This week ushers in Elul, the month when Jews traditionally prepare for the High Holidays. In anticipation of the Day of Judgment, we judge ourselves, conducting a full cheshbon hanefesh (accounting of the soul). The Torah portion Re'eh can serve as a checklist for forgiveness, repentance and renewing our lives. Its various laws and themes each suggest avenues for real and lasting change:
Blessing and Curse
So, what do math and Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, have in common. On this day, Jews are supposed to do a cheshbon hanefesh. This literally means "accounting of the soul." We count up and categorize all the actions we've taken, and all the thoughts we've had during the year: How many good? How many bad? How many generous? How many selfish? How many useful? How many just a waste of time? Then we decide which actions and thoughts we want to repeat and which we will throw away.