Your Self-Guided Tashlikh Ritual
-Identify some natural found objects and bring them to the waters’ edge. The most common and symbolic object to traditionally cast away is a piece of bread; which our ancestors hoped fish would come and swallow, just as Jonah was swallowed by the whale. But in recent years, we have become increasingly committed to minimal impact on our environment, so we now invite you find a stick, piece of seaweed or small stone to cast into the water.
-Take a breath. Reflect on the year that has passed and what you are ready to cast away. Then chuck that seaweed into the ocean, as far away from you as you possibly can. (Luckily social distancing means you won’t accidentally hit someone with it.)
-And in the spirit of our annual IKAR Green Action Pre-Tashlikh Beach Clean-up, please safely pick up a few pieces of trash to leave the beach cleaner than we found it.
Kavvanah: What is Tashlikh, Anyway?
Tashlikh is a Hebrew word that means, “cast away.” It’s in the command form, as if speaking directly to us: “Hey you! Cast away…!” But cast away what? Well, our sins, ostensibly – if we look back to the verse from which the ceremony takes its inspiration: “And You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)
And yet, this is a strange ritual for getting rid of our sins. Is it really so easy just to throw off old behaviors? And anyway, in the actual verse, it’s God who will cast away our sins, not us. Truly perplexing.
So maybe this ritual is less about active purging and more about simply letting go. Maybe what we are practicing is the willingness to be free of the bad habits and decisions we regret, and readying ourselves for some force beyond us, like a crashing wave, to come down and wash over us, and leave us feeling clean, revitalized, and liberated.
May this year bring a sense of hopeful renewal to all of us.