Seven long weeks ago, we opened the month of Elul with the sound of the shofar; this morning we ushered out the period of repentance by walking seven circles and beating willow branches against the floor. Today is the last day to ask for forgiveness, a subtle reflection of Yom Kippur, when we acknowledge for a final time this season the fragility of our lives:
קול מבשר, מבשר ואומר
Qol mevasser, mevasser ve-omer.
The voice of the prophet rings out, proclaiming good news of peace and deliverance
As the leaves fall off the beaten willow branches, we listen closely for that prophetic voice, heralding the return to normalcy and the end of the holidays. The lulav and etrog are no longer holy ritual objects; they return to being a fragrant citrus fruit and bunches of leaves. So too do we return to our normal selves, restoring the routine working and learning, of loving and toiling, of six mundane days and then Shabbat.
All that remains now is the joy of celebrating with the Torah as we roll her back to the beginning, and the cycle is complete. Hag sameah!
(And, utilizing the electronic "Hoshana Rabba extension," if there is anything I might have done to hurt a reader of this blog in the past year, intentionally or unintentionally, will you forgive me?)