Monday, October 20, 2008

Hoshana Rabba

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Big day in Jerusalem today! The seventh day of Sukkot is called Hoshana Rabba.
So three friends and I took the early bus to town and got to the Western Wall early, before the tourists woke up. Only the devout worshippers were at the Wall.


Just inside the Old City wall's Dung Gate, the separation started. The sign says "Men's section//Women's section."
This walkway leads to the security checkpoint: your bag is searched and you walk through a metal detector.


We were well protected.  See all the men in uniform? 



Hoshanah Rabbah is also know as "the day of the beating of the arava [willow branches]."
As you see, several men were selling them.


Almost 2,000 years ago the Mishnah (the first part of the Talmud) said, in tractate Sukkah 4:2,
 "How was the mitzvah of aravah fulfilled? There was a place below Jerusalem called Motza. They would go down there and pick branches of willows and would then come and place them alongside the altar with the heads (of the willow branches) bent over the altar. They then sounded the shofar . . . . Each day they would circle the altar once and say, 'Ana Hashem hoshiah na (Please, God, bring us salvation), Ana Hashem hatzlichah na (Please, God, bring us success)' . . . . On that day [Hoshana Rabbah] they circled the altar seven times. When they had finished they would say, "Beauty is yours, O altar, beauty is yours."


And till today, the men still circle the Torah scrolls seven times, holding the Four Species. The man shown above holds the etrog, myrtle, willow, and palm together, near the heart.


The man in the center is doing the shaking of the lulav left, right, forward, backward, up, and down, to show that God is present everywhere.


See the aravah or willows the men have thrown on top of the holy ark where the Torah is? 
Just like the Talmud said to do!


And we heard the call of the shofar!


The male-female divider was thankfully moved a bit more to the left today, to give women more room near the Wall.



The Four Species are often transported in a transparent, flexible plastic carrying case. I think a white stick is included in the set to prevent too much bending. 
These boys were having a sword fight with those sticks.


A little boy was playing at beating a willow on the ground.
Prayers for water and divine blessing throughout the year are very fervently said today.
It is said that during the Festival of Sukkot, the entire world is judged concerning water, fruit, and produce. The seventh day of the Festival, Hoshana Rabbah, is the day on which this judgment is sealed.
At the end of the prayers, in an ancient rite of deep mystical significance, five willows bound together are beaten five times on the ground, symbolically "sweetening" God's judgment.
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A new weekly bloggers' meme, "That's My World Tuesday," starts today, conceived by the folks who brought you SkyWatch Friday. Have a look at MyWorld to enjoy guided mini-tours.

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27 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful communion with the past.
Yes the messiah is the wind in the willow.

shalom

Raphaellae
lesabstractions.blogspot.com

Katney said...

Thanks once again for your clear exposition of the customs of the day.

Rambling Woods said...

Very interesting..separate places for men and woman always bothers me, but it is the way it is. Thank you for the words to say to Uncle Solly.

Louis la Vache said...

Dina - thank you for sharing this with us. "Louis" found it to be most interesting.

Petrea said...

What a journey for us today. This is a close-up treat I've never seen before. Dina, you took us right inside. I am wowed. Thank you for each and every one of these photos and, as always, for your descriptive commentary. Jeez Louise, as my husband would say, that's just so great.

evlahos said...

this is very interesting

Kay said...

This is such a beautiful tradition. I'm so glad you had a beautiful day for it.

USelaine said...

Yes, I share the gratitude for this journey with you. Wonderful photos for the story.

GMG said...

Hi Dina! Interesting post; learned a lot today!
Meanwhile, Blogtrotter has a Rhapsody in Blue post!! Not many words, just the rhapsody! Enjoy!

fishing guy said...

Dina: What a wonderful tour and the best photos of the Holy Land that you have ever shown. You really outdid your self today. This was a really neat story and a wonderful beginning for My World, welcome aboard.

Webradio said...

Always Thank You Dina for the lesson of history and religion of Your country...

And You have nice photos...

I print Your text...

Lily Hydrangea said...

Interesting post. I have always admired the traditions of your faith.

AphotoAday said...

Your last sentence -- about doing all of this "to sweeten God's judgement", sort of took me by surprise...
Not to make light of your religion, but hey, I'm in so much trouble with God that it would probably take a lot more than sweetness to get me anywhere near Heaven...

Luiz Ramos said...

Beautiful report and your World.
Thanks for share.
Luiz Ramos

Louise said...

I've been away and have not kept up with your blog (or anyone's blog). But it is still the same. So full of extremely interesting information and wonderful photos to go with it!

kaybee said...

So lovely to 'see' into these traditions more clearly, through your photos and explanations. Isn't it amazing that these traditions have endured for over 2000 years?! These days, whenever I post a blog, I print it off, putting them all in a binder for the future, for my family. I was thinking you should do the same!

Sailor Girl said...

Congratulations for this wonderful post!!!

kjpweb said...

Superb! Your blog is a role model for MyWorld and actually part of the inspiration to create this meme! :)
Thank you!
Cheers, Klaus

Arija said...

Great post, exactly the sort of insight int your world I was hoping to get.

Anita said...

So beautiful... Jerusalem is STILL #1 on my "places I want to visit" list!

Prairie Visions

Pat - An Arkansas Stamper said...

Fascinating post and photos, Dina. Thank you.

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

Very interesting. It is fun to learn about different parts of the world and different cultures. Wonderful pictures from your corner of the world.

Webradio said...

Thank You for the good explain, with nice photos, also...
Ver interesting post...
I print, translate and send to my brother...

Lilli & Nevada said...

oh wow what a great lesson i got here, so very interesting. Thanks for sharing

Leora said...

Dina, I have fun memories of wakking aravot as a kid against a bench. Now, that is NOT what Hoshana Rabba is supposed to be about, but your post gave me a smile, remembering enjoying the permission to wak (is that a word?).

tikno said...

Wonderful photos. I feel the sense of religious and cultural inside those photos. Jerusalem is one of the most historical city.
Greetings from me, blogger from Indonesia.

Tania said...

Interesting. A very informative post with great pictures