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Bread On the Water

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Next time you hear someone say "just putting some bread on the water", you might want to think of a remarkable green heron captured in video footage literally putting bread on the water to bait fish. The video demonstrates remarkable critical thinking and tool use by an animal.

http://youtu.be/7AyBLJy0jMc

"Putting bread on the water" comes from an old Hebrew idiom meaning to give to charity and it will be returned to you. The scientists observing the green heron point out that the bird is literally foresaking the option of eating the bread in favor of casting it into the water. In return, it receives a fish for its refusal to eat the bread, or the casting of the bread on the water.

Next month also marks the beginning of Rosh HaShanah, or the Jewish new year. During this time, a practice known as Tashlich is also incorporated. Tashlich literally means "casting off" in Hebrew and to participants in the ritual will symbolically caste off their sins by tossing bread into a body of flowing water. It is understood that as the bread flows away in the water, so too do the sins of those who caste the bread. I found the story of the green heron very interesting in light of Rosh HaShanah and the symbolism of casting the bread on the water.