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Hoshana Rabbah

Hoshana Rabbah

The Final Judgement: The Day's Dimension According to Our Masters' Writings

Published on Sunday November 28th, 2021

The outstanding dimension of the day of judgement is highlighted in Midrash Tehilim:"On Rosh Hashanah, all creatures –Jews and non-Jews alike, march like a flock of sheep to be judged by Hashem, the chief Shepherd, who examines his herd, one by one.

The angels representing the nations of the world exclaim: "We came out acquitted of divine judgement!" But nobody knows whether the nations of the world or the Jewish People passed judgement favorably.

On the first day of Sukkot, when Jews, young and old, hold the Lulav in their right hand and the Etrog in their left hand, it becomes clear to everyone that the Jewish people have been acquitted, because these mitzvot are like a trophy, symbolizing success.

And when the day of Hoshana Rabbah is upon them, the Jews seize the branches of the Arava, and circle the platform seven times as they read the Torah. The officiant embraces a Sefer Torah in his arms, like an angel and the congregants walk in circles around him, just like the priests circled the Altar of the Temple ...

At that moment, the rejoicing angels exclaim: "The Jews have won! The Jews have won! "

2. The Jerusalem Talmud describes the day of Hoshana Rabbah as an auspicious day for prayer, thus interpreting the verse (Isaiah 58,2):

"For day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways…" This is related to the sound of the blowing of the Shofar and the mitzvah of the Arava when the Jews get together in the synagogue at Hoshana Rabbah.

3. The book of the Zohar allegorically describes an additional dimension related to Hoshana Rabbah, as the day when the decision made by the Heavenly Court is confirmed:

"During the last night of the festivities, the messengers leave the Royal Palace. "On the 7th day of the festival, when the final verdict is announced, messengers depart from the royal palace".

Another extract from the Zohar:

"... up until the last day of the festival, precisely on the eighth day, if a man has made perfect Teshuva before his Creator, his bad decrees are annulled. Otherwise, the verdict will be passed on and the sentence will be executed ... ". It appears from this excerpt that the court orders do not "depart" until the beginning of the 8th day, that is, on the evening of Shemini Atzeret. However, it is possible to modify the judgement's decree during the entire day of Hoshana Rabbah.

4. The Sages known as "Gueonim" (from the 7th century) considered the day of Hoshana Rabbah as the continuity of the days of the month of Elul, which were entirely dedicated to repentance and good deeds.

Rabbi HaGaon made a yearly pilgrimage from Babel to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and carried out the "Hakafot" (ritual circling of the bimah) seven times in a row, followed by a large crowd. When asked why he walked alone feeling so overjoyed, he replied that he was accompanied by the prophet Elijah! This is how the older generations experienced and marked this special day whose dimension is unfathomable. 

5. Some prayer rituals designate the day of Hoshana Rabbah as the day when the divine "signature" is sealed (as opposed to Yom Kippur):

"On Rosh Hashanah, they are judged, on Yom Kippur, they are inscribed and on Hoshana Rabbah, the final signature seal will be affixed".

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