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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved. 


 

August 9, 2013  RSS feed
Rabbinically Speaking

Text: T T T

An accounting of the soul

By Rabbi Jason Rosenberg
By Rabbi Jason Rosenberg

Anything worth doing requires preparation.

If we had a big athletic competition coming up, there is no doubt that we’d be hard at work preparing for it. We’d be training, watching what we ate, perhaps going through motivational exercises and so on.

If we had a party at our home in the near future, we would be preparing the menu, cleaning our house and making sure we had nice clothes to wear.

Any time we have something important in our lives, we know that we have to get ready for it. If the event gets here and we haven’t prepared, then it’s not going to go very well.

The same is true for the High Holy Days.

In just about a month, we’ll be gathering for Rosh HaShana services, and the beginning of the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe. This 10-day period is the most sacred time of the year. We are supposed to find meaning and inspiration in the services, and then walk away with a renewed dedication to lead better lives than we did this past year. It’s an important, but incredibly difficult task. And, like anything else in our lives, it requires preparation if we’re going to do it well.

Our sages urge us to engage in a process known as Heshbon HaNefesh – an Accounting of the Soul. During the month of Elul, which began at sundown on Aug. 6, we’re supposed to set aside time, ideally every day, to think seriously about ourselves. It is a time to go over the past year, recognize where we fell short of the mark, and what we have to do to not make the same mistakes again this year. We’re supposed to ask ourselves the hard questions to which we often give only lip service — am I happy with how I’m living my life? Am I living as if my priorities are what I say they are? Am I proud of myself? And, if I’m not happy with the answer to any of these questions, how can I make sure that I have a different set of answers next year?

This isn’t easy to do. When taken seriously, Heshbon HaNefesh is a mentally, spiritually exhausting exercise. But, like any difficult exercise, we do it not because it’s fun, but because we value the results. We do it because we know that, when it’s all over, we’ll be stronger, healthier people, leading better, more productive, holier lives.

Try it. Set aside some time every day, even if it’s only 10 minutes. Use that time to turn inward, and do the difficult, holy work of Heshbon HaNefesh.

How else will you be ready for Rosh HaShana?

Rabbinically Speaking is published as a public service by the Jewish Press in cooperation with the Tampa Rabbinical Association which assigns the column on a rotating basis.


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