[25] Fine weather at that season is an indication of a good wheat harvest for that year.

[26] I.e. , cloudy weather at Pentecost is an indication of a good harvest for that year. Cloudy, Heb. balul, kukc,, is easily interchangeable with barrur, rurc, clear.

[27] And the wheat harvest of that year will be successful.

[28] Lit,’exit’.

[29] On the Temple altar.

[30] The column of smoke.

[31] Lit., masters of houses’.

[32] The prevalence of the South wind which caused the column of smoke to incline towards the North.

[33] Lit., ‘many’

[34] And as they could not be stored away for long. prices would fall.

[35] The north wind. Cf. p’ 635 ,n.18 i

[36] Consequently prices would rise.

[37] The west wind by which it was driven would cause a moderate rainfall and plentiful crops.

[38] The east wind by which it was driven towards the north would cause a scanty rainfall and meagre crops; and prices would consequently rise.

[39] Lit.. ‘when they brought’.

[40] When it requires no more rain.

[41]  In the Temple.

[42] The north where stood the table on which was placed the shewbread.

[43] Crops of wheat which are required for the shewbread.

[44] The south where stood the candelabra, for the lighting of which olive oil was used. is beneficial to olives.

[45] At any rate, it has been stated in this Baraitha that ‘the east wind is always beneficial and the west wind is always harmful’, how, then, was the reverse stated in the previous Baraitha, reported by R. Isaac b. Abdimi? (V., notes 5 and 6).

[46] The latter Baraitha which states that the east wind is beneficial and the west wind harmful.

[47] Refers to Babylon which is situated in a valley and has an abundance of water. A heavy yearly rainfall, there, is harmful; a light one beneficial.

[48] The first Baraitha.

[49] Palestine, which is a dry highland country. There the west wind with its heavy rains is beneficial while the dry east wind is harmful.

[50] V. supra p. 635. n. 11

[51] I.e., ‘most of it’ (Rashb.).

[52] Lit., ‘as to what comes out of it’.

[53] This section is an excerpt from the “Shabbat Shalom” column by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.

[54] "Our Rabbis taught, when a child begins to speak, his father must teach him Torah and Keriat Shema. What is Torah? Rav Hamnuna says: Torah Tziva lanu Moshe Morasha Kehillat Yaakov" (Talmud Sukka 42a).

[55] Devarim (Deuteronomy) 33:4.

[56]  Hebrew: arava.

[57] Sukkah 34b.

[58] Taste and smell.

[59] Orach Chaim, Section 651

[60] loving-kindness

[61] Water is the consummate symbol of loving-kindness.

[62] the willow branches.

[63] Tanya 2:4

[64] Lit., ‘at its beginning’.

[65] Lit., ‘at its end’.

[66] A sect closely related to the Sadducees. Tradition traces their origin to Boethus a pupil of Antigonus of Soko. More probably followers of Boethus or Simeon b. Boethus who was made High Priest by Herod in 25 B.C.E. V. J.E. III, p. 285.

[67] The Boethusians, knowing that the Pharisees would not remove the stones on the Sabbath, hoped thereby effectively to prevent a ceremony in which they did not believe.

[68] Who are unacquainted with the Sabbath laws.

[69] The willow-branch, according to Rabbinic law, was beaten on the ground. Cf. Mishnah infra 45a.

[70] Tosef. Suk. III.

[71] Since the willow-branch had to be beaten.

[72] Not merely in fixing it to the altar.

[73] The taking of the willow on the seventh day of the Festival.

[74] In Palestine, where they know when the New Moon was fixed.

[75] In Babylon and all other countries outside Palestine.

[76] On account of our ignorance of the day when the New Moon was fixed.

[77] The Palestinians.

[78] In order that no distinctions be made between one country and another.

[79] Symbolizing the covering of severity with loving-kindness.

[80] Aramaic

[81] Tsav 31b

[82] Isa. XXIII, 8. (18) Job XL, 31.

[83] Prov. I, 9.

[84] Job XL. 29. Bind, refers to a small object, such as an amulet, which one attaches (binds) to a string.

[85]  Isa. LX, 3.

[86] From the Ben Ish Chai

[87] A Torah Belt.

[88] Corresponding to the five books of the Torah.

[89] Tehillim Ohel Yosef Yitzchak, pp. 181-2

[90] Ibid., p. 185. Cf. Kaf HaChayim 664:3-4, citing Pri Etz Chayim

[91] Ibid., p. 181

[92] Sichah of the Previous Rebbe, Hoshana Rabbah and Shemini Atzeres 5708

[93] This differs from the sequence implied by Siddur Yaavetz

[94] Bring salvation, please!

[95] The great day of salvation.

[96] Plural of hoshana.

[97] Gateway to Judaism Pg.342

[98] The booths which were erected for the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. XXIII, 42) were adorned with fruit suspended from the roofs.

[99] Being dedicated to a religious observance, it must not be put to secular use. The same applies here.

[100] the prohibition is regarded as coming into force at twilight of the first day when they become dedicated to their religious purpose. The stipulation  whereby the prohibition is lifted is: ‘I will not hold aloof from them throughout the period of twilight’, so that it does not become dedicated them,

[101] Lit. ‘the father’.

[102] As stated above: things taken for religious purposes must not be treated slightingly.

[103] May they be removed on the Sabbath for use, before the wheat has taken root or the egg become addled?

[104] As here. When one sows wheat in the soil or places an egg under a fowl, he rejects it for the time being.

[105]  I.e., for the Sabbath lamp.

[106] Sc. the prohibition of extinguishing a light on the Sabbath renders this oil inaccessible while the lamp is burning. The text follows an old Tosaf. (v. Marginal gloss). Curr. edd.: since it was set apart for its precept, it was set apart (i.e., rendered mukzeh and forbidden) for its interdict. But the general context shows that the amended version is preferable.

[107] Viz., that that alone suffices to render it forbidden.

[108] V. supra 22a for notes. Thus we see that mere setting apart for the fulfilment of a precept casts an interdict.

[109] The reference is not to a sukkah (q.v. Glos.) but to an ordinary booth or hut. Even if it collapses during a Festival, one must not take the timber for use, because had it not collapsed it might not be pulled down on the Festival, and this renders it mukzeh.

[110] Or, supporting it. If a bundle of wood was laid against the wall of the hut, in a measure serving as a support, it may be used on the Festival, because that must have been the owner’s intention before the Festival, and so it is not mukzeh. Again, its removal will not cause the hut to collapse.

[111] Because he rejects the prohibition of mukzeh,

[112] ‘The Festival’ without a determinant always means Tabernacles.

[113] if the sukkah collapses, its wood must not be used during the whole seven days of the Festival, as it had been set aside for the precept.

[114] Thus we see that the previous Baraitha does agree with R. Simeon!

[115] When they are spread out to dry they cease to be fit for food until fully dried. Hence they are certainly rejected as food, and so even R. Simeon admits the prohibition.

[116] On the seventh day.

[117] Since he must still use it for learning, sleeping or any occasional meal on that day.

[118] From the Sukkah into the house where he is to have his meals in the evening and the following day.

[119] For the rejoicings of which the house has to be prepared.

[120] Cur. edd. in parenthesis, ‘Eliezer’.

[121] Cf. prev. n. but one.

[122] Seventy is the traditional number of Gentile nations, and the seventy bullocks are offered to make atonement for them.

[123] Israel.

[125] Simcha = Joy.

[127] Holy Spirit