First day of Rosh HaShana - 1 Tishrei 5766 ē Tuesday, October
NOTE: The hard copy of TT contains the full text in Hebrew
What it isn't &
what it is
Tashlich is NOT a hocus-pocus magical method for ridding oneself
of sins. It just isn't that simple. One must do sincere T'shuva,
pray to HaShem, say Vidui, and if interpersonal sins are
involved (which they inevitably are), one must appease those
he/she has wronged and receive their forgiveness before T'shuva
can succeed. One cannot go to the water side, say some písukim,
throw some crumbs into the water (a practice which poskim frown
upon, by the way), and walk away with a clean slate - without
some hard, real repentance. In fact, there have been rabbanim in
previous generations who have banned Tashlich in their
communities so that people should not slacken off from the major
challenges of the Yamim Nora'im - T'shuva and Prayer.
There are other
authorities who did not mention the custom of Tashlich in their
writings at all, since it does not appear in the Talmud or other
early sources. For example, the Vilna Gaon's practice was/is not
to do Tashlich.
Yet Tashlich is a
wide-spread minhag in most Jewish communities around the world.
If it is difficult
to go to Tashlich on Rosh HaShana, or for some reason one wasn't
able to do so, it may be said during Aseret Y'mei T'shuva, or
afterwards until (and including) Hoshana Rabba.
The lead passage of
Tashlich gives us the origin of its name, and probably the main
origin of the custom itself. The second pasuk (Micha 7:19)
speaks of G-d, in His mercy, "casting our sins into the depths
of the sea". This is our T'shuva goal - to repent so sincerely,
that G-d will erase our sins completely.
Kings of Israel
were anointed by the riverside. Water is the symbol of life, of
Torah, and of continuity. On Rosh HaShana, when we celebrate the
coronation of the King of Kings, we go to the river (or other
body of water) as a reminder of this theme of the day.
The Midrash tells
us that the Satan received G-d's permission to try to dissuade
Avraham Avinu from going to Har HaMoriah to sacrifice Yitzchak.
He placed a river
in Avraham's way, but Avraham was so determined to carry out
G-d's command, that he walked right into the water. Nothing
would stop Avraham. The river became a symbol of dedication to
G-d. On Rosh HaShana, the anniversary of the Akeida, we go to
the riverside and "remind" G-d (so to speak), and ourselves, of
the dedication of our forefather Avraham, and to rededicate
ourselves to Torah and mitzvot with that high level of
There is a
kabbalistic analogy drawn between the opening, main p'sukim of
Tashlich, and the Thirteen Divine Attributes. This idea adds to
the significance of the Tashlich recitation, because of the
power of invoking the Yud-Gimel Midot. They are an essential
element in the Slichot and T'shuva process, and are integrally
bound to the Biblical events of the Elul - Rosh HaShana - Yom
The text for
Tashlich varies from machzor to machzor. In this 4-pager, you
will find a bit more text than some, and less than others. It is
appropriate to supplement the regular Tashlich texts with your
own prayers. On Rosh HaShana, when we spend a significant amount
of time in shul davening, we don't say "enough is enough". After
a festive lunch, we go out of our homes to pray between prayers.
But we don't go to the Beit Knesset. Instead, we go to a body of
water, into nature, where G-d's Presence should also be strongly
felt, and we revel in His majesty and recommit ourselves to His
Tashlich starts on
the last page (which becomes the front page as soon as you turn
this folded sheet over). It might sound funny, but "use Tashlich
wisely". Make it a meaningful part of your Rosh HaShana, and let
some of the ideas presented here enrich the experience.
Wishing you and yours a K'Tiva VaChatima Tova
OU Israel Center Torah Tidbits SHOFAR GUIDE
NOTE: The hard copy of TT contains the full text in Hebrew
The first ďsessionĒ of Shofar blowing, which consists of 30
blasts and constitutes the fulfillment
of the Torahís mitzva of Shofar, is done after the reading of
the Torah and Haftara (and Drasha) and
before the Torahs are returned to the Aron.
It is known as the
"sitting-down" blasts, as opposed to the Shofar
blasts during the Amida, although we stand for this set
It is the minhag to
say Tíhilim 47 seven times before Shofar blowing:
The Shofar-blower AND each person listening to the Shofar should
have KAVANA during the BRACHOT to fulfill the mitzva of Shofar,
both the Torah requirements and those of our Sages. One must be
careful to hear the entire BRACHOT without interruption, and to
answer AMEN to each.
It is proper not to talk (other than davening and what is
necessary for davening and Shofar) from the BRACHOT through the
last of the blasts (after the repetition of the Musaf Amida),
but especially until the first set of 30 KOLOT are completed.
Although there are Machzorim that have passages for the KAHAL to
say after each trio of sounds, it is widely accepted for the
KAHAL to remain silent throughout the set of 30 blasts.
The Mitzva to
First and foremost, before any of the themes, symbolisms, and
reminders mentioned in the paragraphs that follow, is the main
reason and kavana for doing ANY mitzva - because G-d commands
it. The phrase L'SHEIM MITZVAT SHOFAR should be on our minds
from the Brachot of the shofar-blower, from the first blast to
The Torah says that
the first day of the seventh month shall be a T'RU'A DAY. We are
taught by the Oral Law that this means that we are to hear the
sound called T'RU'A, which is to be produced by the Shofar.
Furthermore, we are to hear the TíRUíA three times, and that
each TíRUíA is to be preceded by and followed by a P'SHUTA, a
plain, long blast which we call T'KI'A.
