Buying Aravos for Hoshana Rabbah: What a Scam
Posted by Frum From Bathurst
On Hoshana Rabbah, there’s a little custom called “the beating of the aravah,” which is done by taking five branches of the aravos (the same ones we use in the normal 4 minim), and are whacked against the floor five times.
It’s a pretty awesome custom considering you actually get to take something and beat it to the ground an then subsequently practice your quarterbacking skills and hurl them over the Aron Hakodesh. I actually look forward to the whole thing.
Well except for one part: the actual acquiring of said aravos, which is typically done through an unruly transaction with your local shul.
Let’s face it, the prayer services of Hoshana Rabbah are long and demanding enough as it is… It’s pretty much one of longest and most confusing services in all of davening. There’s the shabbos/yom tov pesukei d’zimrah, back to the normal kriyat shema blessings, a yaleh ve’yavoh shomeh esreh, full hallel, the really really really long procession of hoshanos – where paying attention is at an extreme premium (both at your siddur/hoshanos pamphlet and to the area around you), the shabbos/yom tov torah reading (with ein kamocha, thirteen attributes of mercy etc, back to normal ashrei and Uva LTzion, than Chol Hamoed Mussaf (which is long as it is), Ein Kelokeinu & Peetom Haketores and L’David). Chances are you’re gonna be in shul for almost 2 hours, depending on the speed of baal tefillah.
So you’d like to think, having devoted and given so much of your time and energy to the shul and G-d that there would at least be a set of complimentary aravos waiting for you, because you deserve a break.
Nope. Time and energy isn’t enough. Money is required too.
And most likely you aren’t even expecting to have to take out your wallet during davening, let alone actually have the change or bills to make a purchase. It’s like going to a mikvah: All you wanna do is accomplish a nice mitzvah without no frills or strings attached, but nope… you have to give money to do so. Because you know… shuls can’t support themselves, regardless if the shul racks maybe $50-150/200 dollars from the aravos… realistically speaking, how much of a difference does that make?)
And going back to them mikveh: I guess if you have to pay money for it and since it is a mitzvah deoraisah, then kal vechomer, even more so you should you have to pay for aravos – a mitzvah d’rabbanan, or just a stam halachah/minhag.
Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I’m just cheap…
Maybe I just wish I could know a place to find my own aravos than have to shell out money for them.
I mean come on… it’s not like they have to call up Monsey or California for all those aravos… the shuls must get them from somewhere local… (Light bulb…)
And so, after initiating some common sense I decided to go on my own search for a local willow tree to save me some money, and perhaps find even better aravos…
While I don’t know too many public locations of where to find a willow tree in Toronto/Thornhill, I did manage to find one tree at a place quite familiar to Thornhill Jews: Centre Street Pond.
On the northeast corner of the pond, you’ll find a massive willow tree just waiting for you to come take it’s branches, thus giving the tree the schus of providing Jews the ability to do mitzvahs (and thus also bringing an tikkun hagilgul to the tree, enabling it to come back to earth as Jew or go to Olam Habah…)
So… if you’re a Toronto/Thornhill Jew who’s sick of forking over cash for branches, just hit up everyone’s favourite Tashlich location for your own convenience to do mitzvos.
And hey… chances are you’ll probably run into the dude picking up aravos for your shul. Just avoid making eye contact, hence to avoid the annoyed glare from that dude who’s pissed off that you found a way to beat the system.