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Casting Bread Upon the Waters

 
 
Noddy24
 
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 07:36 am
I was raised as a haphazard, rarefied Protestant with heavy emphasis on both ethics and poetry.


"Casting Bread Upon The Waters" has always seemed to be a vaguely pagan thing to do--unless you're feeding waterfowl.

What would be the specific, practical Christian version and purpose of casting bread outside of parables.

Doesn't the bread get soggy?
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 04:13 pm
Re: Casting Bread Upon the Waters
Noddy24 wrote:
I was raised as a haphazard, rarefied Protestant with heavy emphasis on both ethics and poetry.


"Casting Bread Upon The Waters" has always seemed to be a vaguely pagan thing to do--unless you're feeding waterfowl.

What would be the specific, practical Christian version and purpose of casting bread outside of parables.

Doesn't the bread get soggy?



I LOVE the idea of casting bread upon the waters, which I have always believed to be the act of doing kindnesses to others with no thought of return, or believing in them and giving them a chance when there is no particular reason to....random acts of kindness, I suppose.


I see the analogy as follows:

If you cast bread (goodness) upon the waters (into the unknown), you never know who may benefit, or if anyone will....but you do it with the belief that it will do good somewhere, and you are happy to make the sacrifice.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 04:27 pm
My understanding is that this is a derivative of the Jewish Tashlich - a ceremony conducted as a part of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).

The bread was supposed to be symbolic of the persons's sins collected over the year. The idea being that casting bread (sins) into the water where they'd drift away in the current would relieve the person of the burden of their sins.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 04:33 pm
Bartleby has this to say: (we're both wrong, Fishin' according to this):

An expression from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament: “Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” 1
‡ This saying calls on people to believe that their good deeds will ultimately benefit them.


And a bible explanation site says this:

To Cast Bread upon the Waters
Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.
Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.
-- Ecclesiastes 11: 1-2 (KJV)

As Ecclesiastes nears the end of his sermon on vanity, his writing becomes more lofty and poetic, and thus more obscure. These verses are a case in point: the business about giving a portion to seven and also to eight has left many a reader scratching his head.

I'll leave that one to the exegetes, who say the basic idea is that you should hedge your bets. A bit more manageable is the preceding verse: "Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days." Though the first half of the clause is often used now as a call for charity -- with "bread" standing, as in slang, for wealth and "waters" for an ocean of need -- Ecclesiastes had something more self-serving in mind.

Borrowing his imagery from Egyptian lore, he depicts the world of business as an ocean upon which your "bread" (again, wealth) may multiply, but only if you're willing to take the risk of tossing it out there and waiting for the profits to float back. (He may refer to trading grain by sea, but then again the Hebrews were never great merchant mariners.) Quite the opposite of charitable giving, in which nothing returns from the waters except perhaps gratitude, or inner satisfaction.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Thu 26 Jun, 2008 04:44 pm
About.com give a slightly different explaination:

"Tashlich
From Lisa Katz,
Your Guide to Judaism.

On Rosh Hashanah, observant Jews may follow a custom called Tashlich (casting off) in which they walk to flowing water, say a prayer, and symbolically throw their sins into the water.

Tashlich is done on the first afternoon of Rosh Hashanah. If Rosh Hashanah falls on the Jewish Sabbath, then Tashlich is done on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. If Tashlich was not done on Rosh Hashanah, it may be said anytime during the Ten Days of Repentance.

The practice of Tashlich is not discussed in the Bible, but it is a long-standing custom.

Tashlich Prayer

The Tashlich custom and prayer derived from Micah 7:18-20.

Who is like You, God, who removes iniquity and overlooks transgression of the remainder of His inheritance. He does not remain angry forever because He desires kindness. He will return and He will be merciful to us, and He will conquer our iniquities, and He will cast off our sins into the depths of the seas. Give truth to Jacob, kindness to Abraham, like that you swore to our ancestors from long ago.

It is estimated that in approximately the 14th century, the phrase "cast off our sins into the depths of the seas" was transformed into a ritual of throwing bread into a body of running water. The act of throwing the bread can be viewed as a metaphor for casting off sins.

http://judaism.about.com/od/roshhashana/a/shana_tashlich.htm
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