There seems no more of a perfect day for the Master to reveal Himself in a more full way than Hoshanna Rabba.
Now on the last day [Hoshanna Rabba], the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified. Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. (John 7:37-43)
Hoshanna Rabba this year, 5777, falls on 23 October, that is the seventh day of the festival of Sukkot. Hoshanna Rabba means “The Great Save Us.” It is called this because the phrase Hoshanna [Save us]! is repeated over and over throughout the liturgy. As I prayed with a small group this morning, it was really driven home to me that this is the day that Israel is calling for salvation, i.e, calling for Yeshua.
In the morning service, there is a processional time where the bimah [podium] is circled seven times complete with shofar blows. This is in remembrance of the fall of Jericho. The midrash states that the walls of Jericho didn’t just collapse but literally went into the ground. May it be the same with the things that hold us in bondage, that they also are broken in Messiah.
Another of the traditions is to take five willow branches and bang them on the ground five times. The idea is to cause as many leaves to fall off as possible during this process, symbolizing the atonement of our sins. On a day where we are calling out to HaShem for salvation, it was a clear reminder to me of the atonement we have in Yeshua. Thankfully almost all of my leaves fell off!
All in all, this is an exciting day where the liturgy is filled with Messianic allusions and pictures. As we look forward to Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, may we walk in the redemption and atonement of our Master Yeshua.