Halacha for Monday 23 Elul 5779 September 23 2019

The Custom of “Tashlich”

Following Mincha services of the first day of Rosh Hashanah, it is customary to go to a seashore, river, well, or pit in order to recite the order of “Tashlich.” If there is no river, lake, or pond in close proximity of one’s vicinity, it is likewise perfectly acceptable to recite the order of Tashlich upon a bucket of water or a running hose or faucet. This was indeed the custom of Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l who would recite “Tashlich,” along with his entire congregation, on a bucket of water. This custom, along with the reason behind it, is mentioned in the book of customs authored by Rabbeinu Yaakov Molin: “It is customary to go to a sea or river on Rosh Hashanah in order to (symbolically) throw all of our sins to the depths of the sea.” The reason for this custom is based on the Midrash which states, “When Avraham Avinu went with Yitzchak to Mount Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice as he was commanded, the Satan preceded them on the way and began to persuade Avraham against this and prevent him from fulfilling Hashem’s commandment. When the Satan saw that he was unsuccessful in persuading Avraham against sacrificing Yitzchak, the Satan went before them and turned into a large river so that they would not be able to cross. Nevertheless, Avraham and Yitzchak continued on their journey unperturbed and entered the water until it reached their necks. Avraham Avinu then lifted his eyes heavenwards and exclaimed: ‘Master of the World! You have appeared to me and told me, Take Yitzchak, your only son whom you love, go to the land of the Moriah, and bring him there as an offering. I have not thought twice about this and I have not hindered your command. If we drown in this river, who will sanctify your great name? Save me G-d, for the water have reached my very soul!’ Immediately, Hashem castigated the Satan and he disappeared.” The holy Zohar states that Akedat Yitzchak (the binding and near-offering of Yitzchak) occurred on Rosh Hashanah; it is for this reason that the Torah portion read on Rosh Hashanah deals with Akedat Yitzchak. Similarly, it is for this reason that we customarily go to river or pond on Rosh Hashanah in order to recite Tashlich on Rosh Hashanah in order to commemorate the merits of Avraham and Yitzchak.

Another reason for the custom of Tashlich is recorded in the Siddur Aholei Yaakov which is that the Gemara (Horayot 12a) states that when a new king is anointed, he is anointed next to a spring to symbolize that his reign should be continuous. Similarly, Rav Mesharshia told his children that when they study Talmud, they should do so at the seashore or at the river bank to symbolize that just as these waters flow continuously, so should your Torah study flow continuously and you should never forget it. Since we perform many symbolic actions on Rosh Hashanah as a good sign for the coming year, it is therefore customary to go to the river to symbolize that Hashem’s mercy and kindness should flow continuously to us and that He inscribe us in the Book of Life for a good and peaceful life and that He forgive us for all of our sins, as the verse states, “I am hereby turning to you like a river of peace.” 

There are several other reasons for Tashlich according to the Kabbalah. Indeed, Maran zt”l, who usually followed customs based on the revealed Torah, would read the entire text of the Zohar quoted in Machzorim as part of the order of Tashlich. In the last years of his life, a large bucket filled with water was brought to the synagogue’s porch and the congregation, along with Maran, would go out onto the porch and recite Tashlich. When asked what the connection was between the text of the Zohar we read and the custom of Tashlich, Maran zt”l replied, “There are certain questions we do not ask.”

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

A Negligent COVID-19 Patient

Question: If one becomes ill with the Coronavirus due to one’s own negligence to the extent that one becomes bedridden, must this individual recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing upon recovering? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that one who becomes ill to the po......

Read Halacha

Laws Pertaining to Tisha Be’av

There are five categories of abstinence which must be observed on Tisha Be’av: Eating and drinking, washing one’s self, rubbing one’s body with oils or lotions, wearing leather shoes, and marital relations. Our Sages also prohibited learning Torah on Tisha Be’av, for the word......

Read Halacha

The Laws of the “Ha’Gomel” Blessing

Our Sages enacted that one who has experienced an event in which there was some danger involved must thank Hashem for the goodness which He has bestowed upon him in front of ten men, as we shall soon explain. The Gemara in Masechet Berachot (54a) states: “Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav:......

Read Halacha

The “Ha’Gomel” Blessing for One Who Has Recovered from the Coronavirus

Question: If one was sick with the Coronavirus but was not in any life-threatening danger and the illness merely caused one to be bedridden, must one recite the “Ha’Gomel” blessing? Answer: In the previous Halacha we explained that there are four types of people that must recite......

Read Halacha


Eating Meat Following Rosh Chodesh Av

The Mishnah in Masechet Ta’anit (26b) tells us that on Erev Tisha Be’av during the last meal one eats before the fast, one may not eat meat, drink wine, or eat two cooked foods, such as rice and an egg. Although the letter of the law dictates that the prohibition to eat meat only applies......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Motza’ei Tisha Be’av and the Tenth of Av

----------------------------- By Popular Request: According to the Sephardic custom, it is permissible to shave, take a haircut, and do laundry immediately at the conclusion of the fast tonight. Ashkenazim customarily rule leniently in this regard. However, this year (5780), when the Tenth of Av fa......

Read Halacha

Eating a Meal on Erev Shabbat

Question: Is one permitted to eat a bread meal after halachic midday on Erev Shabbat (Friday afternoon)? Answer: The Gemara (Gittin 38b) states that there were two wealthy and important families in Jerusalem and both of them sinned to the extent that they were eventually uprooted from the world. ......

Read Halacha

Some Detailed Laws Regarding the Mitzvah of Making a Railing

Approximately two years ago, we have discussed the general parameters of the verse, “And you shall make a railing for your roof and you shall not place blood in your home.” This refers to building a gate or fence around the roof of one’s home so that one does not fall off of it. Th......

Read Halacha