The practice of Tashlikh comes from a time when no one could imagine that human acts could deplete entire oceans. The vastness of the sea, its capacity to receive and transform, to cleanse all, to breakdown and replenish, this is what we evoke in Tashlikh ~ something that Walt Whitman also wrote about in Leaves of Grass (from “This Compost“):
That the winds are really not infectious,
That this is no cheat, this transparent green-wash of
the sea, which is so amorous after me,
That it is safe to allow it to lick my naked body all
over with its tongues,
That it will not endanger me with the fevers that
have deposited themselves in it,
That all is clean forever and forever…
Now our appetites consume whole species of fish, though fish are our model and metaphor for unimaginable fecundity. Industries kill off reefs; oil spills entire coastlines. Our ways of agriculture wash ages of good soil into the ocean, along with pesticides and manure. The greatest earthly symbol of the infinite is reaching its limits in our generation. We need to acknowledge this reality in our Tashlikh liturgy.
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A kavvanah for before:
May the leavings of our lives and actions be like bread,
which cast on the water can become food and nourishment in the cycle of life.
May what we take from the Earth be what comes to us naturally,
like the grasses that first gave humanity grain,
and unbiddingly, like the wild yeast.
May we repair our arc in the circle of life,
so that what comes to us flows from what is enough,
and what comes from us flows back into the great river of being
that is ever created by the One Source of Being.”
כַּכָּתוּב: לֹא־יָרֵעוּ וְלֹא־יַשְׁחִיתוּ בְּכָל־הַר קָדְשִׁי
כִּי־מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ דֵּעָה אֶת־ה׳
כַּמַּיִם לַיָּם מְכַסִּים׃
A kavvanah for after:
May this act of casting away,
of emptying ourselves of what has passed,
become a beginning of filling ourselves anew.
May we dwell in awareness
that the Creator fills and surrounds every hollow and space in this planet,
just as these waters fill (this stream and this stream fills) the ocean,
so that may we learn and teach each other how to live
without destroying and ruining this world
that is the source of our life.
As it says, ‘Lo yarei’u v’lo yashḥitu b’khol har kodshi,
ki mal’ah ha’arets dei’ah et Adonai
kamayim layam m’khasim.’
“They will not harm and they will not ruin or destroy anywhere in My mount of holiness,
for [they will understand that] the Earth is filled with knowing YHVH,
like the waters are covering the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
“Kavvanot for before and after Tashlikh, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.
Works of related interest:
תפילה ליום הודו על חנוכּה | Prayer for when Thanksgiving Day falls during Ḥanukkah, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)
תפילה בין השריפות | Prayer between the Fires (between the 32nd and 42nd days of the Omer, neohasid.org)
על אלה אנו בוכים | Al eleh anu bokhim (For these we weep), a lamentation for humanity’s destruction of habitat and species, by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)