A Guided Personal Tashlich

By: Rabbi Ora Nitkin-Kaner

The guided meditation above is based on Tashlich; you can use it as an alternative to an outdoors Tashlich or to enhance the ritual.

Last year for Tashlich, we gathered at Mallett’s Creek on Rosh Hashanah afternoon. We were blessed with a warm autumn late-afternoon sun, and we stood for a long time on the bridge over the creek, singing together: ‘Loosen, loosen baby. You don’t have to carry the weight of the world in your muscles and bones. Let go, let go, let go. Holy breath and Holy Name: will you ease, will you ease this pain.’ 

God-willing, next year we’ll gather and sing together as a community again. For this year, we’re offering a guided personal Tashlich ritual to do on your own, with family, or with friends—please just take care to be COVID-safe.

How to do Tashlich this year:

1. Look for a natural body of water that you can access easily. Tashlich is an invitation to cast our sins away into a body of water like a river, spring, lake, pond, or well. Most people prefer natural, flowing bodies of water because it gives the effect of our past deeds being swept away by the current. If you don’t live near a natural body of water or can’t manage to get to one, you can use running water from a hose or faucet. 

2. Try performing Tashlich on Rosh Hashanah. Tashlich is supposed to be performed on the first or second day of Rosh Hashanah. If, however, you’re unable to perform the ceremony on Rosh Hashanah, Tashlich can be done any day during the Days of Awe until Yom Kippur

3. Examine what you’ve struggled with in the past year before doing Tashlich. Tashlich requires that we review our behavior over the last year before we can cast away our deeds. Remember that everyone struggles with mistakes, misdeeds, and accidents, so don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself during this period of review. Keep in mind, however, that the goal of Tashlich is to move forward in the year, rather than to dwell on the past.

4. Collect your “sins” in your pockets. We have provided you with seeds to act as physical symbols of your sins; seeds are safer than bread for the wildlife that live in nearby creeks. Although some people discourage tossing actual items because it stems from superstitious practices, it can be helpful, especially for young people, to visualize our misdeeds being carried away by the water.

5. Walk to the body of water or basin. As you do, try singing, if it feels appropriate. Here are some possibilities (click on the links to hear the songs):

  1. Eili, Eili: Eili, Eili shelo yigameri l’olam. Hachol v’hayam, rishrush shel hamayim, b’rak hashamayim, t’filat ha-adam.
  2. Hashiveini: Hashiveini, ve’ashuvah x2 Chadeish, chadeish, chadeish, yameinu k’kedem x2
  3. Avinu Malkeinu: Avinu malkeinu, choneinu va-aneinu ki ein banu ma-asim. Asei imanu tzedakah vachesed v’hoshi-einu.

6. Read a biblical prayer. The source passage for Tashlich comes from the last verses of the prophet Micah (7:18-20). These verses tell why we practice Tashlich:

7. Cast your sins into the body of water. After your prayer, reach into your pockets and grab the seeds or metaphorical sins, and throw them into the water. Once you let go of them, breathe out and watch them wash away. Only do this when you feel ready. It might take you longer than some other people to prepare for this moment, but don’t feel rushed. 

‘Who is a God like You, Forgiving iniquity and remitting transgression; Who has not maintained wrath forever against the remnant of God’s own people, Because God loves graciousness, God will take us back in love; God will cover up our iniquities, You will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will keep faith with Jacob, loyalty to Abraham, as You promised on oath.’

8. Offer a prayer about your hope for the year. Talk to God out loud about who you are and who you’d like to be in the coming year. If you need help with words, try answering some of these questions:

  • Am I using my time wisely? If not, how can I?
  • How do I want to be there for the people who need me? 
  • What new insights and knowledge do I want to acquire this year?
  • What would it look like to live more fully this coming year?
  • How can I trust more in You, or, how can I more closely align with what is holy in the world?