Tashlikh

A Rosh Hashanah ritual for the whole family.

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tashlich

Water was also seen as symbolic of the creation of the world and of all life. Kings of Israel were crowned near springs, suggesting continuity, like the King of Kings' unending sovereignty. Since the prophets Ezekiel and Daniel each received revelation near a body of water, it was seen as a place to find God's presence. As the element of purification, water also represents the opportunity to cleanse the body and soul and take a new course in our lives. (Later rabbis continued to protest against the ritual, on grounds that it encouraged new sins by creating a social situation where people could gossip and men and women mingle, as Isaac Bashevis Singer's story "Tashlikh" illustrates.)

Although the rabbis preferred that tashlikh be done at a body of water containing fish (man cannot escape God's judgment any more than fish can escape being caught in a net; we are just as likely to be ensnared and trapped at any moment as is a fish), since this is, after all, a symbolic ceremony, any body of water will do, even water running out of a hose or a faucet.

If the first day of Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbat, Ashkenazim [Jews of European descent] do tashlikh the second day (so as not to carry prayer books to the water, which would violate Sabbath laws). Sephardim [Jews of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern descent] perform the ritual even on the Sabbath [as do a number of liberal Jews]. The ceremony can take place anytime during the holiday season through Hoshanah Rabbah at the end of Sukkot.

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Lesli Koppelman Ross is a writer and artist whose works have appeared nationally. She has devoted much of her time to the causes of Ethiopian Jewry and Jewish education.