Known Regrets, Unknown Paths: field notes from Tashlich

It had been some years since I’d participated in tashlich (“casting away”), the ritual commonly performed on Rosh Hashanah, in which one scatters breadcrumbs into flowing water, symbolically letting go of transgressions from the year past.


Still in the remedial group, I came late to the endeavour, only taking to the task today – but in my defense, with a degree of forethought and intentionality, filling up three small vials with breadcrumbs, each for a specific set of regrets about the year gone by and a commitment to try to do better in the year ahead.  And setting out with a friend.

Then, standing over a riverlet coursing its way through a ravine, I opened the vials, considering my wrongs and my rights, and surrendering the breadcrumbs one at a time to their journeys.  When the first few moved rapidly through the water, then got stuck at a rock, I started to game the system, eliminating the middleman and sending three-point shots to the more cooperative patches of waters.  I thought about crossing the stream and setting the stuck morsels free, but instead trusted that sooner or later, they would be released from where they were trapped, and so would I. 


(Lest I take credit where it’s not deserved, this one was not taken by me.)

While closer to me, other pieces of bread also had their passage blocked by a wide stone, but no sooner were they seemingly tethered  for life to stuckness, then they suddenly broke free,  surging over the stone and onward, quickly disappearing from view.

And I recalled one of my teachers at a Buddhist retreat saying, “You have no idea where you are on the path.”

L’shana Tova.  A good year to us all.


Filed under Mindfulness, Tashlich

7 responses to “Known Regrets, Unknown Paths: field notes from Tashlich

  1. Thanks. Lorne. A sweet, and goodness-filled new year to you!!! I always enjoy what you post!!!

  2. Terry Frame

    What a wonderful idea to focus oneself. Letting go and starting fresh

  3. Hi, Lorne: I appreciated your humor in this piece (“gaming the system” by setting your crumbs on a clear path). What particularly lifted me up was the fact that the stuck crumbs did eventually break free — it just took a bit longer than anticipated. I really want to practice patience and trust in Hashem’s timetable for me, This was sweet and poetic: “…trusted that sooner or later they would be released from where they were trapped, and so would I.” Halevai and amen.

    • Thanks so much for giving these reflections such close attention, Susanne. Patience and trust continue to be an ongoing effort for me, and maybe every second person we bump into, so at least we’re in good company.

      • Hi, Lorne: Don’t even know if I read your kind response to my comment. Am ABOUT to publish my first blog entry since Spring 2014, greatly motivated by your subscribing to the blog. I made myself a promise to resume writing — or to write at all — and here goes. OK, I’m scared of the technology piece but I will trust that if I hit a roadblock, there will be a way to get help. Shabbat Shalom, Susanne

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