Monday, August 20, 2012

#BlogElul 2: Inventory

In the preparation of the month of Elul, we hear the Hebrew expression "cheshbon nefesh" - accounting of the soul. It is going to sound silly, but it is because of this expression that I can remember what to say in an Israeli restaurant when I'm ready to pay the bill: "Cheshbon, bevakasha!" or..."check, please!"
Perhaps it's just because I like eating in restaurants, but I love the imagery of blending the mundane (accounting of the eggs, toast, and coffee), with the spiritual (taking stock of our soul).

It's pretty easy to add up all the things we had to eat at a breakfast out.

It becomes much more complicated to take inventory of one's soul.

How do we do it? How do we "take stock" and figure out what's there? Is your soul a jumbly mess, like a cluttered-up attic with too many generations of junk treasures inside? Or is your soul an orderly closet with the sweaters lined up neatly by color and type?

Not this rabbi's desk but close...
And is one really better than the other? Many people with a messy desk will tell you they know where everything is - is a messy soul any different?

For each of us, this soul-counting business is different. I like to do it all at once, an early morning sunrise walk or a meditative stroll through the Botanic Gardens. I recount and consider all that has happened. For others, it's a more spread-out process, perhaps thinking about a month at a time, or focusing on certain traits or ideas that they had hoped to work on during the year.

There's no wrong way to do it. There's no wrong system of organization.

But just like when you order breakfast in a cafe...

You have to ask for the check.
You have to add it up.
And you have to pay your bill.

The Jewish month of Elul, which precedes the High Holy Days, is traditionally a time of renewal and reflection. It offers a chance for spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe. It is traditional to begin one’s preparation for the High Holy Days during this month with the Selichot, the prayers of forgiveness. We look to begin the year with a clean slate, starting anew, refreshed. All month, along with others, I'll be blogging a thought or two for each day to help with the month of preparation... I will be blogging here, and sharing #Elulgram photos on the same themes at Follow me on twitter @imabima for all the #BlogElul posts, not only mine but others' as well!  

Leave your BlogElul or Elulgram posts in the Linky below! (And if this is new for you, just trust me, it's okay...take a chance! It will end up being a link-list of all the people posting for Elul)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

#2 Inventory: Well, first, there is so much extra "inventory" around me, both physically and spiritually. Cleaning up and clearing out is good. They did a study that says, clutter in ones home is added stress." How true. So, I am clearing out the clutter, taking inventory of what is useful and what is needed. Now, spiritually, if I clear out the thoughts that are not important or unkind, I will have room for what is truly needed and some extra space to fill when I hear some important thoughts that I want to keep during the High Holy day services.