Ethics

For the week ending 19 September 2009 / 29 Elul 5769

Keeping the Holy Day Holy

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: On Rosh Hashana the custom of Tashlich in our community brings a large crowd of men and women to the banks of our local river to recite the special prayers and ceremonially "cast their sins" into the water. It disturbs me, however, to observe the lack of seriousness which some people demonstrate at such an occasion, turning a religious experience into a social event. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: Jews who go to Tashlich are basically serious about this opportunity to symbolically rid themselves of the sins they have accumulated in the year gone by. But they do need to be reminded that their awareness of this holy day does not end when departing from the synagogue. In some communities steps are taken before the holiday to designate separate areas for men and women and place the signs necessary for directing people to their assigned area.

It would also be a good idea for the local rabbis to make mention in their holiday sermons of the need for decorum at Tashlich or to at least post some announcement on the synagogue bulletin board regarding the above-mentioned separation of men and women at the riverside.

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