#BlogElul 10 – Count


BlogElul graphicToday’s theme is Count, so I want to look at the traditional concept of cheshbon nefesh – literally, mathematics of the soul. It looks like I only wrote about this theme in 2013 and 2014 – I guess Rabbi Sommer does mix things up!

When we are engaged in cheshbon nefesh, we are adding up all the good things that we did over the year, all the things that we are proud of, the temptations resisted, the kindnesses we were able to do, whether with a full heart or begrudgingly – they all count.

We subtract the things that we are ashamed of – gossip, cowardice, unkindness.

What we are left with is our balance for the year, how we feel about it, and our resolutions for the coming year.

We hope that our year was balanced more towards the good side, but nobody is perfect, after all. We’ve all done things we are ashamed of. One of the practices of Elul is to try and do better, to do more good things and fewer bad things. They all count.

Just as a quirky aside, ponder this statement from the Jerusalem Talmud, Kiddushin 4:12:

ר’ חזקיה ר’ כהן בשם רב עתיד אדם ליתן דין וחשבון על כל מה שראת עינו ולא אכל

R. Chizkiyah said in the name of Rav: You will one day give reckoning for everything your eyes saw which, although permissible, you did not enjoy. [Translation from torah.org. Edited for gender neutrality]

Make sure you enjoy all the permissible things! Remember – they all count.

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2 Responses to “#BlogElul 10 – Count”

  1. Y Says:

    sounds a bit hedonistic.. even if not taken literally!

  2. Hadass Eviatar Says:

    I think that’s the point – one should enjoy permissible pleasures! Judaism has always had a very complicated relationship with ascetism … self-denial for no good reason has always been frowned upon by the rabbis. G-d gave us this beautiful world to enjoy for a reason!

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