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Sunday, October 23, 2005

HOSHANA RABBA - KING DAVID'S USHPIZIN & R. SHAUL'S BIRTHDAY! King David dancing before the Holy Ark

Tonight is the beginning of Hoshana Rabba, one of the Holiest days of the Jewish Year, perhaps second only to Yom Kippur. It was on Hoshana Rabba that there were special Hakafos [encircling] of the Mizbeach [altar] in the Holy Temple, with the willow branches [aravos] - seven times [see Mishnayos Sukka].

Hoshana Rabba is also the Ushpizin of David HaMelech, King David. The Ushpizin are our spiritual Sukka guests: our forefathers and teachers: Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Yosef and David. King David, who composed the Psalms - sefer Tehillim - was also known as "N'im Zemiros Yisrael - the Sweet Singer of Israel [the Jewish People]". So tonight has a very special connection to Negina.

Moreover, Rebbe Shaul Yedidya Elazar Taub Zt"l, the second Modzitzer Rebbe, was born in the city of Osherov, in the Radom district of Poland, on Hoshana Rabba. When he was born everyone knew he would have a great talent for music, for not only was it Hoshana Rabba, but it was in the year Zemiros [5647] or Zimras, which means Song[s]. [The secular date was Oct. 20, 1886].

Every year on Hoshana Rabba night, the Modzitzer Chassidim get together for a festive seuda [meal]. As is the custom of many throughout Sukkos, the fifteen Shir HaMaalos are recited - but in Modzitz, of course, they are sung. This is often preceded by an extensive sampling of the new niggunim that were composed for the recently-ended Yamim Noraim [High Holyday] period.

This year, although the Modzitzer Rebbe Shlita is still in the hospital, and we wish him a speedy recovery - he was able to compose and record for his Chassidim 19 new niggunim. Some of these will be sung shortly at the Hoshana Rabba seuda in Bnei Brak, as they were on Selichos, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur this year!

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