This is a guided meditation for Tashlich, written and recorded by Rabbi David Basior for you. My intention is that this will be received as a helpful tool in conducting the ritual of tashlich - the casting away of our transgressions - during the Days of Awe in the time of a pandemic. It is being recorded on August 27, 2020, the 9th yahrzeit of my grandfather, George Basior, G’dalya ben Yitzchak. May his memory be for blessing and may all our ancestors have peace be upon them, perhaps made peaceful by the honorable actions of us, the living. Please stay safe while practicing this ritual.
This Tashlich guided meditation is intended for listening as you begin your journey to the water and as a companion for your time by the water. The Seattle area is full of natural water, tended and cared for through millenia by the Coast Salish people who shared the waters of this region within the Suquamish, Tulalip and Muckleshoot nations, and the Duwamish Tribe. Consider your relationship with these nations and tribes as you make your way to the water. Perhaps this is a year to begin paying Real Rent, update your contribution, or otherwise support and amplify the voices of these tribes and nations? How will you take on the role of water protector and steward of this land this year?
Part One: As you head to the water.Think back to where you were this time last year. It was the end of September, 2019 of the common era, the first days of Tishrei, 5-7-8-0 Jewish years since the creation of the world. It was the beginning of Fall and the light was thinning, a school year was beginning, the tomatoes reddening, and the honey dripping. The 5780s had just begun and you were in the midst of the promise, the reflection, and the power of the Days of Awe one year ago. Notice what arises when you think back to one year ago, before any of the events of this past year were predicted, known, or experienced.
You likely had some plans. Perhaps you were able to follow through on some of them. Perhaps not. Notice what has come to fruition, and what has not, particularly in this time when the year has brought so much that we not have expected.
As you make your way to the water, notice the path you are on. While paying attention to your safety with care for your life and all the life around you, consider your relationship to life for the year that begins anew today. Consider your intended impact on the world around you and in you. The Days of Awe are a ripe time to consider and discern: what of this past year went as it did because of your impact? What was your impact in the world in the past year?
As you consider these questions, notice if there is any judgement on the impact you had on yourself and the world around you. Notice if your narrative of the role you played this past year tends to elevate memories that bring you a sense of komemiut - pride and self-approval, or, if your narrative of the role you played this past year tends to elevate memories that bring you a sense of hitkatnut - making yourself small and unimportant, or, perhaps something else. Notice how you tell the story of your year and where you play the protagonist, and where you play the victim in your own retelling.
As Rabbi Musa ibn Maimon, the Rambam, Maimonides wrote in the laws of Teshuvah, chapter 5, verse 1, רְשׁוּת לְכָל אָדָם נְתוּנָה. Every person is endowed with a certain freedom of action, power, agency, and domain in this world. If a person desires and is just, they can tilt, bend, incline, or nudge the trajectory of their lives and the world according to their values, toward what would be considered “good.”
As you notice the tale you spin of this past year and your role in it, perhaps try on Rambam's perspective and ask: How have your actions affected the trajectory of things around you this past year?
Part Two: At the shores of the water Now at the water, as you prepare for the ritual of tashlich, take notice of the occasions this past year that did not go according to your plans, did not go according to your values, did not go according to your hopes and desires. Dwell in them as you prepare to “cast away” these unfulfilled plans and intentions. Also, notice what you intended compared to your actual impact. You have had a year’s worth of experiences, choices, actions, and inactions. As your plans adjusted to meet the new realities of the past year, notice how your intended actions actually impacted yourself, those around you, and the world. Now it is time to collect a pile of small stones, bark chips, or some other material natural to the habitat in which you find yourself. As you do so, I invite you not to dwell on the thoughts that have thus far passed through your mind or that weigh on your heart. Instead, focus on your relationship with the habitat in which you find yourself. Notice your impact on it. Go slow. Choose your objects intentionally and in values-based relationship to your surroundings. Consider how you could connect to the land and to the object as you consider collecting it. Take a moment to connect and to collect. Breathe as you do so. Go slow. … Ready to take account of your past missteps, mis-takes, I offer the lines from the Prophet Ezekiel (18:31):הַשְׁלִיכוּ מֵעֲלֵיכֶם, אֶת-כָּל-פִּשְׁעֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר פְּשַׁעְתֶּם בָּם, וַעֲשׂוּ לָכֶם לֵב חָדָשׁ, וְרוּחַ חֲדָשָׁה.Haslichu mei’aleichem, et kol pisheichem asher p’sha’tem bam, va’asu l’chem lev chadash, v’ru’ach chadashah."Cast away from yourselves all your transgressions, and create within yourselves a new heart and new spirit!"
And a prayer by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, who blogs at velvettenrabbi.blogs.com, slightly adapted for today:
A Prayer for Tashlich Here I am againready to let go of my mistakes. Help me to release myselffrom all the ways I've missed the mark. Help me to stop carryingthe karmic baggage of my poor choices. As I cast th[ese stones] upon the waterslift my troubles off my shoulders. Help me to know that last year is over,washed away like [ripples] in the current. Open my heart to blessing and gratitude.Renew my soul as the dew renews the grasses. And we say together:Amen. Take a few moments to cast into the water, away from yourself, the materials in your hands, each one representing a missing of the mark, an action or inaction that has kept you disconnected from your whole self, your loved ones, strangers, and all of creation.
Perhaps press pause here until you have completed your casting, and then resume playing for a closing.…
The Rambam wrote in Egypt in the late 12th century in his laws of (9:2):“...all the people Israel, their prophets and their scholars craved the Messianic era so that they might rest up from tyrannical government[. For it is tyranny that does] not give [people] tranquility to study the Torah and observe the precepts as they ought to such that they may find the peacefulness of mind to increase wisdom in order to acquire life in the World to Come.”
During this season, we tend to focus on the personal. Let us also focus on the context in which we live our lives, striving for the wisdom that brings justice that leads to peace. Take another few materials for casting and cast away the tyranny of government, of society, of systematic oppression - that which prevents us from fully living the life we intend, the life we want, the life of communal peace and wisdom. Cast away the injustices and recommit to our communal resistance of these which have made and may continue to try to push our lives away from the good.
As you make your way away from the water, perhaps take a picture, collect a stone or piece of nature, with permission, to remind you of that which you have cast away. As you have come in peace, צֵאתְכֶם לְשָׁלוֹם - tzetchem l’shalom - may your departure also be for the sake of peace.
L’shanah tovah, metukah, v’tzedek - may it be a year for the sake of good, sweetness, and justice.