Thursday, October 8, 2009

What is the Meaning of Hoshanah Rabbah?

Since I have already established that it is מותר to blog on Chol haMoed, I am prepared to contribute a Chassidic thought about Hoshanah Rabbah. I recently learned a piece by Reb Tzadok where he discusses the significance of Hoshanah Rabbah in relationship to the sefirot.

I have not had a chance to fully discuss the sefirot yet, but you can say that they represent seven different ways that HaShem connects to the world. We can describe HaShem in terms of Chesed, Gevurah (restraint), and Tiferet (balance). For example, Avraham represents Chesed because he exemplified generosity towards others. Yitzchak represents Gevurah because of his experience at the Akeidah. The seventh and final sefirah is Malchut which is represented by David HaMelech. Malchut can be explained as the actualization of theoretical plans. If you wanted to connect to the sefirah of Chesed, later you might also focus on Malchut in order to emphasize Chesed in our world.

All of this is background information for Reb Tzadok's commentary on Hoshanah Rabbah. He says that Hoshanah Rabbah is the seventh day of Sukkot and represents the culmination of all of our prayers on Sukkot. We perform seven הקפות on Hoshanah Rabbah - one הקפה for each of the seven sefirot. The seventh day of Sukkot is represented by the Ushpizin David HaMelech (you can read more about Ushpizin here) and the sefirah of Malchut. According to Reb Tzadok, Hoshanah Rabbah is the culmination of our teshuvah efforts of Elul and Tishrei. During Hoshanah Rabbah, we should focus on the sefirah of Malchut and on making permanent changes in this world.

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