Monday, October 01, 2007

Festival Notes 3: Why Tashlikh?

We didn't participate in the Tashlikh or Tashlich tradition this year because we didn't really get it, it was late at night, I'm lazy, and I had heard there is some thought that it came from pagan practices. So now I'm doing my research.

  • Translation: "casting off"
  • Biblical name: it is not present in the bible
  • Reference: Micah 7:18-20
  • Jewish Date: Tishri 1 (7th month)*
  • Gregorian Date (2008): September 30 [from]
  • Sabbath? not applicable (this isn't a festival, but a tradition during a festival)
  • Festival Traditions:
    • Throw breadcrumbs into water

This isn't a festival, just an activity or rite that has become a tradition during Rosh HaShanah. As far as anyone knows, it didn't show up until the Middle Ages. It is not a biblical command, but was apparently derived from this verse:

(B)Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
(C) for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
(E) he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
(F)[a] You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
(H) as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.
Micah 7:18-20

Here is the brief description from Wikipedia, "Tashlikh (Hebrew: תשליך, meaning "casting off") is a long-standing Jewish practice performed on the afternoon of Rosh HaShanah. The previous year's sins are symbolically "cast off" by throwing pieces of bread, or a similar food item, into a large, natural body of flowing water."

The issues people have with it apparently come from the Kabbalistic practice of shaking off the hem of your clothes to shake off any clinging demons. Again according to Wikipedia, people who did not agree with Kabbalistic things were concerned that the general public would think that you really got out of your sins by shaking off the demons, and not from repentance (and I would add "and the atoning work of Yeshua"). I could see that happening. Thankfully we know Yeshua shook them off for us and took the keys! We'll have to pray about whether or not we take part in it next year.

Another site mentions that it was a pagan practice to appease the gods of water by throwing gifts into them. That would also explain why the leadership was concerned that those around them who had pagan backgrounds would think the bread throwing was enough to get off the hook.

I couldn't find anything on First Fruits of Zion's site, but I did find an article on one of their writers sites. I appreciate his explaination of it from a Messianic perspective:
"As followers of Yeshua, and those who have come to believe that only through His death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession as our High Priest can sins be atoned, we realize in the ritual of Tashlich that it is God’s work, not ours. Surely we are required to repent, but even this is given to us by His gracious hand (cf. Acts 5:31; 2Tim. 2:25). Thus the ritual of Tashlich is yet one more tangible expression of our faith, that our own sin, which would condemn us before the bar of God’s unflinching justice, is entirely and forever removed from us through the gracious and sovereign work of God’s cleansing through sacrifice and life of Yeshua."(To Tashlich or Not to Tashlich?)

And he puts the need to research the origins of a tradition so well:
"Some have claimed that this is the case, and that Tashlich, like much of Christmas and Easter, partakes of a syncretism that mixes things that essentially differ. Such a warning is valid: if, indeed, the Tashlich ritual is simply a reworking of a pagan ritual, then we should divest ourselves of it. God has given us His ways of worship—we don’t need to borrow anything from the world of the demons." (emphasis mine)
His conclusion? There isn't enough proof to link it to pagan origins.

My conclusion? Still need to pray and talk to my Favorite.