Rabbi Moshe Miller of "AskMoses.com" responded to my inquiry on Tashlich with the following thoughts. First there is no mention "at all" of tashlich in the Talmud. Secondly, tashlich is found in the Zohar and the reference is Volume 3, page 101a. Third, Rabbi Miller said that some rabbis see "an allusion" to tashlich in the book of Nehemiah (Chapter 8:1-3).
If this information is accurate, and there is no reason to doubt its validity, then the celebration of tashlich needs to be seriously rethought by participating Messianics. The only "allusion" to tashlich that I can find in my reading of Nehemiah 8:1-3 is the mention of a "Water Gate". Does the mere mention of water mean that anyone was throwing a rock or piece of bread into the water as a means of symbolizing the abolishment of sin? To extract the tashlich ceremony out of Nehemiah 8:1-3 semes to be stretching the credibility of the word "allusion" to its breaking point. The fact that Rabbi Miller admits that the Talmud does not mention or even allude to the ceremony of tashlich should give caution to seeing tashlich in Nehemiah 8. It would seem that when all the evidence is weighed that tashlich is founded in the Zohar of the 16th century and the Zohar is the clear foundation for Kabbalah ie Jewish Mysticism.
Submitted by admin on Mon, 2006-04-24 00:43.
Every year on the day of Yom Teruah it is traditional to go to a body of water and cast either a rock or piece of bread into the water. The ceremony of throwing a rock or piece of bread is known as "tashlich" from the Hebrew word which means "throw" or "cast". Often at "tashlich" it is customary to recite Scriptures like Micah 7:18-20 and some selected Psalms dealing with the forgiveness of sins. By throwing a rock or piece of bread into the water one is symbolically casting away sins that will never be remembered again.
For many years I participated in this tradition without examining its roots or origin. In speaking to a fellow believer recently I was challenged to examine "tashlich" to see if it had pagan origins. The brother who challenged me asserted that "tashlich" had its roots in the Kabbalistic movement which would mean that it came out of the Zohar. In my investigation, which has admittedly not been exhaustive, I have read several sources who claim that they don't know where the tradition of "tashlich" originated. I checked the Encyclopedia Judaica, several on-line rabbis, and a number of other sources who can only say that "tashlich" originated in the mid-1500's to mid-1600's. Several sources did say that Kabbalah has been the main encouragement behind "tashlich" but stopped short of saying that Kabbalah was the source of "tashlich's" origin. In reading Reuven Hammer's book, "Entering the High Holy Days", he writes, "this ceremony ,whose origins are unknown, may even have been a superstitious practice common to many peoples. As one scholar speculates, there was a 'common custom of throwing sops to the spirits of rivers on critical days of the year'". Hammer goes on to add that "tashlich" is not a command or recommendation of the sages presumably meaning the sages of the Talmudic era. One custom that seems to have attached itself to "tashlich" is the shaking of ones garment over the water which Hammer says was "symbolic of shaking away the kelipot, the husks of evil spoken of in the Lurianic Kabbalah."
Please note that I have titled this section "preliminary" as there is more research that needs to be done before concrete decisions are made to embrace or reject "tashlich". Two things should be kept in mind as research into this topic goes forward. First, there is no command in Torah, the Hebrew Scripture, or the Apostolic Scripture that requires one to participate in "tashlich". Secondly, if the origins of "tashlich" are found to be mystical and Kabbalistic we as Messianics should be willing to avoid participation in this tradition. Some will argue that if "tashlich" can be cleaned up, sanitized, and changed then it's fine to participate but then the same argument must be given to those who say Christmas and Easter can be sanitized of its pagan origin. As further research is completed I will make updates to this topic.