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

The Laws of the Holiday of Sukkot

As per the request of many of our members and as a public service, we shall now list a synopsis of some laws which are essential for the upcoming Sukkot holiday: The Sukkah must be made of three walls and Sechach (the roof). The walls may be made of any material which can withstand a normal wi......

Read Halacha

Honoring One’s Father-in-Law and Mother-in-Law

The Yalkut Shimoni states: “David told Shaul, ‘My father, you shall surely see the corner of your coat in my hand’” (which means that David called Shaul his father). Our Sages derived from here that one is obligated to honor one’s father-in-law just as one is obligated ......

Read Halacha

Reciting Kaddish

When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Similarly, if one, G-d-forbid, loses a son, daughter, brother, or sister, one should recite Kaddis......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Honoring Parents After Their Passing

Just as one is obligated to honor one’s parents during their lifetime, one is likewise obligated to honor one’s parents after their passing. One may certainly not disrespect one’s parents after their death. The Baraita (Kiddushin 31b) states: “Whenever one mentions a Torah......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Rising Before One’s Father or Rabbi- Maran zt”l’s Response to his Grandson

All of the laws of honoring and revering one’s parents apply equally to both a son and daughter. When we sometimes focus on a father and son or a mother and daughter, this is meant as a mere example and illustration. When one sees one’s parents passing in front of him, one must rise b......

Read Halacha

Who Must Bear the Financial Burden of Caring for One’s Parents?

We have discussed previously that part of the Mitzvah of honoring one’s parents is serving one’s parents food and drink as they wish. Included in this is that when one’s parents are elderly and can no longer care for themselves, their sons and daughters must care for their physical......

Read Halacha

A Father Who Absolves His Son from Honoring and Revering Him

The following discussion is crucial to understanding important laws regarding honoring one’s parents. In the previous Halachot, we have discussed some laws pertaining to honoring and revering one’s parents. There are certain laws that relate to a child’s obligation to honor his ......

Read Halacha

Calling One’s Father or Mother by Name

Question: May one call one’s father by his first name? Also, may one call a friend with the same name as one’s father by his first name? Answer: A child may not call his father or mother by their first name. For instance, if one’s father’s name is “Shmuel,” the......

Read Halacha