We do not know
exactly what our Sages meant the T'RU'A to sound like. It is to
sound like crying, wailing, sobbing, moaning, sighing, or some
combination thereof. To satisfy different opinions, we have two
sounds that we call SH'VARIM and T'RU'A, and the combination of
the two. Therefore, to satisfy the Torah's requirement of
hearing the Shofar on Rosh HaShana, we must hear 3 each of the
T'KI'A | SH'VARIM-T'RU'A | T'KI'A
T'KI'A | SH'VARIM | T'KI'A
T'KI'A | T'RU'A | T'KI'A
Letís refer to this as a Large Set of Blasts (a.k.a. 30 KOLOT).
One of each make a Small Set (a.k.a. 10 KOLOT).
requirement of the Torah will be satisfied with 30 KOLOT (sounds
or blasts), the Sages instituted the practice of sounding the
Shofar during the Amida - linking the Shofar-sounds with each of
the 3 main brachot of Musaf - MALCHIYOT (Kingship), ZICHRONOT
(Remembrances), and SHOFAROT (Shofars). Some shuls blow during
the repetition of the Amida only; others blow during the silent
Amida as well.
And, as is
well-known, the custom is to blow additional blasts (10 or 40,
as the case may be) after the Amida, to bring the total number
of blasts to 100. 100 conveys completeness and fullness. On Rosh
HaShana, we don't just blow the Shofar, we are fully saturated
with the Shofar sounds. This fulfills the sense of "YOMT'RU'A
there shall be for you", more than a lesser number would.
(There is also
another reason given for the 100 blasts, having to do with the
lament of the mother of Sisra, as recorded in the Book of
Symbolisms and Kavanot
(based on Menorat HaMa'or)
Rosh HaShana corresponds to the 6th day of creation, the day
human beings were created. Since it is the day that G-d's
subjects, so to speak, came into existence, it follows that He
became King on that very same day. We therefore consider Rosh
HaShana to be the Coronation Day of the Supreme King. To herald
that event, we sound the royal trumpet - the Shofar. This
concept of G-d's Kingship is one of the major themes of Rosh
HaShana. One of the three central brachot of the Rosh HaShana
Musaf is Malchiyot - Kingship. In that bracha, we quote ten
písukim from Tanach that deal with this theme. The T'KI'A (the
long monotonic, unbroken blast) specifically is associated with
this aspect of Rosh HaShana. The T'KI'A is a happy and proud
sound. Although other emotions claim our attention, one should
be happy and proud on Rosh HaShana as we reaffirm our loyalty to
the King of Kings.
The Shofar is the alarm that (hopefully) wakes people up to the
challenge of doing T'shuva and asking G-d for forgiveness. This
is one of the major aspects of Shofar (and the main reason for
having blown the Shofar throughout Elul). It is the broken
sounds of the SH'VARIM and T'RU'A that most fit this aspect of
Shofar. Shofar is associated with embarking on the road to
Perhaps the most prominent element of Rosh HaShana is the
Binding of Isaac. The choice of a ram's horn as Shofar, the
Torah readings, the main focus of the Zichronot bracha, and
Tashlich, all point to the AKEIDA as a major theme of the day.
When we stand in judgment before G-d, we are not isolated
individuals but are the spiritual heirs of the Avot and Imahot
whose commitment to G-d is exemplified by the Akeida. The
Chafetz Chaim points out that most of the promises of blessing
in the Torah are conditional upon our good behavior. The notable
exception is G-d's promise to Avraham Avinu at the Akeida, which
is unconditional. If our sincerity and commitment to G-d and His
Mitzvot ever comes into question, we need only realize that we
are the descendants of Avraham & Yitzchak and have inherited
from them an absolute and complete dedication to G-d's Word, the
The Torah describes the events of Sinai as being accompanied by
the "sound of the Shofar ever increasing". When we hear the
Shofar (specifically the T'KI'A), we should be motivated to
rededicate ourselves to Torah and mitzvot. In essence, this is
the foundation of T'shuva. The Shofar reminds us of our
commitment to the Torah; repentance is G-d's gift to us when we
fail in that commitment.
The words of the
Prophets are likened to the sound of the Shofar. This reminder
should inspire greater commitment to faithful observance of
Judaism. Our deal with G-d, when we asked not to hear His voice
directly, was our promise to listen to the prophets, starting
with Moshe and continuing throughout the generations. This
aspect of Shofar, then, follows the previous item - Matan Torah.
"If a Shofar sounds in the city, will not the People tremble?"
Think of the sound of a siren - the feelings of apprehension and
dread that it filled us with. That's a Shofar - our spiritual
siren, helping us to get serious about Torah and T'shuva.
HaMikdash should also be kept in mind while hearing the Shofar.
The Prophets mention the Shofar in their description of the
Churban. One should think of the "ups and downs" of Jewish
history as part of the Rosh HaShana challenge that we all face.
Furthermore, the destruction of the Temples resulted from our
not keeping faith with G-d. These thoughts then, should also
lead us to think of repentance as the way to reverse the
devastating effects of the Churban.
In gathering of the
Exiles is described by Yeshayahu as being accompanied by the
sound of a Great Shofar. We are witness to the beginning of that
process; may we be privileged to see its continuation and
culmination. This too is in the realm of the T'KI'A and is one
of the promises to keep in mind so that we can put "things in
The Great Judgment
Day is associated with the Shofar. One must understand that we
stand in judgment before G-d on every Rosh HaShana, but that we
we will also do so on a different scale "after 120 years" and
"at the end of days".
is also associated with Shofar. Thinking of this gives us a
broader perspective on what G-d expects of us and what is in