Reb Zalman's Prayers for the Earth on Hoshana Rabbah

[The Hoshanot below are by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of P'nai Or Religious Fellowship, co-founder of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal; former professor of religion at Temple University and of world wisdom at Naropa University. Copyright (c) 1998 by Zalman Schachter-Shalomi.]

[Editorial note by Rabbi Arthur Waskow:

[HOSHA'NOT  ["Hosha-Na" = "Please save us"] are recited while walking or dancing with the Lulav and Etrog around the Torah, each one on its day, each day of Sukkot . They are then also recited --  all of the seven -- on Hosha'na Rabba, THE GREAT HOSHA'ANA DAY and in some communities these seven are also accompanied by the sounding of the SHOFAR . These seven dances are called Hakkafot.

[On Hosha'na Rabbah, traditionally willow branches were beaten on the ground. Since the willow is among the trees one of the thirstiest for water, this beating was understood as a way of reminding the Holy One, YHWH, the Breath of Life, to send rain so that willows could survive.

[Reb Zalman wrote this version of Hoshanot, following the traditional pattern by basing it on the seven days of the Creation story and following the English ABC (while the traditional version has all the letters of the Alefbet and is based on other levels of the interpretation of the quality of the days). The traditional versions Hosha'ana 4,5 and 6 have strong ecological concerns and were the encouragement to offer these. 

[These were first written in 1998, when The Shalom Center and Elat Chayyim retreat center co-sponsored a "prayer with our legs, prayer that was subversive" at the banks of the Hudson River in Beacon, NY, appealing to the Holy One Who is the Breath of Life to save the Earth from drought and famine and locusts -- and also from the carcinogenic PCBs that General Electric had poured into the river.

[For this protest/ celebration, the seven Hakkafot were danced with gigantic  banners in colors that symbolized the meaning of the Seven Days of Creation -- green for the grasses of the Third Day, blue for the Oceans, red for the red-blooded mammals, white for Shabbat. The willows were beaten on the banks of the Hudson.

[Three hundred Jews who lived along the Hudson from  Kingston to the West Side of Manhattan (including rabbinical students from the Jewish Theological Seminary), plus a dozen nuns from convents along the river, plus one Iroquois elder whom we invited to hold the Torah Scroll for the first Hakkafah, plus Pete Seeger took part in beating willows on the ground, dancing seven times with the Torah Scroll in honor of the Seven Days of Creation, and chanting prayers -- including this one.  (Seeger is in the photo above, with Reb Arthur Waskow and Shoshana Waskow.) The community also signed petitions to New York State to require GE to clean up the Hudson.

For the first (Sun?) day - turn

Hosha'na for the sake of
the Aura of life
the Beams of Light
the Clearness of Light
the Dynamics of Light
the Effulgence of Light
the diFfraction of light
the Glory of light
the Haloes of light
the Illumination of light
the Joys of sight
For the second (Mon?) day - turn

Hosha'na for the sake of
the Karma of the separation of sky and water
the Luminosity of the sky
the Majesty of the sky
the Nourishment that comes in rain from the sky
the Orient and Occident in the sky
the Purple sunset sky
the Quality of purity of the sky
the Range of the sky
the Stretch of the firmament of the sky
the Treasures of rain the pour from the sky
For the third (Tues?) day - turn

Hosha'na for the sake of

the Ubiquity of the plants
the Variety of the plants
the Wellness of the plants
the Xanthia gum trees
the Yucca plants
the Zucchinis and Zinnias
the Aspen trees
the Berry bushes
the Chlorophyl made by the leaves
the Date palms

For the fourth (Wednes?) day - turn
Hosha'na for the sake of

the Earth and planets
the Faraway stars
the Galaxies in space
the Horizons of the sky
the Infinity of space
the Joyous music of the spheres
the Komets and Asteroids
the Location of Latitude and Longitude on the maps
the Moons around the planets
the Nodes of the Zodiac

for the fifth (Thurs?) day - turn

Hosha'na for the sake of

Owls and Other Oviparious life
Perches and Plovers
Quail and Quohaugs
Robins and Red Snappers
Seagulls and Swordfish
Turtles and Turtledoves
Varieties of Plankton
Waterfowl and Whales
Yellowtails other Tunas
for the sixth (Fri?) day - turn

Hosha'na for the sake of

Zebus and Zebras
Aardvarks and Armadillos
Bears and Babies
Children and Chimpanzees
Deers and Dromedaries
Elks and Moose
Fawns and Families
Giraffes and Gorillas
Homo Sapiens and Hominids
Instinctual and Intelligent life

for the seventh (Shabbat?) day

Hosha'na for the sake of our

Letting Earth Rest
Letting Earth heal
Letting Earth recover
Leaving Earth in Peace
Letting People find their center
Letting people enjoy rest and freedom
Letting children romp
Living the Shabbat in Mindfulness
Loving others and ourselves
Letting Being do all the Doing


Jewish and Interfaith Topics: