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.
Today is Anne Frank’s birthday. One of the millions of Jewish children that were murdered in the Holocaust because they were Jewish, her legacy is that of hope, love and our shared humanity.
Last week I had a very interesting conversation.
I was talking to a friend from my martial arts school who is Muslim and in the middle of celebrating Ramadan. We were comparing the differences between Ramadan and Yom Kippur. While there are some differences between the two holidays, there are is one major similarity: devotion to G-d. Both holidays require fasting, which as anyone who has fasted can tell you it is not easy. What comes with the fasting is believing in and praying to a higher being who I believe is akin to a third parent. While our religious practices and beliefs differ, we still believe in a higher power and we still follow the same ancient traditions that our families have practiced for thousands of years. We were able to have a conversation about our individual religions that was just that.
And now to the reason for this post: the horrific shooting at the nightclub in Orlando. We are all G-d’s children, made in the image of our creator. The only reason the patrons of this nightclub were targeted is because they are gay. My heart breaks for everyone involved. This is not the America that I know, love and believe in. Today I pray for the victims and their families. I also pray for America, that we should learn from this tragedy and get over the b*llsh*t that says we are different due to an accident of birth. We are all human beings and deserve the same respect.
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.