Friday, September 30, 2011
THE END OF SINS
Yesterday was the day to experience my second Tashlich. Although last year my bread crumbs turned out to be superfluous, I went armed again this year, just in case I was lucky enough to be able to actually cast them in some water.
And I learned a couple of things, too. The rabbi said Tashlich is more a custom than a proscribed ritual. It's use has always been to help Jews focus on identifying those areas of their life where they might need (or want) some changes - sins, so to speak. The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is set aside for this reflection. I also learned that observances can be very different, and in yesterday's case, the fact that there were dozens of people participating gives a very different perspective than when hundreds are participating. Either way, however, it is up to the individual to make the event personal or impersonal.
The rabbi passed out a paper with a simple responsive reading on it. At temple on Yom Kippur there is a congregational confession of sins, read from the Prayer Book that gives a list of sins from A to Z, literally. But in the paper Rabbi passed out yesterday there was a simple rendering of types of sin, simple but still broad enough to get one to thinking how that applies to them. One in particular that struck me (a sure sign of needing some breadcrumb- throwing) was of holding on to envy of things you don't have, while forgetting to count the blessings you do have.
Along with the short readings, the cantor and his guitar led our small group in some songs, all familiar to the regular attendees but of course totally unfamiliar to me, although even if I had known them my vocal cords no longer are amenable to musical sounds, much to my sorrow. At the conclusion of the short service, Rabbi suggested we take our bread crumbs (most everybody had brought their own) and walk to the water, keeping in mind that as the bible verse from Ezekiel shown on the paper says we are to cast away the transgressions and create in ourselves a new spirit.
The nice thing about this service is that except for the kids, who were very intent on feeding bread to the ducks, (which of course you would expect), we all did stake out a little spot near the pond and symbolically deal with our sins.
And before we left the little Tashlich service, we enjoyed a few more songs, again in Hebrew, and then the Rabbi asked the Cantor to play Pete Seeger's very uplifting song, "I've Got A Hammer" and we all joined in. Tashlich observance was closed on this note. The Rabbi was happy, those sitting in a beautiful park in a mini-congregation were happy, the little kids were happy, and I think the ducks were especially happy.