Halacha for Monday 22 Elul 5781 August 30 2021

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.”

Women do not need to recite the order of Tashlich. If a woman, nevertheless, wishes to recite Tashlich, she may, however, great care must be taken that the laws of modesty not be breached. Indeed, many times women walk together with men to the place where Tashlich is taking place and this is considered immodest. One should be careful regarding modesty concerns, especially on this Day of Judgment when we extremely scrupulous regarding all our actions. There is nothing more important than modesty. Indeed, Maran zt”l would often exclaim that even those women who covered their hair with a wig (something absolutely forbidden year-round, according to his opinion), nevertheless, one should be especially careful about this matter during the Ten Days of Repentance when we are “under the microscope”, so to speak.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

Eating and Washing One’s Self Yom Kippur

Some Laws of Yom Kippur All are obligated to fast on Yom Kippur, including pregnant and nursing women. Any woman whose health is at risk due to the fast should consult a prominent Torah scholar who is well-versed in these laws and he should render his ruling whether or not she must fast. One whose ......

Read Halacha

Motza’ei Yom Kippur

Adding From the Mundane Onto the Holiness One must add some of the mundane weekday onto the holiness of Yom Kippur upon its exit, i.e. one should not end this holy day immediately with nightfall; rather, one should wait another few minutes. Thus, it is prohibited to eat or perform work on Motza&rsq......

Read Halacha

The Obligation to Eat in the Sukkah

Since there is not so much time left to discuss the laws of Sukkot, let us now spend the next few Halachot discussing some pertinent Halachot for the upcoming Sukkot holiday. A Meal of an Established Character Throughout the entire Sukkot holiday, both during the night and day, it is prohibited ......

Read Halacha

Reciting Selichot Alone, Without a Minyan

Question: If one is unable to recite Selichot with a Minyan (quorum of at least ten Jewish men) for whatever reason or if a woman wishes to recite Selichot and she cannot do so with a Minyan, may one recite the Selichot texts alone or should one abstain from doing so? Answer: If one wishes to rec......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Eating a Kezayit of Bread in the Sukkah on the First Night of Sukkot and One who is Uncomfortable in the Sukkah

In the previous Halacha we have discussed that one may not eat an established meal outside of the Sukkah anytime during the Sukkot holiday. One must be aware that the reward for the Mitzvah of Sukkah is that it protects one during turbulent times (see Zohar, Parashat Tetzaveh). The Mitzvah of......

Read Halacha

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 ......

Read Halacha

The Proper Behavior for the Days of Rosh Hashanah-The Custom of Maran zt”l

It is customary to eat red meat and sweet foods on the days of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse in Nechemia states, “Go eat fatty foods and drink sweet beverages and sent gifts of food to those who do not have, for the day is sanctified to our Lord.” One may not fast at all on Rosh Hashana......

Read Halacha

Blowing the Shofar on Rosh Hashanah

It is a positive Torah commandment to hear the Shofar blasts on the day of Rosh Hashanah, as the verse states, “It shall be a day of [Shofar] blasts for you.” One may not speak between the various sets of Shofar blasts and certainly not during the blasts themselves. The Poskim disagree r......

Read Halacha