The Tashlich Experience

The Tashlich Experience

A “Casting Off” Experience for Families during New Year’s Night

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgressions of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”  (Micah 7:18-19)

Tashlich is a Jewish custom conducted during the first days of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year celebration. Tashlich is a Hebrew word meaning “to cast.” Rosh Hashanah is held on the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, and is traditionally a time of repentance, and of coronating God as King of the Universe. It is a time when we realize God’s omnipotence and compassion, when we repent of our sins and beseech the King to treat us with kindness during the new year.

Tashlich can be both a personal and a family celebration, and is an adventuresome and enjoyable experience in the midst of the sober repentance. Christians will fit right into this ceremony, and can see once again how much we can learn and grow from Jewish experience. Remember, Christianity is a Jewish religion. Christians are children of Abraham.

The Tashlich Experience:

1.  The two traditional Tashlich prayers. At some point during the ceremony, try to read these prayers aloud.

1st Prayer (This is based on the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy, from Exodus 34 and Micah 7):

“Who is a God like you who pardons iniquity and forgives transgression? He does not maintain His wrath forever, for He desires to do kindness. He will again show us mercy, He will suppress our iniquities; and You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Show faithfulness to Jacob, kindness to Abraham, which you have sworn to our fathers from the days of yore.”

2nd Prayer (This is based on a portion of Psalm 118):

From out of distress I called to God; with abounding relief, God answered me. The Lord is with me, I do not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me among my helpers, and I will see the downfall of my enemies. It is better to rely on the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to rely on the Lord than to trust in nobles.”

2. Walk to a place of “living water” (an ocean, river, spring, well, moving water):

a. Make this a fun family adventure: Do this at night, with flashlights;

b. On the way to the water, each person picks up and collects little stones, which will represent mistakes, weak moments in need of forgiveness;

c. If stones are not available, bring some little thing that is sinkable for each person to keep in pockets for the ceremony at the water.

3. At the site of living water:

a. Empty pockets of dirt/lint by pulling inside out, symbolizing those sins that are more hidden, or tend to cling to us and are difficult to cast off;

b. Each person casts stones one at a time into the water, symbolizing their getting rid of any bad decision and being forgiven by God; this is done silently.

c. Each family member should privately try to think of a particular wrongdoing for each stone, if possible, so that the waterside actions are effective in casting off guilt feelings for specific acts in the memory, thus helpful in healing, restoring, purifying the conscience.

4. Read some or all of these Scriptures aloud at the water or at some point in the ceremony:

a. “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever, but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18-19)

b. “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)

c. “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes… You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 118:5-9, 28-29)

d. “We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33:20-22)

e. “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, therefore you are revered. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.” (Psalm 130)

f. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who revere him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who revere him.” (Psalm 103:11-13)

5. Sing songs on your way home (such as):

Gonna lay down my burden, Down by the riverside, (3x)

Gonna throw all my sins away, Down by the riverside (2x)

Gonna know I’m forgiven, Down by the riverside (3x)

Gonna lay down my burden, Down by the riverside (2x)

 

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