click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Tashlich's Subtle Message

Tashlich's Subtle Message

The antidote to wallowing in self pity.


The yearly tradition begs the question, what's up with Tashlich? We go out to a river, lake or pond and say a brief prayer followed by the token "throwing in of our sins." The kids accumulate stale bread for weeks to be able to have lots of ‘sins' to throw in. Kind of strange if you think about it. Judaism isn't about symbols and rituals; it's a lot deeper than that.

The answer is very simple yet so refreshing. Man is good. Man is beautiful. Man is extraordinary. At the very essence, the human being is pure and holy. Created in God's image with the capacity to soar to the heights of Godliness, we aren't sinners, but rather we sin.

Unfortunately, throughout the travails and temptations of daily life, we ‘acquire' many sins and transgressions. They come to us in times of despair or acts of arrogance. We purchase them in fits of anger or digest them in moments of weaknesses. We might own them. We might carry them. And we might even relish some of them. But they never become us. They never become who we are. And they definitely aren't what we really want to be.

They are always a separate entity that can be disowned, disavowed and cast away at any time. The symbolic act of throwing away our sins brings that message home in a dramatic, concrete manner.

Tashlich is the biggest antidote to wallowing in self pity. When we think about our habits we throw up our hands in the air and tell ourselves, "It's been years! There's no way I can change now." Or "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Tashlich teaches us otherwise. Yes we can change. We can improve because we are at our core holy and pure -- a spark of the divine.

The good struggle is to scrub away that superficial coating of sin. Scrape away the cynicism, repudiate the negativism and snap out of our disenchantment. As long as we can grasp the immeasurable greatness and potential of our souls, then nothing can stop us. If we would only begin to comprehend that the love God has for us is unfathomable and limitless, then and only then, can we truly begin our journey to complete and credible repentance.

September 13, 2009

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 13

(13) Anonymous, September 25, 2011 4:39 PM

if we are throwing away figuratively our sins and create a ceremony of throwing it away ,why not throw it in the garbage so no one will have access to it or maybe just burn it like the chometz.

(12) Richard, September 19, 2011 8:55 AM

Such a beautiful insight about Tashlich! Thank you Aish Hatorah.

This is so beautifully explained. Yes, we have done Tashlich carefully every year since we are children. Yes, we say all the verses and prayers carefully. Indeed, we are happy to see all sorts of people flocking to the river banks to do the same and we appreciate the way that this custom, which is not even mentioned in the Torah, has been so strongly preserved amongst our people. With this explanation that Aish has given, one can see even better the beauty of the customs that we have grown to live with. Let us hope and pray that we will all be fortunate enough to cast off all the influences of sin and the act of doing Tashlich should be a great merit for all of the Jewish people and we should see the final Redemption and coming of Moshiach ALL TOGETHER as one fine nation, very soon. Lshono Tova Tikosevu Veseychoseymu.

(11) yechezkel moishe rosenfeld, September 23, 2009 3:23 AM

thanks for the inspiring message. gut yur

(10) Anonymous, September 19, 2009 10:23 PM

Thank You

If my soul ever needed a message such as this, NOW is the time. Your beautiful message is a contradiction to sadness, pain and self-flagellation.

(9) Anonymous, September 17, 2009 4:20 PM


I disagree with your premise despite the fact that it is the reason we do tashlich. You would be a fool to think that there is no such thing as someone who is a sinner and that there are just people who sin. People like Bernie Madoff are not people who are "beautiful but sin occasionally." This guy was a lifelong sinner! get your facts straight. On another note, have a happy healthy new year!

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment