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Wednesday, October 3

The Weekly Shtikle - Hoshana Rabba

Coming to you direct from the Sukkah:
 
    By the time we reach Hoshana Rabba it is easy to become somewhat numbed by the repetitive nature of the Torah reading for each day of Chol HaMoed. I must admit I never paid much attention to it until I recently learned the relevant halachos as they pertained to Maseches Megillah.
 
    The dilemma is that on Chol HaMoed we must call four people to the Torah as on Rosh Chodesh. Unlike Pesach, when there are many relevant readings from which to choose, there really isn't much that pertains to Sukkos. And so the reading for each day comes from the korban of the day at the end of Parshas Pinechas. Since each day had a different arrangement of the korbanos, the reading actually differs each day. However, the section for each day is only long enough for one aliyah. The minhag in Eretz Yisroel is therefore to read the exact same pesukim four times over.
 
    In the Diaspora, things are slightly more complicated because of "sfeika deyoma." Although on the first day of Chol HaMoed, for example, it is clearly the third day of Sukkos, because we traditionally entertain the notion that we are a day behind, the korbanos for the second day of Sukkos are also relevant. Thus, we have some debate (OC 663) as to how to proceed. The Shulchan Aruch states that on the first day of Chol HaMoed, the first oleh reads the korbanos pertaining to the second day. The next two both read from the third day. Finally, the fourth oleh reads both. As the Mishnah Berurah explains, this opinion is of the belief that only those two days constitute relevant reading and we are not supposed to read a portion of the Torah which has no relevance to the day.
 
    Ram"a has a different approach. The first oleh reads from the second day, the second reads the third, the third reads the fourth and the fourth reads from the second and third. He is clearly of the opinion that although it is certainly not the fourth day of Sukkos by any calculation, the korbanos of a day in the future constitute relevant reading. This is understandably the practice of Ashkenazic Jews outside of Israel as your machzorim will indicate.
 
    This is all fine until we get to Hoshana Rabba (which is why I started down this path in the first place.) We cannot read a day ahead because the seventh day is the last day of Sukkos. So, writes Ram"a, the first three aliyos are the same as the day before - days five, six and seven. The fourth oleh, however, reads days six and seven (whereas the day before he read five and six.) This is quite puzzling. The reasoning that a day in the future is relevant is difficult enough as it is. But what could possibly be the justification for reading the korbanos of a day that has already passed? Would it not make more sense to revert to the Shulchan Aruch's configuration on Hoshana Rabba and read six, seven, seven, six-seven instead? Unfortunately, I have searched and not found anyone who deals with this. Perhaps, yet again, something to discuss over kreplach.
 
Moadim leSimchah!
 

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