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Holidays

Here’s How to Cast Away Your Sins Without Leaving Home

tashlich

Going outside during a pandemic can be stressful — even if it is generally deemed safer than congregating at home or in places of worship. And while many are still choosing to observe the Jewish high holiday ritual of tashlich, the symbolic casting away of sins in bodies of water ahead of Yom Kippur, outdoors, it turns out you can also totally do it from the comfort of your own home!

Even if you have done tashlich this year, this at-home activity is a great chance to bond with you kids and teach them important values. Namely, it helps to teach our r kids resilience and the importance of owning up — and letting go of — our mistakes.

This activity, which the wonderful Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder (A.K.A. Rabbi Ruth) demonstrates below, is deceptively simple — but the most important part of it is participation. Your participation, not that of your kids.

Judaism teaches us that perfection is a concept that just doesn’t exist in humans. Even the bible’s most revered characters — like Sarah, Abraham, and the other matriarchs and patriarchs — are flawed and make mistakes.

To small children, parents sometimes seem perfect and infallible. But by participating in this activity, which forces you to write down your regrets and mistakes of the previous year in front of your kids, we don’t just show them that we aren’t perfect — we show them the importance of admitting to our mistakes, and of moving on. And therefore, we model the prospect of admitting our mistakes — from the small ones, like getting gum on the carpet, to the big ones, like hurting a friend or failing themselves — less daunting.

Here’s what you need to participate in this special at-home tashlich:

1. A container to hold water: a baking pan/bucket/pot/whatever you’ve got
2. Water

Option 1:
3. Plain paper
4. Water-soluble markers (many markers in your home are water-soluble!)

Option 2:
3.Rice paper or rice wrappers
4. Permanent markers

Write the things you want to let go of, and have your kids do the same, and put them in the water dish.

If you’re using paper and water-soluble marker, you can watch your words dissolve. It might take a while but the writing will soon become imperceptible.

If you’re using rice paper or a rice wrapper, you can drop the rice the “sins” right in the water, or you can crumble and tear it up before you do. Especially with the rice wrappers, the tactile feeling is just so satisfying — and the symbolism of tearing up your mistakes, something that once it is done, is irreversible, is also really powerful.

Watch Rabbi Ruth demonstrate the activity below, and impart some incredible Jewish wisdom in the process:

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