I was walking home from shul after Yom Kippur with a friend, and he made an interesting point.
We all know that Hashem works like we do. The more we put ourselves in His hands, the more He takes care of us Himself. The more we rely on ourselves, Hashem pulls away and allows it.
We also know that on Rosh Hashanah, the decree for the new year is written. On Yom Kippur, it's sealed. On the last day of Sukkos, it's "sent out."
Well, for us living in Eretz Yisroel, we might get off lucky if we are not worthy of a good new year. Why? Because Hashem is acting like we do. Just as we use the Israeli Postal Service, so too Hashem. Therefore, even IF the decree arrives, it will most likely arrive nine months late and at the wrong destination. :)
There is so much to discuss about Sukkos, yet, between Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, getting kids back to school, keeping them home two weeks later, this and that…Sukkos, I find, is barely learned about. Yet, there are so many deep aspects to it.
One of those aspects is the Hoshanas that are done every day of Sukkos. Sometime in the middle of Shachris, we take our lulav and esrog in hand, circle around the shul once (seven times on the last day, none on Shabbos) and we say a series of requests; each line starting and ending with "Hosha Na."
(Right before the shul was locked up last week, I was able to… liberate…a certain sefer dedicated to the Hoshanas.)
"Hosha" means "a complete rescue and return from all troubles".
But what does "Na" mean? Some, like the Even Ezra, say that it means "now," that we ask Hashem to deliver us NOW from all our troubles. Some, like the Shla"h, say that it means "please." We are begging Hashem, "PLEASE save us from our troubles." And there are those who say that it means both, that is why we begin AND end each line with "Hosha Na."
The Bnei Yissachar writes that "Na" stands for its numerical value: 51. The last day of Sukkos, called Hoshanah Rabba, where the decree is sent out, is the 51st day since the first day of Elul, when we began the process of teshuva. So, we are asking Hashem "Save us on the 51(st day), that the sending of the decrees should be done for our good and our salvation."
The beginning of each day’s Hoshanas, starts with four stanzas; in each one we ask Hashem to save us "for His sake." Not for our sake, not for our families' sake, not even for the nation’s sake. But rather, for His sake alone. This reminded me of something I saw in my machzor.
At the end of the Shemoneh Esrei, we also say four times "for your sake": act for the sake of Your name, act for the sake of Your right hand, act for the sake of your Holiness, act for the sake of your Torah. The Tur (Orach Chaim 122) writes that somebody who is careful when saying the four phrases will merit to greet the Divine Presence. It is because we are davening for Hashem's "sake," that is where our loyalties lie.
While our davening and Hoshanas are for our good, ultimately, we beg Hashem, do it for YOUR sake. The more the Jewish people languish in exile, the more Hashem's name is desecrated. That should be our primary concern as Jews. We ask Hashem for physical and spiritual bounty, not to sit back and relax in, rather to use as tools to bring honor to Hashem.
With that, I wish you all a wonderful Shabbos and Sukkos!