Hoshana Rabba – The Final Seal?


Have you ever wondered why our sages teach us that the final seal on our judgment for the year is on Hashana Rabba? It certainly doesn’t seem like that when we pray with all our might at Neila on Yom Kippur – Neila in fact means the locking of the gates, the final seal. So, what is Hoshana Rabba all about? Why do we have until today to do tashlich and take care of any last threads of teshuva and spiritual repair? Why do today we pray so fervently and wish our loved ones a “good kvittel” – lit. “a good letter”?

Hoshana Rabba is the final day of Sukkot, the festival when we are judged for rain. We pray that the channels of water should open in shamayim and its abundance should start to descend into the vessels we have created during the past 21 days. In that sense, whatever cosmic changes we have made in the spiritual spheres we only start to experience once they reach us, much like one can only read a letter that is in one’s hands – not as it is being written or sealed by the sender. (On Rosh Hashana – the letter is written. On Yom kippur, it is sealed. And today on Hashana Rabba it is dispatched – may it be for good with Hashem’s abundant mercy.)

This, however, only happens through the power of prayer. Just like the first man in Gad Eden, the bounty and produce was positioned just beneath the surface waiting to burst through to visibility only when Adam prayed for it, our new year and its bounty is just “above” the surface of Heaven, so to speak, waiting for us to elicit its dispatch through prayer. (R’ Moshe Shapiro)

Rain is a channel, a passage way from above to below. The Hebrew word for blessing, ברכה, etymologically shares its meaning with the word בריכה, “pool”. The blessings Hashem wants to give us have collected so to speak Above and by the creation of a channel, they will begin their descent.

תשע”ט = ת”ש עין טובה! May it be a year that Hashem has a good Eye for us, that we have a good Eye for ourselves, for others and for the year to come.

Wishing you a good kvittel and bountiful, nurturing showers of blessing.