Tashlich: A Rosh Hashanah Custom

On the first day of the two-day Rosh Hashanah holiday, many observant Jews practice a custom called Tashlich.

Tashlich, which means casting off, involves walking to a body of flowing water and throwing pieces of bread into the water. The bread is a symbolic representation of one’s sins, which are cast off in preparation for a more pure year to come.

Before casting off their breadcrumbs, Jews recite a prayer derived from the book of Micah (7:18-19), which begins with: Who is like You, G-d, who removes iniquity and overlooks transgression of the remainder of His inheritance?

If Rosh Hashanah falls on the Jewish Sabbath (Shabbat), or if one is unable to perform Tashlich on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, it may be done the second day of Rosh Hashanah — or any day up to the second to last day of the holiday of Sukkot. Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, is a weeklong holiday beginning on the 15th of Tishrei (two weeks after Rosh Hashanah).

The Rosh Hashanah custom of Tashlich is first mentioned in the Book of the Prophet Nehemiah, where it is written: “All the Jews gathered as one in the street that is in front of the gate of water.”