21 Sep TASHLICH
The Custom of Tashlich
We all know that when it comes to Rosh Hashanah there is a custom to go to tashlich and say tefillos there. Those who don’t go then go
during aseres yemi teshuva. Where did this custom come from? What are the reasons for this? Should one go to water? Does one have to go to a river or ocean with fish? Which Days? What Time? Should Women go? All these and other issues will be addressed in this article.
The custom of tashlich is not documented in the earlier sources of the Gemorah, and Shulchan Aruch. The first place where this is brought is in the writings of the Maharil where he states the following: the custom is to go to the river on Rosh Hashanah after the seuda to throwaway to the sea all our sins. There ar e many other seforim which bringthis custom as well.
There are many reasons given for this custom. We will list a few of them: When Avraham was going to the Akeida with Yitzchok the satan wanted to stop him so he made a river in front of him and the water reached his neck he raised his eyes to Hashem and davened. At which point Hashem made the satan go away. Therefore we go to the river on Rosh Hashanah as a remembrance to the akeida (and Hashem will make the satan go away from us as well). Furthermore, since we resemble ourselves by going to the water throwing our sins away.
Spreading of Custom
Although the custom is not mentioned in the common earlier sources, and was not practiced, this custom is practiced today by both Sefradim and Ashkenazim.This custom was not done in the times of the Rama whoseopinion the Ashkenazim follow. The custom of the Gra was not to go to a river and say tashlich. Others say it is possible the Gra said tashlich just not by a river etc.
The question arises when going for tashlich does one have to go to a river with fish or can one go to a pond which only has water. The Rama (and others) says one should go to a place with live fish since it is done to avoid ayin hara and we should multiply like fish. The Matei Moshe (and others) says that we go to a place which has life fish as a semblance that we are compared to fish just as fish are caught in a net rather quickly we too are caught in the net of din and therefore, we will do teshuva and repent. Furthermore, the eyes of the
fish are open and we want Hashem to look at us with open eyes and forgive our sins.
Others say we are comparable to fish since if fish did not have water they would die, without Torah and mitzvos we would die as well.
Where to Go
From the sources mentioned above one should go to rivers or lakes. Others mention that one should go out of the city and there is no difference on the body of water. In many areas if there are no rivers or lakes such as in Yerushalayim many have the custom to go to a pit or even a sink and say tashlich there.
When to Go
The main time for one to do tashlich is on the first day of Rosh Hashanah. Most poskim maintain one goes after mincha before Shekia. The custom is not to be makpid on saying tashlich right before shekia but anytime beforehand as well. However, If one sees that he will not have be able to go after mincha he may go before mincha. Others maintain initially one can go after the meal (which
is before mincha). One of the reasons to go after mincha is that Yitzchok established mincha and on the first day of Rosh Hashanah was when Yitzchok was brought on the akeida. Furthermore, at mincha times is when ones tefillos can be answered more than other tefillos.
Some maintain if one is going on the second day he should go after Mussaf. Others have the custom to go to tashlich as late as Chol Hamoed Succos before Hoshanah Rabbah.
When Rosh Hashanah falls on Shabbos one can go on Shabbos to do tashlich as well, others say that this should not be done (mainly out of a concern of carrying), and if one wants he can go on the second day. The Shevus Yaakov speaks in strong terms that one should go to tashlich on Shabbos.
One who goes on Shabbos should make sure not to carry anything out of the eiruv, or bread etc to throw to the fish.
On the Day When the Thirteen Midos are Said
Many have the custom to go to tashlich on the day that the thirteen midos are recited in a piyut during selichos of aseres yemi teshuva. This is the custom in many circles such as Munkatsh, Vihsnitz, Bobov, Skever and others.The reason for not going on Rosh Hashanah is due to the length of the davening and the lack of time to go.
Throwing Bread to Fish
When one goes to tashlich on Rosh Hashanah he may not carry along with him bread to throw to the fish.
Shake ends of Garments
The custom of some is to shake off ones corner of his garment which has tzitzis at tashlich, while many others say ones
garment. Some give the reason as an indication of holding one sinsand throwing them away. The Kaf Hachaim says when shaking the garment it should be done over the water. There are differing opinions as to the proper time during the reciting of the tashlich that one should shake his garment.
Women Going to Tashlich
There is a discussion in the poskim whether women should go to the rivers and lakes and do tashlich.
The custom is that women go to do tashlich just as men. However, in some places women tend to go to tashlich and mingle with men. This practice is not advisable on the day where everyone is judged for their actions and was frowned upon by many (even if no men are present). Therefore, if this is being done this should be stopped and women should not go to these places.Others say that even if men are present the fear of judgment of the day will avoid any issues.
When one recites tashlich he should have in mind that his sins should be removed.