Rosh Hashanah - getting rid of bad habits
Part of the Jewish New Year - Rosh Hashanah is a custom called Tashlich. According to https://wellspringsofwisdom.com/tashlich-can-water-carry-away-mistakes/,
the custom originated in the Middle Ages and is traditionally done on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (on the second day if the first day is on Shabbat). We to go to the banks of a stream or other natural body of water, and symbolically “cast our sins” into the water by tossing breadcrumbs that will be eaten by the fish or birds. Today some people toss birdseed, pebbles or flower petals as better for the wildlife.
As part of my meetings with brides and grooms who ask me about Judaism and this custom, I tell them that it’s less about throwing away sins and more of getting rid of bad habits and making a commitment to try and become a better human being. By getting rid of bad habits it really sets up a bride and groom for a healthier marriage.
Rabbis originally looked askance at Tashlich as a superstitious custom, but the folk won out. At the New Year, as we celebrate the passage of time, we feel a need to cast off the burdens of the past and let them go into the flow of life. And part of the charm of the custom seems to be going out for a walk in nature after a long morning at the synagogue. “The birthday of the world,” should not just be spent indoors! Some communities blow the shofar, sing songs, and have a picnic.
Clasp a bit of bread (or some seeds) tightly in your hand. Intend to imbue them with the energy of something you want to release. Perhaps is it a bad habit. Do the work to change the habit day by day, but use the ceremony as a way to ritualize your goal. Maybe this time you are focusing on releasing a grudge or baggage from the past year. Or perhaps you are dealing with change in your life that is beyond your control and the ceremony this year will focus on letting go of attachment to the way you wish things would be, so that you can open up your emotions and outlook to new possibilities.
My commitment is that I am going to let my wife finish her sentences before I jump in and let her complete her thoughts. It’s a habit that I have to work on and one that I’m committed to do to improve our communication style and improve our relationship as well.
As brides and grooms prepare to get married and share a life together it really is a wonderful time at the Jewish New Year to think about letting go of some bad habits because by doing so you’re setting yourselves up for marriage that is much stronger and healthier and for a respectful and loving relationship. As a cantor who officiates marriages for Jewish brides and grooms it really is wonderful to reflect with couples at this time of year on what a healthy marriage can and should be.
May you all be blessed with good health and happiness for this Jewish New Year - Shana Tova U’metuka!