King David writes in Psalms, “Out of the narrows of distress I called upon God, God answered me with liberation.” With these words we introduce the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah.
With these same words we metaphorically cast our sins, represented by bread crumbs, into fresh waters during Tashlich. Tashlich is generally performed in the afternoon on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. However, Tashliach can still be performed all the way until Hoshanah Rabba, which, according to Kabbalah, is the last opportunity for repentance.
The custom of Tashlich is based on the words of the prophet Micah, “And You shall cast all their sins into the depths of the sea,” and is practiced in most Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities around the world.
Why do Tashlich? Tashlich is a way to unlock two of the spiritual missions of Rosh Hashanah: that our sins to be washed away so we can begin anew, and that we can conquer our shortcomings and make real change in the year to come.
The Me’am Loaz, an 18th century Ladino commentary, points out “Just as King David did not despair of redemption, we are not to give up hope even in the midst of the most terrible distress.”
When I perform Tashlich, standing by living water and in the presence of God, I pour my heart out and ask God to wash away the barriers to spiritual and personal growth. I ask God to liberate me from all the bad traits and habits which got me into trouble this past year — those things which lead me away from my true mission in life.
No doubt, we all have something from this last year that we need God’s help to cleanse.
After I meditate on that for a while, I repeat once more the words of King David, “Out of the narrows of distress I called upon God, God answered me with liberation.”
Three great Tashlich Services in LA
Join JConnectLA for Sunset Tashlich By The Sea, October 2 at 6pm, Santa Monica Pier. Free
Nashuva- Tashlich By The Sea, September 29th, 4:45pm, 1 North Venice Blvd, Venice. Free
Down to the River - Sat, Oct 1, A high holy days experience, 5:30PM at Marsh Park in Elysian Valley $40