Sponsored by Rabbi and Mrs. Daniel Kahane in honor of their son Jacob. May he have a Refuah Sheleimah.
- On the night of Hoshana Rabba, it is customary to stay up all night and study Torah. This is reminiscent of David HaMelech (King David), the guest (ushpizin) of Hoshana Rabbah, who would stay up all night studying Torah and singing praises to the Al-mighty.
- The widespread custom is to read the entire book of Devarim (most read it from a Chumash while some read it from a Sefer Torah). This symbolizes the reading of this book by the Jewish king on Chol HaMo’ed Sukkot every seven years, in fulfillment of the mitzvah of Hakhel.
- It is also customary to read the entire Book of Tehillim. This alludes to the fact that King David, the author of the book of Tehillim, is the honored Sukkot guest of Hoshana Rabbah.
- It is preferable to read the Tehillim after midnight (1:04 a.m.) or at least after the moon rises. (The moon rises in Miami at 1:09 a.m. on the night of Hoshana Rabba. So this does not help much in Miami.)
- The Chabad custom is to say Tehillim while wearing a gartel and to recite it quickly.
- There is a special prayer (Yehi Ratzon) for Hoshana Rabba that should be recited after each sefer (section) of Tehillim. This is in addition to the regular Yehi Ratzon that is recited after every book of Tehillim.
- There are also certain readings from the Zohar that are customarily recited on this night. The Sefardic custom is to recite these as part of the Tikun Leil Hoshana Rabbah. The Lubavitcher Rebbe mentioned this custom on several occasions.
- The Hoshanot are five willow-branches (aravot) which are used during the prayers of Hoshana Rabba (see below).
- Some have the custom of only using three branches.
- The custom of hitting the ground with willows originates from the prophets while the ritual of leaning willow branches against the altar in the Holy Temple (see below) is an oral tradition handed down from Sinai.
- This custom is so important that the Jewish calendar was structured in such a way to ensure that Hoshanah Rabbah never coincides with Shabbat, thus ensuring that this custom is fulfilled every year.
- It is customary in some communities to prepare hoshanot for each member of the family including small children.
- Although technically one can fulfill one’s obligation with one willow branch that has only one leaf on it, it is customary to take five branches that are complete with leaves and that look nice. The Arizal said that the aravot for the Hoshanot should have all the specifications that would make them kosher to use for the Lulav.
- The branches should be at least 3 tefachim (10 inches).
- Some have the custom to tie the branches together with a lulav leaf. One should not break off a leaf from his Lulav for this custom. If one’s Lulav is larger than the required size (four tefachim / handbreadths) some permit the removal of leaves from the bottom for this purpose. If one’s aravot are tied with a rubber band, it is best not to hold them in the place of that band.
- Some have the custom of personally preparing the hoshanot for every member of their family.
- The hoshanot should preferably be prepared at night. Some have a custom to pray for children to be upright Jews at this time. The gematria (numerical value) of ערבה /aravah (willow) is זרע /zerah (seed) – see below.
- It is possible to discern one’s destiny in the coming year by standing in the moonlight on the night of Hoshana Rabbah and observing one’s shadow. Since most people do not know how to interpret this properly, it is recommended that one not try to do this. Rather, one should trust in Hashem and not seek to figure out the future.
- It is proper to wear Shabbat clothes on this day.
- The appropriate greeting for this day is “Good Yom Tov” or “Chag Same’ach.”
- It is customary in many communities to come to Shul early on this day.
- There are five days that one should arise early to go to Shul:
- Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur, Hoshana Rabba, Purim, Tisha Be’Av
- There are five days that one should arise early to go to Shul:
- A mnemonic to remember these days is the verse וַיַּשְׁכֵּם אַבְרָהָם בַּבֹּקֶר (And Avraham rose early in the morning
- אַבְרָהָם stands for
- אב(Tisha Be’Av)
- בּריאת העולם (Rosh HaShana, day of Briat Ha’olam/creation of the world)
- רבּה (a reference to Yom Kippur which is referred to as the great fast day [Rabba means great])
- הושׁענה רבּה (Hoshana Rabba)
- מגילה (Purim on which we read the Megillah)
- אַבְרָהָם stands for
- It is proper to add in giving Tzedakah on this day. This helps “sweeten the judgments.”
- In some communities, the chazzan wears a kittel on this day. This is not the Chabad custom.
- Some have the custom of praying the Pesukei DeZimrah of Shabbat and Yom Tov on this day as well as the Kedusha of Musaf. This is not the Chabad custom.
