Baal Shem Tov, or Besht — the founder of Chasidism —
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.
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.
Hosha na – Please save!_______
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