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     The ceremony of Tashlich was developed around the 13th century, and became widespread, despite rabbinic concerns that people would put more emphasis upon the ceremony, than the power and need to change their lives. Superstitious rites as these most likely did influence this ceremony.  

    Primitive people believed that the best way to win favor from evil spirits living in and near waterways was to give them gifts. Some people, including the Babylonian Jews, sent sin-filled containers (breadcrumbs) out into the water. Then an ancient practice consisted of growing beans or peas for two to three weeks prior to the New Year, in a woven basket for each child in a family.  The basket, representing the child, was swung around the head seven times and then flung into the water. 

   Kurdistani Jews threw themselves into the water and swam around to be cleansed of their sins. In an early variation of the Yom Kippur Kaparot ritual, a rooster is swung around one’s head and is then slaughtered while being declared a “substitute” for the individual, as an atonement for his or her sins.  Water was seen as symbolic of the creation of the world and of all life. Kings of Israel were crowned near springs, suggesting continuity, like the King of Kings’ unending sovereignty. The prophets Ezekiel and Daniel received revelation near a body of water, it was seen as a place to find God’s presence. 

   As the element of purification, water was the means to cleanse the body and soul and take a new course in our lives. Although the rabbis preferred that Tashlich be done at a body of water containing fish, we know that man cannot escape God’s judgment any more than fish can escape being caught in a net.  Of course, this ritual is also filled with redemptive principles!

   The breadcrumbs, remind us of Yeshua, who is the Bread of Life (John 6:25-59). The significance of water reminds us of the water that Yeshua gave to the woman at the well, (John 4:4-42) and said she would never thirst again! The fish that cannot escape being caught in the net speaks of souls, as Yeshua was a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19).


   Yet, no substitute for sin is possible without the sacrificing blood of the Lamb of God that was slain on Passover. John called Him the Lamb of God (John 1:29).  In the end, what the ancient rabbis feared was realized. Superstitions as Tashlich replaced wholehearted Teshuva, or repentance. Traditions, prayers, and good deeds also supplanted the one and only requirement: Personal repentance from sin through the sacrifice of the Jewish Messiah 2,000 years ago. 

   During this season, pray for the salvation of the Jewish people. This is a holy season and a time of heightened spirituality. Pray that these rituals no longer blind them from the truth. Pray that the scattering of bread crumbs for personal sins leaves them unfulfilled in their souls. Pray that they hunger for the “whole loaf,” the One and Only Bread of Life, Yeshua. 

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