Nizakher Venikatev: A Reflective Guide for Tashlikh
On the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, we symbolically cast off our sins in a ritual known as tashlikh. Sprinkling crumbs into a body of water, we let the tide carry away the mistakes of the last year, letting go of that which we have repented for.
Is there a regret or mistake from the past year that you are struggling to let go of? What might you need in order to untether yourself from this misstep?
Some communities empty out their pockets, rather than casting bread, over a river or pond. Which embodied metaphor—sprinkling out crumbs or cleaning out our seams—feels more resonant with your experience of teshuva? Why?
Water is often the site of absolution or purification in Jewish ritual—during tashlikh, in a mikveh, or hand washing before eating challah. What other roles has water played in your spiritual life?
Draw or paint your ideal place to perform tashlikh: It is a lake, or a beach? Are you with many people, or all alone? What is the weather like there?
What does an embodied ritual accomplish that prayer alone cannot do?
Often we bring to tashlikh more than just the emotional weight of our own misdeeds. What other parts of this year do you wish to cast off? What difficult experiences are you holding onto to take into the New Year for continued learning?
In your experience, is it harder to forgive others, or to forgive yourself?
Both the name and the practice of tashlikh refer back to a verse from the prophet Micah, verse 7:19: “You [God] will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” Like our emulation of God’s rest on Shabbat, tashlikh has us acting imitatio dei by casting our own sins symbolically into the water. Imagine a Divine tashlikh—what would be different if God was performing the ritual?
What do we do with regrets that we can’t seem to let go of?
Was there ever a time that you made a mistake, but you were offered a “do-over?” Describe what happened.