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Tashlich: the High Holy Day Ritual of Casting Off our Wrongdoings

The Jewish ritual of symbolically “casting off” our wrongdoings from the past year is traditionally done on Rosh Hashanah, though it can be done any time before the end of Sukkot (this year on October 9). For centuries, Jews have gone to bodies of moving water (preferably those contain fish) to throw breadcrumbs or birdseed or acorns into the living water as a physical symbol of letting go of our mistakes of the past year and beginning anew.

First find a body of water! Take a look at our interactive map with local bodies of water. Grab some birdseed (or rice) and head out there. Don’t forget your mask!

Second as you arrive at the water, or maybe on the drive or walk over - examine what you’ve struggled with over the past year. Rosh Hashanah is a period of introspection, and thinking about your mistakes, your sins and your accidents is an important part of this process. Be honest with yourself – you don’t have to tell anyone else about it!

Third think about how you can improve in the coming year. In what ways can you strive to be a better person? What might you resolve to do differently?

Fourth sing, if it feels appropriate. Eili Eili, Hashivenu, Avinu Malkeinu, or any other High Holy Day tune will help you to feel in the introspective mood.

Fifth – take a moment to pray. Talk out loud, or in your head, about your past year and how you plan to do better. Thinking about some of these questions might help focus your thoughts:

              -Am I using my time wisely?

              -Was I there for people who needed me?

              -Did I foster kindness in my relationships with friends and family?

              -Did I live fully? If not, how can I?

Finally – after your individual prayer, reach into your pockets and grab your seeds, and throw them into the water. When you let go of them, breathe out and let them wash away. Do this in your own time, at your own pace. 

 

Another great option - play this tashlich meditation on your smartphone and let it guide you through the ritual. Written by our friend Rabbi Molly Kane with music by renowned Jewish musician Michelle Citrin.

Fri, October 22 2021 16 Cheshvan 5782