One of the traditions for Rosh Hashanah is the tashlich service. During this ritual we symbolically cast away our baggage, sins etc by tossing pieces of bread onto a natural body of water. Not sure about this but I, Captain Obvious have noted the similarity between the requirements of mikvah water, the immersion bath used by more observant Jews and converts to Judaism to obtain ritual purity and water we’re instructed to cast sins on. It all has to be natural and flowing. Which can make for some cold baths in the winter mind you.
I’m not sure if there is a connection or not, but you know I’m thinking about it and now you are too.
The St. Paul Synagoge where I attend does their service on the banks of the not-so-mighty Mississippi River in St. Paul. While a decent sized river in St. Paul, it’s nothing compared to what you get down in St. Louis. We go down the river in the afternoon, this year there were a maybe a hundred or so, enjoy the outing, there’s a Shofar blowing worksop. This is a value add on ritual mind you not prescribed in the Torah or Talmud. 20 newbies blowing on a rams horn is an interesting sound and has the effect of clearing the park of non-participants. Sort of. I’d love to show you the video I shot but the girl blowing the shofar is a minor and I wasn’t about to get a release from her folks.
You’ll have to get the idea from this, minors obscured.
Remember that this time of the year the Shofar is a wake up call, a spiritual alarm clock to get yo’self right. 20 of them sounding off, not only stirs the soul of we Jews, it stirs the souls of all of those around us plus the assorted duck and moose.
After a blast and a few prayers we headed down the boat ramp for the big toss. The Hmong guys fishing on the landing were quite impressed, at least I thought they were given the photos and exited phone calls they were making. Jews in the wild is a rare sight. The Rabbi said two of the most profound things I’ve heard a Rabbi say in a long time.
“Toss your sins and your baggage into the river where they’ll be carried down to New Orleans. Not that New Orleans needs more of this stuff but hey, it’s what we got.” True dat.
and “As you quietly toss your bread think about the things you want to be rid off, feelings, grudges and try to make this into a spiritual exercise instead of a throwing stuff into the river exercise.” There were a lot of kids there and there was a lot of rocks preceding the bread. And had we stayed a bit longer I’m pretty sure a sibling or two would have been tossed in after the bread. Glad I thought twice about bringing Giggs, he embarrassed me when he was younger by wading into the river and eating the bread that was floating down. Not sure what the rules are about having a pooch eat your symbolic baggage, halacha doesn’t cover it. But, I’m pretty sure, now that I think about it, that that just might be the reason he’s such crabby shit today. Full of demons and bad bread.
My own experience this year was one of thinking about this past year, not one of my finest. As I tossed the little pieces of bead for the things I wanted to get rid I realized fast that I had run out of bread. Shoulda brought a whole loaf. Or Two. But I was assured that it’s symbolic and one piece would do it. If not, that’s what therapy is for and better luck next year.
Truth be told it all worked out. I find this little ritual cathartic. I come away feeling just a wee bit like a thing or two has been lifted from my shoulders. Honestly I’d like to try the scapegoat ritual sometime but goats are expensive and given my time managing a herd of them when I was in high school, I’m sure I’d be cursed with the goat that would follow me around for the rest of the year.
Wanna see Sank spit milk all over the table.. been done. Serve him goat milk.
Tastes like they smell and that’s one piece of baggage I’ll never shed.