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.