On the first day of Rosh Hashanah (except if it falls on Shabbat), we perform a waterside ceremony known as Tashlich. Tashlich, which means “cast away,” is a special prayer where we symbolically discard our sins from the previous year, preparing ourselves to start the new year with a clean slate.

The water holds deep symbolism. It is evocative of the riverside where Jewish kings were coronated1 and the river through which our father Abraham waded to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac.2 The flowing river also symbolizes G‑d’s never-ending kindness.3

Furthermore, the presence of fish represents our hope to proliferate like fish, and our desire that G‑d’s watchful eye remain upon us, like the eyes of a fish that never close.4

After we read selected verses from the Prophets and Psalms, followed by a prayer, some have the tradition to shake the edges of their garments or tzitzit.

To learn the basics of Tashlich, please see: What Is Tashlich?, 10 Tashlich Facts or jump directly to Text of Tashlich. In this article, we’ll discuss the following questions:

How Is Tashlich Done?

Tashlich is said while standing near a body of water, and you can find the text in your standard Rosh Hashanah prayer book (Machzor).There are slight variations in which verses are included and the precise wording, but everyone recites the closing verses of the book of Micah (7:18-19), "Who is a G‑d like You . . .", as these words correspond to G‑d's Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, which we seek to arouse on Rosh Hashanah, the “Day of Judgment.”

Click here for the text of the Tashlich (Chabad) in Hebrew and English

After Tashlich, it is customary for many, including Chabad,5 to shake the edges of their garments or tzitzit6 (the Chabad custom is to shake the edges of the tzitzit7).

When Is Tashlich Done?

When is the ideal time to do Tashlich?

Tashlich is usually performed on the first day of Rosh Hashanah (provided it's not Shabbat), ideally before sunset8 between Minchah and Maariv.9 If there’s not enough time, it can also be done before Minchah.10

What if the first day of Rosh Hashanah is Shabbat?

When the first day of Rosh Hashanah is Shabbat, most, including Chabad,11 postpone Tashlich to the second day of Rosh Hashanah (even if there is an eruv).12 However, some still do Tashlich on the first day, provided that there is no potential issue of carrying.13

When is the latest it can be done?

If Tashlich wasn’t done on Rosh Hashanah, it can be done throughout the Aseret Yemei Teshuvah. Some specifically do Tashlich on the 8th of Tishrei, as the mystics refer to it as “the day of the Thirteen Attributes.”14 Others perform it as late as Chol Hamoed Sukkot before Hoshanah Rabah.15

Where Should Tashlich be Done?

Ideally, Tashlich should be recited near a body of water, such as a sea, river, lake, well or spring that contains live fish.16 It should ideally be outside the city17 but within the techum,” the area within which we may walk on Shabbat and holidays.

What if I don’t live near a body of water?

If you don't have access to a natural water source, there are alternative options.

  • Some recite Tashlich from a lookout point or high balcony with a view of the water.18
  • In Jerusalem, some would perform Tashlich at the site of a water cistern that no longer contains water.19
  • If these options won’t work for you, some suggest reciting Tashlich near an open faucet with the water running.20

Can I recite Tashlich by a fish tank or aquarium?

Ideally, Tashlich should be recited by a natural body of water, but if this is not feasible, you can recite it by a fish tank or aquarium.21

Does the body of water need to have fish?

Ideally, yes, as one of the reasons for Tashlich is associated with fish, who proliferate bountifully and whose eyes never close.22 However, even if there are no live fish, Tashlich is still associated with water.

Do I need to see the fish?

While some sources mention seeing the fish,23 most do not.24 So although it may be better if you can see the fish, you don’t need to go out of your way to spot them.

Am I allowed to feed the fish?

Contrary to what some may believe, feeding the fish is not part of the Tashlich ritual. In fact, it’s a problem to feed fish (or any other animal that isn't reliant on you for its food) on holidays (such as Rosh Hashanah) and Shabbat.

See: The Problem With Feeding Fish at Tashlich

What Else do I Need to Know?

Are women obligated to do Tashlich?

Although women are not technically obligated, it is customary for women to participate in the Tashlich ritual.25

Is a minyan required for Tashlich?

A minyan is not required for Tashlich26 (although some make an effort to have a minyan present).27

Why do we shake our garments or tzitzit after Tashlich?

Some explain that this is a subtle reminder to rid ourselves of our sins and strive for personal improvement.28 The mystics explain that this symbolizes the removal of negative spiritual forces. As we shake dirt from our clothing into the river, a parallel action occurs above, and negative forces are shaken off the person's soul and cast into the "supernal sea.”29