Koheles, Shemini Atzeres, Simchas Torah. So much to understand, in such little time.
In essence, Koheles teaches us the transiency of life, and we then segue into Simchas Torah with the understanding that we are here for Torah study and mitvzah performance. Yet, in between we have Hoshanah Rabbah, where the primary function of the day is banging the Aravah, the willow branch. The Sfas Emes writes that the Aravah has no taste and no smell, and nonetheless we take the Aravah on this holy day and we give it primacy in our service. The reason for this, explains the Sfas Emes, is because the willow branches are referred to as ערבי נחל, willows of the brook. The word נחלה alludes to the idea that the דעת, one’s intellect, is drawn to all areas, even where there is no taste and smell, and this is the highest level. Furthermore, the Sfas Emes writes, the foundation that sustains us in the exile is the feet, i.e. the lowest level.
Thus, according to the Sfas Emes, in preparation for the climax of Sukkos, we first experience Hoshanah Rabbah, where we use the lowly willow branch to attain the highest level of the festival, and which ultimately rectifies our entire tenure in the exile.
HaShem should allow us to merit performing all of His Holy Mitzvos, from low to high, and then we will rejoice in the celebration of the Torah, and we will witness the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, speedily, in our days.
Have a great Shabbos and a Fantastic Yom Tov!