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On the 1st day of Rosh Hashanna (if not Shabbat), customarily people go to a body of water for Tashlich. Does the water have to be there currently and must be a "natural" body of water? If so, what's the minimum size? For example, would any of these situations be considered fine for making Tashlich?

  • a wadi or other dried up lake, stream, or river
  • a small brook in a forest trail that has non-visible water but the leaves or moss is damp
  • filling up a basin with water from a hose. How large must the basin be?
  • turning on a fire hydrant in the street
  • a puddle of rain in your driveway or in a pail outside your home
  • snow or ice (it could happen!) on your lawn
  • Does the water have to be liquid? What if you go to a frozen lake?

Supplement

Kaf HacHaim (O.C. 583:30) mentions that in Yerushalayim, people said Tashlich at a well or pit even if there was no water in it. He states that the most important thing is the intention of ridding sins in the "upper ocean".

Based on this, it may be possible that the 1st & 2nd items in the list may be permissible, but I'm uncertain, if this can be inferred.

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    What about a kitchen sink with a plugged drain? – Double AA Sep 3 '15 at 1:49
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    I once considered whether a flooded subway under a main road could be used to tovel keilim. Probably could have been. Maybe if it's rainy enough on Rosh Hashanah I can do Tashlich 2 blocks away over the big puddles. Otherwise I'll go to the Dollis Brook as usual. – CashCow Sep 3 '15 at 11:07
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    I live in Seattle, and we have our choice of going to a salt-water beach on the west side of town or a very large (40 Km x 5 km) lake on the east side of town. I am told that the proof text for the Tashlich ceremony is Micah 7:19 (breslov.com/bible/Micah7.htm#19), "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.". In light of that, is it more halachically acceptable to go to the west side or continue to go to the east side? – user1928764 Oct 4 '16 at 5:38
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    @user1928764 a number of sources (Art Scroll, and I believe Shulchan Aruch) state that it is preferable to use a body of water that has fish. My own thinking is that if the source of Tashlich is ffrom Micha (I don't think the verse is the source of the custom. It's a related verse to the concept, though.) then a sea or ocean would be the most preferable. – DanF Oct 5 '16 at 1:21
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    An interesting story quoted here: "You think too much like an American! You think Tashlich is about the water? It's about Davening!" – b a Sep 18 '17 at 21:02
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+25

I was in Yerushalayim for Rosh Hashanah this year for the first time. I saw in Yeshivas Netzach Yisrael in Rechavia that they had a small fishbowl with two goldfish swimming in it to be used for saying tashlich. This would seem to imply that they hold there is no minimum size requirement, and it need not be a "natural" body of water, but that the presence of fish is preferable.

When I was in Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavne a number of years ago, the custom there was to stand outside the beit hamidrash and recite tashlich in the general direction of the Mediterranean Sea - which was about 7km away. This despite the fact that the ocean was definitely not visible from where we were standing. This seems to imply that it is sufficient to be aware of the presence of water without actually seeing it, and obviously invites the question of how far away one can be for this to work.

I also wonder if this can be invoked to answer DanF's question as to whether the water has to be there currently. Maybe standing next to a (recently?) dried-up lake is sufficient to remind us of the concept of water, and thus allow tashlich to be said. (Although you would miss out on the presence of fish.)

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    Ahah! I think you supported my claim that I presented to my rav, this Rosh Hashanna. Years ago, it was common for people to put a carp in their bath tub for about 3 days before they killed it and made gefilte fish on Friday. I was wondering if the carp in the tub would be good for Tashlich. Your answer seems to support the notion that this works. Of course, you can't actually say the Tashlich in the bathroom itself, but I guess you could from outside of it with the door open. – DanF Sep 25 '17 at 1:58
  • Re the dried lake - IIRC, I think I read that Death Valley has a "salt flat" which contains some type of "moist" salt that also has some type of "fish" (plankton?) that tolerate the high salt content. I wonder if something like that would be valid. – DanF Aug 8 '18 at 17:22
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According to this article it is "ideal" to use a flowing, natural body of water that contains fish and is located outside the city boundaries (MA 583:5; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 129:21).

https://www.ou.org/torah/machshava/tzarich-iyun/tzarich_iyun_tashlich/

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