Rosh Hashana is known as the Day of Judgment (Yom Hadin), the day on which God judges every person. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is the day on which God finalizes His verdict on the judgments of Rosh Hashana.

But actually, the days of judgment are not quite over. According to tradition, as stated in the Zohar (3:31b): “This [Hoshana Rabbah] is the final day of judgment for water, source of all blessings. On the seventh day of Sukkot the judgment of the world is finalized, and the edicts are sent forth from the King.”

Since it seems that the days of judgment are not truly over until the seventh day of Sukkot, that explains why the tashlich ceremony may be performed until Hoshana Rabbah. What is the connection?

On Rosh Hashana, God determines the fate and fortune of both individuals and communities for the year to come, including exactly how much each person will earn in the coming year. Material endowments are one form of sustenance. On the holiday of Sukkot, however, God determines the world’s water allotment for the year to come.

Since God is still sitting in His heavenly courtroom deciding the fate of the world, there is time to slip in a final appeal or to do an extra act of kindness in the hope of altering the scales of justice favorably.

On Hoshana Rabbah, extra hakafot (circles around the bimah), seven in all, are added to the service, as well as the ritual of beating the willows. In some communities, it is customary to stay up all night studying Torah on the night of Hoshana Rabbah. Additionally, many people eat a light, festive meal in the afternoon of Hoshana Rabbah.

Hoshana Rabbah 5783 begins Saturday night and continues through Sunday.

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