Today is the last day of Succos - Hoshana Raba. On this day we can still positively influence our "verdict" for the year. The best way to win this fight is with simple humility and commitment to be upright individuals who will be loyal to the values that G-d wants us to live by.
image credit: Na'aman Kam
Today we put aside the three more beautiful and fragrant of the four species and focus exclusively on the willow. This is because the willow represents the common person. As Rav Kook said: "The lowly willow represents the common folk, unlearned and unexceptional in good deeds. Yet, these 'willows' are blessed with an abundance of common sense and are unencumbered with sophisticated calculations; and they have fulfilled important roles in the history of the Jewish people...The custom to hit the floor with the willow is not to punish the willow, as is often thought (for not studying enough Torah). It is rather to show that the willow is also a force to be reckoned with - a natural, healthy power that is part of the arsenal of the Jewish people. We don't strike the willow. We strike with the willow."
Blessings for a wonderful new year 5773!
Dr. Zev Ballen