One of my favorite rituals of Rosh Hashanah is the ceremony of Tashlich. On the afternoon of Rosh Hashana, it is customary to go to a flowing body of water, recite prayers and symbolically cast your sins (represented by bread crumbs) into the water. This ritual is echoed in the text of Micah (7:19): You will cast (tashlich) all your sins into the depths of the sea.” By performing tashlich, we demonstrate our hope that G-d will forgive our failings of the past year, and grant us favor in the year to come.
As it should be with ritual, the power of the experience stems from the physicality: The feel of the bread in one’s hands and it’s smell, the sounds of the rushing water and breezes through the trees, and the sight of the crumbs flowing in the water until they get soggy and sink below the surface, or are eaten by a fish or bird. Tashlich can’t be done by proxy; we are each responsible for casting off our own sins.
Tashlich is an opportunity to learn how to let go, to figure out what needs to be released into the water: sins, resentments, remorse, guilt, relationships or behaviors that no longer serve us. That which we send down the river become memories, further away, less painful. When we let go of our past, we can look towards the year ahead, setting our sights on becoming the best version of ourselves.
While tashlich is a personal ritual, we often gather with our family or friends at the water’s edge. Traditionally performed on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, tashlich can be done on any of the days between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur.
Here is a prayer to get you started, or you can use the words of your own heart:
A Prayer for Tashlich
Holy One of Blessing
Here I am again
ready to let go of my mistakes.
Help me to release myself
from all the ways I’ve missed the mark.
Help me to stop carrying
the baggage of my poor choices.
As I cast this bread upon the waters
lift my troubles off my shoulders.
Help me to know that last year is over,
washed away like crumbs in the current.
Open my heart to blessing and gratitude.
Renew my soul as the dew renews the grasses.
L’Shannah Tova! May you and your dear ones be blessed with a good and sweet New Year.
This post has been contributed by a third party. The opinions, facts and any media content are presented solely by the author, and Atlanta Jewish Connector assumes no responsibility for them. Want to add your voice to the conversation? Publish your own post here.