- Before Hallel, one should remove the two upper rings binding the lulav, leaving only the three bottom rings. Several reasons are given for this custom:
- To increase in joy with the extra spreading of the lulav branches.
- The waving of the lulav is done as a prayer to G-d that He protect us from bad winds and dew. Thus, on the final day of the prayers for rain, this waving is increased.
- The lulav branches, which are now more spread out, represent the Jewish people who are spread out amongst the nations.
- The removal of the constricting rings also represents the easing of the birth pangs of Moshiach and the birth of Moshiach.
- It is customary to take out all of the Sifrei Torah from the Aron Kodesh (holy ark) and have people hold them at the bimah (table for the Torah reading) during hoshanot. Preferably, people who do not have their own lulav and etrog should be given this honor. All the hoshanot are then recited while the congregation and Chazzan circle the Bimah seven times (Siddur pg. 368).
- When reciting the Hosahnos, the Chabad custom is that the chazzan begins reading aloud from the stanzas which begin with the letter samach or ayin just as he does during the hoshanot of the other days of Sukkot (according to Chabad custom).
- This is similar to the procedure that was done in the Bait HaMikdash on this day.
- In addition, the number of circles around the bimah corresponds to the number of circles the Jews walked around Jericho when conquering it. This may be related to the custom that some have to blow the shofar while circling the bimah. This is reminiscent of the Kohanim blowing the shofar while circling the city of Jericho. In addition, the fact that we circle the bimah once for six days and then seven times on the seventh day parallels the way the Jewish people encircled Jericho. (This may relate to the fact that the Jewish people began encircling the city of Jericho on the 22nd of Nissan – the day after Hoshana Rabbah.
- These seven circles also resemble the seven times that the Kallah walks around the Chattan under the Chuppah. This is done to preapre the Chattan and Kallah for their unification. We are similarly preparing ourselves for our unification with G-d which takes place on Shmini Atzeret.
- At the conclusion of the Hoshanot, the Sifrei Torah should be returned to the Aron Kodesh, and the Chazzan should recite Kaddish. One should then take the five Aravot and beat them on the ground five times. One should then recite the paragraph beginning Yehi Ratzon (pg. 382).
- According to the Arizal, one should not hold the aravot together with the lulav and etrog at all as this can cause an improper “mixture” of Chessed (kindness) and Gevurah (severity).
- Some have the custom to throw their aravot on top of the Aron Kodesh (holy ark). Some relate this to the leaning of the aravot on the Mizbe’ach (holy altar) in the Bait HaMikdash.
- The Lubavitcher Rebbe would often put the aravot in his Siddur and take them out of Shul with him.
- Some save the aravot (as well as the lulav etc.) and use them for burning the Chametz before Pesach. If this is not possible, they burn them beforehand to ensure that they are not used in an innapropriate way.
- Some say that carrying a leaf of the hoshanot is a segulah (spiritually propitious act) for general protection, safe travels, protection from anxiety and bad dreams, and for having children. (Arava is the same gematria as zera [seed].)
- Some have a custom of using the etrog as besomim (spices for havdalah); others cook it and make jam out of it. Eating it is considered a segulah for an easy childbirth. This is especially true if eaten on Tu Bishvat.
- Some save the Haddassim and use them for besamim for havdalah.
- If one does not plan on using these items in the above ways, it is best not to throw them out with the garbage. They can be left somewhere (under bushes or the like) where they do not get in the way and just naturally decompose. They can also be burned.
- Some say that while one should eat grain foods in the Sukkah on Shminit Atzeret, one need not be particular regarding consuming non-grain foods outside the Sukkah (although during Sukkot it is a mitzvah to be particular.)
- Despite the above, the custom of many Chassidic communities is to make kiddush and have mezonot in the Sukkah and to eat the rest of the meal indoors.
- As the simple reading of the Talmud does not support this view, one should only follow it if this is the custom of one’s family and/or community.
- The Chabad custom is to be particular on Shmini Atzeret and eat and drink all foods (including water) only in the Sukkah.
- After the Torah reading, Ashkenazim recite Yizkor (pg. 337 in the Siddur).
- The reason we recite Yizkor at the end of every Yom Tov is to elicit the merit of our holy ancestors on behalf of ourselves and our children. A similar occurrence would take place in the Bait HaMikdash (Holy Temple) on the three Regalim (pilgrimage festivals) – Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot. The nesahmot (souls) of the patriarchs are manifested in the spiritual Bait HaMikdash that is in heaven. This Bait HaMikdash would in turn be manifested within the physical Bait HaMikdash in Jerusalem. It was for this reason that on these festivals there was always enough room to bow down, despite the vast number of people present.
