Hoshanah in the highest


Holy, holy, holy
Lord God of Hosts.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Hosanna is a plea for help: Save! Deliver! Rescue! Defend! Preserve!

Sometimes it is good to look back at Judaism when thinking about Christianity. Psalm Sunday commemorates Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The chant “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” The word Hosanna is important on this day. Hosanna is a plea for help: Save! Deliver! Rescue! Defend! Preserve! The day also involves processions, and the waving of branches of palm or willow. Willow is used often where palms do not grow. I think England calls this day Willow Sunday. There is a Jewish day that also involves the word Hosanna, and the waving of branches, and processions. It is the last day of Sukkot. As a side note Pope Benedict linked the Transfiguration to Sukkot , the similarity is illustrated with the proposed pitching of tents. The following (including links!) comes from a collection of Jewish websites explaining the origins and customs of the Jewish holy day  “Hoshanah Rabbah” Its a thought, not a commentary. I found the similarity between Hoshanah Rabbah and Palm Sunday curious. The investigation was quick with only a few similarities sketched out for my notes.

Hoshanah Rabbah,  the seventh day of Sukkot is a semi-holiday in its own right. Still counted among the days of Hol Hamoed (intermediate days of the festival), this day’s name means “the great hoshanah.” A hoshanah is a series of seven liturgical poems calling upon God to rescue and redeem the Jewish people, primarily by sending rain. Hoshanah Rabbah was viewed by the rabbis of the Talmud as a mini-Yom Kippur, a day on which the entire Jewish community is judged by God to be worthy or not of the seasonal rains. All seven hoshanot prayers are recited in seven hakkafot, or processions, around the sanctuary. At the conclusion of the seven processions, a special ritual is conducted in which the branches of the willow (the lulav ) are struck upon the ground. This is a symbolic attempt to rid ourselves of any remaining sins (the leaves representing these transgressions) that might influence God’s decision to send the seasonal rains.On the evening following Hoshanah Rabbah, the festival of Shemini Atzeret begins. While for many Jews, Hoshanah Rabbah is the last day one shakes the lulav and etrog and dwells in the sukkah , a number of traditional Jews continue to dwell in the sukkah through Shemini Atzeret.

The Lulav: a bundle of branches representing three species — willow, myrtle and palm — which are shaken together with the etrog on Sukkot.



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