There are many days in the year when we do our accounting homework. In April, we sweat and struggle to organize our files and receipts in order to file our income taxes. During fixed points in the year, we have to account for quarterly and bi-annual measures for our businesses. In June, we finish another year of school and do an accounting of how much our children have grown both physically (OMG -those pants do seem a little too short!) and intellectually (Did my child actually use the word “superfluous”?!!). As December approaches, we all think about what we have accomplished during the year and begin to dream about our plans for next year’s vacations and items to cross off from our own personal “bucket list”.

Rosh Hashanah and the Ten days of Repentance (teshuva) between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, allow us to do a yearly spiritual accounting, which in Hebrew is called Cheshbon Hanefesh.  We are empowered by the words of the machzor, to not only think about our mortality, but about what we have done this year for our souls and for our spiritual growth. Did we have any goals for personal Jewish studying or did we take enough time for some genuine self-examination? We need this yearly accounting to ask ourselves about our values, about living up to the goals we set for the previous year, and about how we can achieve clarity in terms of fulfilling our purpose in this world.

If we take the opportunity to do some serious spiritual accounting, we can be confident that our hopes and goals for growth will end up on the “plus” side of the balance sheet. May we all be inscribed in the Book of Life and have a happy and healthy New Year.

Shana Tova!

Lisa Steinmetz,
Director of Jewish Life and Learning