- It is customary for those not reciting Yizkor to leave the Shul while it is being recited. The reason for this is that if they would remain inside, people may think (or say) that their parents passed away. This may cause an ayin hara (negative judgment) against them.
- One who is within the first year of the passing of his relative, should remain in Shul for Yizkor but not recite the prayer in their memory. This is the Chabad custom. Some say that they should leave the Shul during that year as well.
- The reason for this is that if they would remain in Shul and say the Yizkor prayer, they may wail and cry, thus disturbing the joy of their Yom Tov as well as the concentration of others. An additional reason is that during the first year after passing, the memory of one’s loved one is so strong that one need not recite the prayer to “remember” them.
- It is beneficial for the souls of one’s departed relatives that one commit to giving tzedakah in their merit. Nevertheless, one should not say that they are vowing to do so as one who does not fulfill a vow is committing a serious sin which can have negative results. Rather, one should say “bli neder” (without the strength of a vow) or simply “she’etein l’tzdakah” (that I will give to tzedakah).
- We begin praising G-d for rain in the second blessing of the Amidah on Shmini Atzeret day.
- Although the rainy season (in Israel) actually begins on the first day of Sukkot, we do not mention rain in our prayers during Sukkot as rain in the Sukkah is a sign of a curse.
- We do not begin mentioning rain on the eve of Shmini Atzeret since not as many people come to davening in the evening as they do in the morning. Nor do we begin mentioning rain in Shacharit (morning prayers) of Shmini Atzeret as it is forbidden to interrupt between the blessing of Ga’al Yisrael and the Amidah in order to make the announcement of Mashiv HaRu’ach (see below).
- Nevertheless, we don’t begin asking for rain in our weekday prayers (in the ninth blessing of the Amidah) until the seventh of Cheshvan (in Israel) or the fourth of December (outside of Israel).
- Prior to Mussaf (Siddur pg. 340), the Gabbai should announce that we begin saying Mashiv HaRu’ach U’morid Hageshem (G-d makes the wind blow and the rain to fall). As mentioned, this is added in the second bracha (blessing) of the Amida.
- The Chazzan recites the special Tefilla of Geshem – prayer for rain (Siddur pg. 355) during his repetition of the Musaf Amida.
- Following the announcement, if one forgot to say Mashiv HaRu’ach U’morid Hageshem, the law is as follows:
- If one at least said Morid Hatal (G-d makes the dew fall) [this praise is recited during the summer by Sefardim as well as by Ashkenazim who pray Nusach Sefard], he need not repeat the Amidah. Nevertheless, if one realized their omission before saying the name of G-d at the end of the second blessing (mechayeh hameitim), he may insert Mashiv Haru’ach etc. in the middle of the bracha at any point before the words “Baruch Attah…”
- One who didn’t say Mashiv HaRu’ach and his custom is to not say Morid Hatal and already completed the blessing must stop where he is and repeat the Amidah from the beginning.
- If one remembered before beginning the next bracha, he may say it at that point.
- One who is praying alone on the morning of Shmini Atzeret should not say Musaf before the time that the announcement of Mashiv HaRu’ach is made in Shul.
- One who heard the Mashiv HaRu’ach announcement before davening Shacharit (praying the morning service) must say Mashiv HaRu’ach when he prays Shacharit (if he is praying without a minyan).
- On the afternoon of Shmini Atzeret, it is customary to visit the Sukkah for one last time to “take leave” of the Sukkah. In Yiddish, this is referred to as “bazegennen zich mit di Sukkah.”
- There is a Yehi Ratzon prayer that many recite on this occasion. In it, one prays that we should merit to sit in the Sukkah made of the Leviathan skin. The Chabad custom is to not recite this but rather to simply have a small snack.
- In Israel, one should take leave of the Sukkah in the afternoon of Hoshana Rabbah.
Monday night and Tuesday, Oct. 24 and 25 / 23 Tishrei
- “One should dance and sing in honor of the Torah as it says concerning King David: ‘King David hopping and dancing before the L-rd.’ It was testified regarding the Arizal that he said that the highest level that he achieved was in the merit that he rejoiced with all his strength at a simcha (joy) of a mitzvah.”
- One may not refuse the honor of holding the Torah during a hakafah just as one may not refuse the honor of receiving an aliyah.
