Thursday, September 05, 2013

L'shanah tovah!

No, I am not Jewish, but they have some lovely traditions and rituals that fit well within my spiritual practice.

Rosh Hashanah, which is the Jewish New Year, began at sundown last night and it usually occurs with the New Moon in September or early October. They blow the Ram's Horn (shofar) eat apples & honey & sweet challah bread to symbolize the wish a sweet new year, and unlike our celebrations on December 31st, Rosh Hashanah is a holy time of self-reflection.

One of the rituals they have is called Tashlikh, which means to cast off, and it is traditionally a ritual to symbolically "cast off" one's sins of the past year by throwing breadcrumbs into a river. In the spirit of introspection, some Jews make lists of the sins they wish to cast off, but one anecdote I found really hit home for me.

The author & a friend had been bothered by the thought of listing out all the ways they "hadn't measured up to some standard set by this judgmental and punishing God." So they dug deeper and discovered the word shalechet which came from the same root and refers to the leaves that fall from the trees in autumn. They decided to use the Tashlikh ritual to see their growth in the past year, and to cast off the old, dried up pieces that no longer served them.

She said, "It is not about how I have sinned. Instead I imagine a large oak tree and visualize old and dried leaves being blown by the wind, carrying these pieces of me that no longer nourish me." (By Janice Rous, Personal Reflections on Teshuvah (Repentance) and Tashlich (Casting Away) at ritualwell)

I also found this prayer, that seems to sum up how I see the ritual....

A Prayer for Tashlich
Shared by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat at ritualwell

Here I am again
ready to let go of my mistakes.

Help me to release myself
from all the ways I've missed the mark.

Help me to stop carrying
the karmic baggage of my poor choices.

As I cast this bread upon the waters
Lift my troubles off my shoulders.

Help me to know that last year is over,
washed away like crumbs in the current.

Open my heart to blessing and gratitude
Renew my soul as the dew renews the grasses.

And we say together:

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