The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 


 

A Hoshana for the planet

The extraordinary native American-led protest against the Dakota access pipeline (DAPL) has become the one of the most empowering and important environmental causes of our time. The Dakota pipeline protest is among other things about protecting water as well as sacred land, both important themes of Sukkot.

photo by Arlo Iron Cloud, from indianz.com

The protests and prayers for water and sacred land inspired me to write a Hoshana for the planet related to a few of the chief ills we are facing today, including new pipelines with all the risks they entail, both from failure and spills, and from extending the life and reach of the petroleum industry. This Hoshana is focused most especially on some aspects of climate change (drought, flood, and ocean acidification) and other impacts of the oil and gas industries, but also on a few other ecosystem threats that we face today.

Besides the pipeline, we are truly facing severe drought in California, and we had a drought this year (5775/2016) in Western Mass. There have been years of drought on and off in Israel as well. We need our prayers for rain to be more than just light-hearted rituals. We need to really pray for rain and for the well-being of the water cycle.

Please feel free to cut and paste, incorporate your own material, and add and subtract. I hope this Hoshana helps you bring that focus into all of your Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret prayers.

Donwload DOC | PNG. Click here for more on Sukkot and Hoshana Rabbah

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Hosha na – Please save!

Please save aquifers from poison and drought! Hosha na!

Save bees from pesticide and fungus and collapse! Hosha na!

Save bedrock from fracking and earthquakes! Hosha na!

Save the breathing of this blue planet! Hosha na!

Save clouds from withholding their treasures / Hosha na ananim mil’ham’ni’a otzroteihem! Hosha na!

Save Earth and all that fills her / Hosha na Eretz u-m’lo’ah! Hosha na!

Save flesh and spirit and soul in every being / Hosha na basar v’ruach u-n’shamah b’khol b’ri’ah! Hosha na!

Save glistening rivers from becoming rivers of oil and blood! Hosha na!

Save habitat and home and species! Hosha na!

Save hardwood forests from clearcutting! Hosha na!

Please save! Keep drought from decimating! Hosha na!

Save lodgepole and ponderosa from pine beetle! Hosha na!

Save mollusk shells from being eaten away by the sea they drink and breathe! Hosha na!

Save northern plains from flowing oil! Hosha na!

Save our will and vision from despair! Hosha na!

Save our prayers from being empty words! Hosha na!

Save pipelines already pumping from leaks! Hosha na!

Save refugees from drowning and war and hate! Hosha na!

Please save! Renew the face of the Earth / Hosha na! Chidush p’nei ha’adamah! Hosha na!

Save sacred lands from being stripped and stolen and despoiled! Hosha na!

Save seas from inundating cities! Hosha na!

Please save! Show us the rainbow rejoicing in his colors / Hosha na! Her’eh lanu et ha-keshet sas u-mit’pa’er b’govanin shelo! Hosha na!

Save the weave and web of Life! Hosha na!

Please save a world suspended in space / Hosha na olam t’luyah al b’li mah! Hosha na!

Hosha na! Save, please!

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Several lines translated into Hebrew are drawn from traditional Hoshanot, Psalms, and in one case, the prayer of the P'ri Eitz Hadar (the original Tu Bish'vat seder).

Some of the issues I included in this Hoshana are closely related to the themes of drought and water that are already a big part of the Hoshanot prayers. Others are broadly intertwined, like the refugee crisis which in many places can be profoundly exacerbated or driven by effects of climate change, or are immediate environmental threats like the colony collapse disorder that is decimating bees.

While the traditional Hoshanot are focused on the realm of agriculture, this Hoshana is more focused on realms of Nature beyond agriculture, though of course these realms are profoundly intertwined with our agriculture and profoundly affected by our agriculture. Also, while traditional Hoshanot are focused on the land of Israel, this one is more focused on the geography of North America, and refers specifically to the Dakota pipeline in the verse "save the northern plains from flowing oil".

The Hoshana is ordered according to the English alphabet, but I don't try to hit each letter, and some letters are represented more than once. There are 24 lines. You will also notice that like the traditional Hoshanot, this one uses the beginning "Hosha na" sometimes as the verb followed by the thing needing to be saved, and sometimes as a completed exclamation followed by a separate sentence.

I hope this piece of liturgy inspires you, and that you use it and/or write your own liturgy. As always, I am interested in any ways that you tweak this liturgy or create liturgy inspired by it, and I hope you'll share those with me.

Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006