TASHLICH – on the First Day of Rosh Hashanah

Tashlich, Hebrew “to cast,” refers to the casting away sins usually done on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. This commemoration of the self-sacrifice of Abraham is performed waterside with the reading of special verses. Upon concluding the verses, the corners of one’s clothes are shaken out.

The concept of releasing sins and karma are empowerment of the soul and self. Making a ritual of letting go, admitting mistakes, and making amends gives one freedom. The concept of writing sins and placing into water was introduced to a secular audience in Northern Exposure ages ago.

In Judaism, Prophet Nehemiah (8:1)  states, “All the Jews gathered as one in the street that is in front of the gate of water.”

The custom may draw from:

  • Abraham’s trip to sacrifice his son, Isaac, which took place on Rosh Hashanah. On the journey Satan tried several times to undermine Abraham’s progress- a river materialized and blocked Abraham’s path. Abraham at the point where the water reached his neck prayed to G‑d and the river dried up.
  • Rosh Hashanah is the day when the Jews coronate G‑d as King of the Universe. Jewish kings are anointed next to rivers.
  • G‑d’s mercy in preventing the waters from flooding the dry land. The realization of G‑d’s omnipotence inspires us to repent. Jewish mysticism teaches that water corresponds to the attribute of kindness.
  • Water with fish is optimal. Fish are not subject to the “evil eye” and have many offspring. Fish eyes are always open like an ever aware G-d.

May we all shake ourselves from sin and be signed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good and sweet new year.