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Q&A

Why is "life from confusion" included in the agricultural Hoshana-prayer?

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The theme of the "Adama mei-arer" Hoshana-prayer that we say on Hoshana Rabba appears to be asking God to protect our agriculture. With one possible exception, every element appears to be about the cultivation of plants or animals.

The one possible exception is what I'm curious about. "נֶֽפֶשׁ מִבֶּֽהָלָֽה", translated in Sefaria as "[Save, please,] life from confusion, [save please]", could also be "... people from confusion ..." or "... souls from confusion ..." In any case, I would expect that "confusion" is a malady that we would be especially concerned about in humans, rather than in plants or animals.

Why is this element included in this prayer? Does it actually refer to confusion of animals? Does it refer to some agriculture-caused confusion? Is there some other special association between confusion and agriculture that's expressed here?

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3 comments

Preventing bovine encephalitis? AA ‭ 4 months ago

I would think it is similar to ochel mim'huma which the Artscroll connects to the "confusion and panic caused by the sounds of an attacking army" because then food is scarce. rosends‭ 4 months ago

One of the defining aspects of life is that it reverses entropy -- creates order from chaos. The authors/compilers of the Siddur hadn't studied modern thermodynamics, but I have, and to me the connection seems obvious. (With only 8 years of Day School I'm not learned enough to contribute here but maybe someone can draw on this.) Aliza‭ 3 months ago

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