Friday, October 3, 2008

Preaching to the animals

When I walked down to the spring on Rosh Hashanah to do Tashlich, this friendly cat was interested in the bread in my bag. She didn't understand why I was throwing all those sin-crumbs to the fish and not to her. So after I read the prescribed Psalms and prayers and added my private prayer, I sat down next to the purring kitty and spoke aloud to her (it was only the two of us there), explaining why fish:

"Tashlich is preferably recited alongside a body of water containing fish, to remind us that just as fish are protected by the water in which they live, we pray to be protected by G-d. Also, just as fish swim freely and can suddenly be caught in a net, so too we can just as helplessly fall into the net of sin. And even as the eyes of fish are always open, so do we pray that G-d too will keep vigilant watch over his people."
(from the Orthodox Union website)
Interestingly, the same webpage adds this reminder of the old days:
"Historically, Jews would sometimes be instructed by their own community leaders to seek out bodies of water not near the center of town, so as not to be seen during Tashlich by their non-Jewish neighbors, for fear of a 'poisoning the wells' accusation. This was certainly true if actual food was thrown into the water, but even if not, they would be accused of mumbling curses and poisoning the wells by witchcraft."

We have all come a long way since then [I hope].


richies said...

I have learned so much from your blog. I had never heard of throwing sin crumbs to the fish before. Thank you for your informative posts

Dina said...

Shalom Richie in Arkansas. I always feel I have so much to learn, about everything; so it's nice to hear that we all help each other to learn new stuff. I hope you also read my Sept.30 post which describes the Tashlich ceremony in a more serious vein.
When I lived at Heifer Ranch near Perryville, AR, I'd go down to the pond where we raised talapia fish and throw them my bread for Tashlich. It caught on, and every year more and more of the Christian volunteers would join in.
Do you know Heifer International? Been to the Ranch?

Louis la Vache said...

A thoughtful, informative post, Dina. "Louis" thanks you!

kaybee said...

I'm a new visitor to your site, and am so grateful I found you!

I visited Jerusalem in 1989, and have not been back since. While there, I sensed the 'holiness' of the Holy Land. But the years have a way of dimming the memories. Your blog restores them --there is a sense of 'holiness' in your writing. I am learning so much -- I thank you and bless you!

Dina said...

Merci Louis et Shabbat shalom a toi.

Welcome Kaybee. I am humbled by your words. In truth.
I guess living on a hill in the middle of nowhere in the forested Jerusalem Hills--but really in the middle of everything holy--the holiness just rubs off on you. You can't escape it even if you wanted to.
I see from a first visit to your two blogs there is a lot of history and depth to go into there. I'll be back to read more.

Katney said...

In the Catholic tradition tomorrow is the feast of St. Francis of Assisi. In many places the animals will be taken to church for a blessing. He would definitely approve of your conversation with the cat.

Dina said...

Katney shalom! I wrote this post in this way because the cat is Franciscan, she's a monastery cat.
But now you inform me tomorrow is the feastday of St. Francis!!!
Thank you!! Isn't it amazing how things come together?
Gee, we could have used Sister Moon and Brother Sun for SkyWatch Friday too!

Reader Wil said...

Shalom Dina, what a beautiful post! So the Tashlich ceremony is done every New Year? It's beaytiful if one knows the deeper meaning of it. Thank you for the extra information.

JC said...

Great information. That is a pretty and healthy looking cat. I noticed a lot of cats in Jerusalem but some looked hungry. Have a great Sabbath.

Shimmy Mom said...

Another wonderful post. And yes, I too hope that we have come a long way. I think that most people have, it just sometimes scares me to know that some have not. We will just keep taking steps toward understanding each other and loving each other purely because we are all G-d's children.

Dianne said...

I used to take my Nana down to the walkway by the Narrows in Brooklyn, NY. Over the years many of 'the ladies' would need assistance to get there and I became the appointed escort.

More of my fondest memories. Your site inspires these memories, thank you.

Your photo is lovely.


i like the idea of blessing animals - st francis isnt celebrated in greece, so i am now wondering how we bless the animals that provide us with food

Catherine said...

I've just read your sept.30 post.
Thanks, Dina, to give us time and so much interesting information.
I love the symbolism of the disappearing of sins

Laura ~Peach~ said...

very interesting I learn something new each day and this is awesome... Love your sky watch photo too!

Arija said...

I think she's preaching to the converted. Nice puss and view.

Lea said...

Shalom, v'Shanah Tova, Dina!

I found your blog through SWF, but I intend to come back again and again. Zeh yoffi!

Father Sky, Mother Earth, St. Francis and HaShem all rejoice with you and your kitty friend.

Bright Blessings and Shabbat Shalom (here in Michigan),


Anonymous said...

Dina, I'm sure Kitty appreciated the conversation as well as the education. Shabbat Shalom.

Petrea said...

Dina, you know I'm not religious. Yet your blog is one of my favorites. It's not just the education I receive here, not just the pictures, though I enjoy both. It's the truth you tell and your open heart that bring me back. I love that you have such faith and yet you are open to and appreciative of the faiths of others. You're a gem and our world needs more like you.

Webradio said...

Bonjour Dina !
c'est un texte qui explique bien les choses...
Very informative post !
And the cat is beautiful...
See You later.

Anonymous said...

She looks like she has some babies there and could have used some of that bread.

Rambling Woods said...

Shalom Dina..a very healthy New Year!!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

A wonderful post, Dina. I had never heard of this tradition before but think it's a beautiful one. All the best in the new year!

Eki Akhwan said...

I like the explanation you gave (and cited) about the symbolic meaning of your new year ritual, Dina. This is the kind of thing we need to learn more of our respective religions so that we may gain wisdom in and of our lives.

That cat looks big and cute. What type of cat is that? Is it a ferral cat?

Dina said...

Thanks Wil. Yes, tashlich is once a year, on Rosh Hashana.

JC, yeah, too many cats in the city. They just have to know which humans to adopt. This white kitty has it good at the monastery.

Shimmy Mom, beautifully said!

Dianne shalom, What a mitsvah you had all those years!

M.Kiwi, you've got me wondering now too. So nice you think of that.

Catherine, "the disappearing of sins," wow, I never thought of it that way. But I will next year.

Dina said...

Hi Laura. Good, I'm glad.

Arija, I think you're right. :)

Shalom Lea. Love how you said that!

Rob, cat liked being petted even more.

Petrea, that warms my heart no end.
Thank you for telling me.

Cher Webradio, merci!

Abe, I felt guilty enough "feeding" the fish. A sign says it is forbidden.

Rambling Woods, thanks. We have a saying, "The main thing is good health."

EG Tour Guide, thanks. You're not the only one who has not heard of it.

Yes Eki, I agree 100%. You are a good teacher on your blog.
This cat is not a house cat and not a wild cat either. She is a special case: a monastery cat. Most cats around here do not live in people's houses, but they usually do attach themselves to nice people who leave them some food.

Kris said...

It certainly seems a step up from the traditions of scapegoating!