From ancient byways to modern highways, glimpses of faith are everywhere...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tashlikh: Casting off sins

(Photo by Tiago Fioreze)
The famous saying from Ecclesiastes, "cast your bread upon the waters," has been interpreted in many different ways.  Some say that it means to give generously of your wealth - others theorize that it's just another way of saying "nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Casting sins upon the waters is a whole other matter.  The prophet Micah (Micah 7:18-20) stated the following:  Who is a G-d like you? You forgive sins and overlook transgressions for the survivors of your People;  He does not retain His anger forever, for He loves Kindness; He will return and show us mercy, and overcome our sins, And You will cast into the depths of the seas all their sins;  You will show kindness to Yaakov and mercy to Avraham, As You did promise to our fathers of old.

When celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the New Year, Jews take these words of Micah to heart.  They do this by gathering at bodies of water and reciting this passage (along with some of the Psalms).  The custom of throwing crumbs of bread (symbolizing sins) into flowing water is also part of many Rosh Hashanah rituals. tells us that these Tashlich (aka Tashlikh) words are "preferably recited alongside a body of water
containing fish, to remind us that just as fish are protected by the water in which they live, we pray to be protected by G-d."

Wikipedia reports that Tashlikh customs have been traced back to Rabbi Jacob Molin (circa 1425 CE).  In ancient times, the historian Josephus referred to Jews having "their places of prayer by the sea, according to
the customs of their forefathers."   


Copyright September 16, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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