It was a dark and stormy Rosh HaShanah. On the second day, we tried to get a few families together for tashlikh, the ceremony of casting bread crumbs representing sins into a river or similar body of water accompanied by readings about God casting our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19). The problem is, all over town we were in the second full day of rain.
All over town, that is, except my part of town on the far east side. We had been dry all day, but with water hanging above seemingly held back by the firmament for some appropriate moment yet to arrive.
Finally, abandoning the idea of going with other families, we decided to just go ourselves near the house to the Yellow River Park. There were a number of delays and issues, but finally we got out the door.
As we exited the car and walked the few hundred yards on a path to the river, I smelled the rain about to fall. “Every minute counts, guys. The faster we get there the better chance we can stay dry.”
In less than sixty seconds the rain came. It had held off for five or more hours, but we had delayed just a little too long.
As my wife and seven of my eight kids sprinted through sheets of water (not pleasant drops, mind you, but drenching gobs of water), I shouted, “We’ll have to skip the readings and make this quick.” I had wrapped my Siddur and a book of Rosh HaShanah readings in a plastic bag just in case this happened. Never mind if I get wet, but I couldn’t stand to see a good book dampened in any way.
At the river, I quickly shouted a few words about God casting our sins into the depths of the sea and said an impromptu blessing. We tossed bits of Nature’s Own Whole Wheat Bread into the river. “Has everyone thrown?” I asked.
“David hasn’t,” my wife answered, “and he needs to, since he just smacked me in the face before we left.” David is our eighteen month old and he’s not prone to smacking his mother, but today he had.
We handed him two bits of bread and he knew exactly what to do. He didn’t come close to missing the river with his tiny throwing arm.
We all sprinted back to the car, hopelessly waterlogged.
As we settled in the car, it hit me. “Now I feel like the rain was holding back till God could get us wet. Not only did we cast our sins away, but God even gave us a ritual washing to boot.”
Josiah, my ten year old, said, “Woohoo, I finally got baptized!” I had to agree.