It seems to me that a lot of people today are very uncomfortable with the idea of sin, partially because if we admit to sinning, well, then we view ourselves AS a sinner. We believe that our actions or mis-actions DEFINE us and who we are, essentially. Therefore, we steer clear from a willingness to really see our mis-deeds, let alone do anything significant about them. We continue to walk around, living life running from our shadows and a broken self identity.
And herein lies the power of Tashlich, the New Year ritual of throwing crumbs representing our sins into a body of water. The strength of tashlich is that it allows us to “externalize” our sins. This crumb IS my sin and I am casting it away. By externalizing the sin and making a distinction between myself and the sin, I disconnect my core self identity from being a sinner to one who has sinned. In essence, I no longer = sin.
By disconnecting my self identify from my actions, I can now re-connect to a fuller and richer idea of self, let’s call that soul, and then I can draw on that healthier self identity to now properly and soberly address my behavior. I no longer have to worry that by really admitting my mis-actions that I am admitting a flawed self, but rather a flawed decision. I am I and the sin is the sin.
We can only truly address teshuva and our brokenness from a place of higher perspective. The reality that we are a chelek Elokah m’maal, a unique soul expression of G-d, is a solid foundation for clearly looking at our action and our decisions. YES, what I did was wrong and that needs repairing, but I can’t see that or admit that or even have enough hope and strength to change it without an understanding that I am greater than what I did.
In the pasuk from Micha 7:19 which we read during tashlich it states, “yashuv yirachamainu yichbosh avonotainu”, “He (G-d) will again be merciful to us and He will conquer our sins”.
I would like to suggest a drash here, “Yashuv yirachameinu”, that teshuva from a place of G-d centered mercy and compassion, “yichbosh avonotainu” is what conquers our sins.
So this year’s tashlich can be an amazing opportunity to access this internal mercy, our internal light. And then allow this light to be what illuminates our mis-deads. Once we see our sins clearly illuminated by the depths of our soul, then and only then are we’re really ready to send them away.