Can the Rav sum up the lesson of Hoshana Rabah in a few words?
My good friend, Sholom Hamada, asks, “What can we sum up as the teaching of Hoshana Rabah?” Since Hoshana Rabah is tonight, we’ll take the time to speak about it a bit.
We’ll see tomorrow morning what the theme of Hoshana Rabah is. The theme is – and it’s surprising that most people don’t even notice it – the theme of Hoshana Rabah is to ask for rain! You’re asking for rain!
The shatz stands up and he plaintively prays, הושענא, הושענא! He’s crying out, אנא הושענא הושיעה נא! He’s crying out and praying for rain. It’s repeated so many times – that’s the theme of the day. And the custom that the neviim instituted of striking the ground with the aravos, that’s also prayer for rain. It’s a form of praying for rain! People don’t know what’s taking place! They’re thinking about everything else except for the most important thing. On Hoshana Rabah of all the things that we request we are asking for rain!
Now imagine; suppose you would call up your friend, once and twice, and then hundred times and you said to him, “Please answer me. הושענה! Please come to me! Please answer me. Aneini! I need you. Please come over. Come! Come! Come! הושענה!”
And so finally he comes over to your house. You’re begging incessantly, so finally he comes over and rings the bell. So you go to the door and tell him, “Stop bothering me already!”
What is that about?! You’re yelling for hours about rain, rain, rain, and then when the rain comes, you complain about the rain.
You should feel some sort of responsibility to appreciate the rain! If you’re going to commit yourselves tomorrow morning, like I’m sure you will, to spend a long time – it takes hours in some places – praying for rain, then you have to realize that rain is a great happiness.
And we’ve actually been receiving this happiness for the last few days. The only pity is that it interferes with our mitzvah of living in the sukkah. Otherwise we should be internalizing that it’s a happiness; a great happiness. Rain means everything that you put into your mouth. Not only the soda – because that’s what rain is; it’s soda, just without the dirt. Rain means not only that you’ll have something to bathe in – and that in itself is a great benefit – but rain means entire generations of people. All of us are eighty percent water. That’s what we are, eighty percent rain! So when it rains, generations are descending from the clouds.
Rain is a very great blessing!! And we should learn that lesson tomorrow. It’s a pity – people talk and talk and talk, for hours they’re walking around the bima, talking and walking, talking and walking. And the chazan even puts on a kittel, only that he doesn’t begin to know what he’s talking about. The same shatz who davened all morning, as soon as he finishes davening, he walks out of the shul and it’s raining, and he says, “What a nasty day!” He just got through asking for it! The answer is that he doesn’t even know what he’s saying.
It shows us how unthinking the world is. It’s a pity that nobody thinks. You have to learn what a great blessing rain is. At least that you should come away with after Hoshana Rabah. And that brings us back to one of our old subjects; גדול יום הגשמים – How great is the day when it rains! Only that we’re running out of time for tonight. Time is up, so I wish you all a pleasant Yom Tov. ושמחת בחגיך והיית אך שמח.
TAPE # 91