Forgiveness Essential Part Of Our Character
Continued from Page L-1
us. They don't hear us when we call
out to them. They act in ways that
ignore our sensitivities or our
interests. Sometimes they will do
exactly the opposite of what we
need them to do, or would want
them to do. And we hurt.
At times like this the easiest
thing for us to do is to take that hurt
and make it part of ourselves.
Perhaps we enjoy nursing the pain.
Perhaps we derive some perverse
pleasure from calling the injury to
mind. Whatever it is, each
cherished piece of anger and hurt
becomes like a small piece of
building material. Bit by bit those
small pieces build up until before
we know it, and perhaps without our
intention, they form a wall that
stands between us and the people
who should be close to us, the
people who should be dearest to us.
Now come the Days of Awe.
When we forgive the
walls we have built begin
to crumble. We let go of
the feelings of
bitterness, of hurt, of
disappointment. We give
ourselves the chance to
start our relationships
And we are called to turn our gaze
inward to see how we have injured
and harmed those near us and to
Rosh Hashanah Ritual
By RABBI MARC S. VOLK
The custom of tashlich on Rosh
Hashanah is observed by Jews
worldwide. Strangely enough,
tashlich is not mentioned in the
Talmud or in the early writings of
the Rishonim (opinions of rabbis
from the authorship of the Talmud
until the year 1565).
In light of this, the obligation of
tashlich is incumbent upon us,
because the people of Israel have
ordained the custom's sanctity and
uniqueness. The Ramah (Rabbi
Moshe Isserlis), a commentary on
the Shulchan Aruch says that:
"Minhag Yisrael Torah Hu"
meaning that a custom of Israel has
the status of Torah.
Let us now attempt to
understand the reason for this
custom. The origin of tashlich is
correlated to akedas yitzchak, the
mandate given by God that
Abraham sacrifice his son, Isaac, on
the altar at Mt. Moriah. Our rabbis
say that satan intended to inhibit
Abraham from carrying out his task
by weakening his devotion to God.
Abraham and Isaac, upon observing
a river that seemed impossible to
cross, forged ahead with the full
realization that satan, the epitome of
the evil inclination, was attempting
THE JEWISH NEWS
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September 22, 1989
Associate Publisher Arthur M. Horwitz
Jewish Experiences for Families
Adviser Harlene W Appleman
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 1989
to prevent them from carrying out
Abraham, the first Jew, having
proclaimed "hineni," "Here I am,"
was ready, willing and able to fulfill
God's will and appealed to the
Almighty by saying: "Help, Hashem,
for water threatens our lives!" This
appeal was accepted. The river
disappeared and Abraham and
Isaac continued their journey to the
site of the Akedah.
Abraham's demonstration of
dedication and submission to the
will of God serves as an inspiration
to all Jews. We go to a river, or
some other body of water, to recall
before God and to ourselves, that
our patriarch defeated the master of
Two other suggestions for the
origin of the tashlich ritual are:
• Water can be spilled on the
ground without much effort and -
become mud. Man in his humility
recognizes that he, like water, can
be lowered from an elevated status.
• We can be compared to fish
who swim to and fro with reckless
abandon. Suddenly, they may be
caught in a net. Similarly, a human
being may feel secure in the
thought that he will not sin or
transgress. However, the reality of
the imperfection of man engenders
him to realize that he could become
caught in the "net of sin or
The Jew approaches a body of
water and recites various psalms in
addition to the verses "You shall
cast all their sins into the depths of
the sea." During the recitation of
these prayers, he shakes out his
pockets, symbolically removing
himself of all his sins.
Rabbi Volk is executive director of
Akiva Hebrew Day School.
ask their forgiveness. And so during
this time of penitence, those closest
to us realizing, we hope, the
mistakes they have made will
approach us and ask us to forgive.
And in the spirit of our tradition
"When you are asked to forgive,
you must forgive."
When we forgive, the walls we
have built begin to crumble. We let
go of the feelings of bitterness, of
hurt, of disappointment. We give
ourselves the chance to start our
relationships anew. For forgiving
means truly setting the past behind
us. It means seeing our close ones
with new eyes. Eyes unclouded by
the deeds of the past. We are able
to reach out to one another anew.
And embrace anew. To forgive, to
truly forgive, means to turn a new
page in our relationships. It means
to build new foundations.
Like all of creation at this time
of the New Year, we start afresh.
Our relationships grow
unencumbered by mistakes of the
past, our own and those of dear
ones. What a wonderful gift our
tradition gives us, the ability to wipe
the slate clean and start afresh.
So we have important work
these days. To look into our own
hearts, to find the people to whom
we must do atonement and hope
that they will accept our apologies.
And we have the work of forgiving
Now come to us, they are asking
us to allow them to start anew with
us. Let us start anew. Let us forgive.
May our new beginnings be for the
1. Day of Atonement.
2. Animal Abraham sacrificed in place of his son.
3. Abraham's son.
6. Traditional Jewish bread.
7. Nine fast, short blasts blown on the shofar.
8. Trumpet blown on the High Holy Days.
11. The shofar is made from a
12. Father of the Jewish People.
13. Prayer said on the eve of Yom Kippur. Kol
17. Apples are dipped in this for a sweet year.
1 Translation of the word "shanah."
4. Holiday following Yom Kippur.
5. Fruit eaten during Rosh Hashanah.
7. Rosh Hashanah occurs in this month.
9. To refrain from eating.
10. Closing service on Yom Kippur.
11. Holiday that celebrates the birthday of the world.
14. High Holy Day prayer book.
15. Jews go to the synagogue or temple to
16. He was swallowed by a whale.
18. The Jewish calendar is based on the
cycles of the
Days of Awe. (Number)
20. Long, loud blast blown on
ANSWERS ON PAGE L-7
Puzzle by Judy Loeb!