All faiths have a build in method for which the members of the faith confess and absolve themselves of their sins and their mistakes.
In Judaism, the High Holidays is not only the beginning of the Jewish New Year. It is a time to review what has has transpired in the past year, accept that we have made mistakes and make the promise to hopefully learn from those mistakes.
Regular readers of this blog know that I am not particularly religious. But as I have gotten older and I have grappled daily with depression, I have come to appreciate the mental health aspects of the High Holidays.
The Tashlich service is simpler than Rosh Hashanah, but in my mind, just as important. To make a long story short, it is a ceremony in which prayers are made and bread is thrown into a open body of water, simulating the throwing one sin’s away.
As I completed Tashlich yesterday. I felt a sense of relief. My least favorite (if there is one to be had) aspect of depression is the constant reminder and regurgitation of past mistakes. Though I will never be free of these mistakes, Tashlich provided the opportunity for the emotional release of the errors from the past year, if only temporarily.
On Tuesday, Yom Kippur begins. It is an intense 25 hours of prayer and fasting. To say that it is not easy is an understatement. At a certain point in the day, it is mind over matter. But it is worth it. The emotional freedom that comes with completing Yom Kippur is akin to a weight being lifted off one shoulders. For a moment, it is as if my depression does not exist. But I know that the moment will pass and my depression will come back as it always does.
For those who celebrate, have an easy fast and may you be written in the book of life for the coming year.
No human being is without flaws or imperfections. Though many of us try to mask these flaws or imperfections, they often bubble up the surface.
One of the aspects of Judaism that I appreciate is that my faith not only respects this aspect of humanity, but it encourages us to become better people.
I find that the most liberating Jewish traditions is Tashlich. In the days in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, many Jews will go to a body of water to cast away their sins via throwing pieces of bread into said water. While this is being done, those in attendance ask the heavenly creator to forgive them for their sins from the past year.
Following Tashlich is Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. From sundown to sundown, most adults (with the exception of the people who are sick, need food or drink to take medicine or pregnant women/nursing mothers) will fast. We also wear white and forgo leather shoes so our creator will see how humble we are before them.
Though I am not religious, I understand the power of both Tashlich and Yom Kippur. One of the hardest things any person can do is take a hard look at the flaws/imperfections and ask for forgiveness for anything they might said or done wrong due to those flaws/imperfections.
To all who are fasting, may you have an easy fast and a sweet New Year.
Between the holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Jews are asked to examine their deeds from the past year, both good and bad and atone for the sins from the year that has just passed. The ritual for atoning for your sins is called Tashlich.
Jews atone for their sins by going to an open body of water, praying and throwing out bits of bread. The bread is the physical symbol of the sins that we committed during the past year.
The beauty and emotional freedom of Tashlich comes from the throwing away the sins. It is as if the weight of those sins have been lifted from our shoulders and we can start again. Tashlich for me, is the most personal of the High Holidays. It is as if G-d is our therapist and we are opening up about what we did wrong during the past year. It is a one on one conversation with the heavenly creator that is not the easiest conversation to have, but it must be done.
The beauty of my religion and the relationship with my heavenly parent is that it is implicitly understood that human beings are imperfect and will make mistakes. But we can also forgive each other, receive forgiveness from G-d and start fresh.
No one wants to be burdened with their sins for the rest of their days. Just as every day is an opportunity to make a fresh start, Tashlich allows Jews to begin again in the new year.
Have a nice Sunday and may we all have the opportunity to start again.
Tonight, Jews around the world will begin the holiday of Rosh Hashanah. In English, the days are referred to as Days Of Awe.
For the next two days, we pray to G-d to forgive our sins (and ask our fellow mortals to forgive our sins against them) and to write us in the book of life for the next year.
For many Jews who are not regularly observant, the next two days and Yom Kippur (which occurs next week) are equivalent to a student who does nothing all semester, then suddenly crams like there is no tomorrow for the final.
For me personally, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are more than days off. It is a chance to not just reconnect with my tradition, but to recharge away from the craziness that is life. These days allow me to look back at where I was last year at this time, what mistakes I made and how I can learn from those mistakes.
In between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is a ritual called Tashlich. In essence, Tashlich is when we symbolically cleanse ourselves of our sins of the past year by throwing bread into an open body of water. For me, it is the most personal part of the holiday. It is as if I have a personal line to G-d and I am receiving a one on one session where I am confessing my sins. After completing Tashlich, I always have a lightness of being that I did not have before.
L’Shana Tova and Happy New Year to those who celebrate.