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Little Kippur

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Topic: Erev Rosh Chodesh

W. Mann from Australia wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

As I am of the opinion that Hoshana Rabbah was known as Yom Kippur Katan in parts of pre-war Eastern Europe, could you please confirm this? Looking forward to a prompt reply.

Dear W. Mann,

Yom Kippur Katan ("Little Yom Kippur") commonly refers to the day before Rosh Chodesh, as many use the beginning of a new month for introspection and repentance.

I've never heard the phrase Yom Kippur Katan applied to Hoshana Rabbah; however, such usage is readily understood: Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Succot, is in some ways a mini Yom Kippur. In the Midrash, G-d says to Abraham, "I will give your descendants a special day for forgiveness: Hoshana Rabbah. If they are not forgiven on Rosh Hashana then let them try Yom Kippur; if not, then Hoshana Rabbah." Some of the Hoshana Rabbah prayers are similar to those of Yom Kippur in both text and melody.

On Hoshana Rabbah some people wish each other "pitka tava," which basically means "a good ticket." This refers to the idea that the final sealing of a person's yearly judgment occurs on Hoshana Rabbah. Rabbi Yeshaya Horowitz, author of Shelah (Shnei Luchot Habrit) compares the ten days between Yom Kippur and Hoshana Rabbah to the Ten Days of Repentance.


  • Shnei Luchot Habrit, Succah 70

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