- While the Torahs are being carried, it is proper for all present to stand and not to sit. If one is weak and needs to sit, he may do so during the hakafot but (preferably) not while the Sifrei Torah are being placed in or taken out of the Aron Kodesh. In addition, one should try to stand for the first time the Torah is taken around the Bimah for each of the Hakafot.
- It is not proper to give the Sefer Torah to a child for him to carry and dance with.
- If one completed the hakafot in his shul and then goes to visit another shul where they are still doing the hakafot, he should rejoice and sing with them.
- The Lubavitcher Rebbe instituted that his chassidim visit Shuls of other communities on Simchat Torah. The purpose of this is that having “new faces” will help increase the joy in those shuls. This is referred to as Tahalucha (a march).
- The Chabad custom is to return the Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls) to the Aron Kodesh between each hakafah.
- There were certain songs that were customarily sung by the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Hakafot. Some of there were: The Hakafot Niggun, the hakafot nigun of Reb Levi Yitzchak (the Rebbe’s father), Al HaSela Hach, Vechol Karnei Reshaim and others.
- One who is in the year of mourning after the loss of a parent should not dance with the Torah. He may, however, be present during the Hakafot. According to Chabad custom, he may walk around the Bimah while holding a Sefer Torah if he is accompanied by someone else.
- Some have a custom to read from the Torah on the evening of Simchat Torah after the Hakafot. This is not the Chabad custom.
- Aleinu is recited after the end of Hakafot.
1. Borei Pri Hagafen
2. Bracha of Kiddush for Yom Tov
3. Bracha of Shehechiyanu
Tuesday, Oct. 25 / 23 Tishrei
- In some communities, the Rav or an outstanding Torah scholar is honored with the Chatan Torah aliyah. In other communities such a person is honored with the Chatan Bereishit aliyah. In any case, it should be a person who is honored and respected because of his importance or his wealth.
- The Lubavitcher Rebbe would customarily receive the Chatan Bereishit aliyah.
- Some say that the Chatan Bereishit Aliyah is a segulah (spiritually propitious act) for wealth and should therefore be given (or sold) to a generous person who will use his wealth properly.
- A Kohen or Levi may receive these aliyot.
- A father and son may receive these aliyot.
- One who already received an aliyah during the regular Torah reading may still receive one of these aliyot.
- It is considered proper to pay for receiving these (and many other) honors. This indicates how precious we consider the Torah and Mitzvot.
- The Chatan Torah (the one honored with the final aliyah of the Torah) completes the Torah using the first Sefer Torah.
- It is customary in many communities for the person doing hagbah to lift up the Torah while reversing his hands and to then turn the Torah around in midair. This symbolizes the need to delve into the Torah. This is not the Chabad custom.
- The second Sefer Torah is used for the Chatan Bereishit Aliyah (the one honored to begin the Torah).
- When reading the beginning of the book of Bereishit, the community recites aloud the words at the end of each day of creation (Vayehi Erev Vayehi Boker etc.) as well as the paragraph about Shabbat (Vayechulu). This is to publicly proclaim our belief in the creation story as recorded in the Torah and to indicate that the continued existence of the world is dependent on the Jewish people’s continued devotion to G-d.
- Half-Kadish is recited after the Chatan Berieshit Aliyah. If half-Kadish was mistakenly recited after Chattan Torah, it should be recited again after Chatan Bereishit.
- The third Torah is used for Maftir.
- Following the Torah reading, we recite Sisu V’simchu (Siddur pg. 388) and pray Musaf.
- The Chatan Torah and Chatan Bereishit usually sponsor a feast on Simchat Torah in honor of the completion of the Torah. (A mourner may participate in this meal.)
- Candle-lighting is at 6:23
|Chatzot Motzei Shabbat (Tehillim)||Moonrise on Sunday morning. (Say Tehillim after this time, if necessary.)||
|Candle lighting Sunday night||Candle lighting Mondaynight||Yom Tov ends|
|Miami, Fl||1:04 am||1:09 am||7:24 am||6:27 pm||7:19 pm||7:18 pm|
|Bklyn NY||12:40 am||12:17 am||5:50 am||4:45 pm||6:43 pm||6:42 pm|
|La, Ca||12:37 am||12:34 am||7:23 am||5:51 pm||6:46 pm||6:45 pm|
|Jerusalem, Israel||12:23 am||11:59 pm||7:24 am||5:18 pm||Holiday ends 6:34 pm||—|
|Melbourne, Australia||1:04 am||2:06 am||6:24 am||7:27 pm||8:28 pm||8:29 pm|