August 13, 2020

Session I, On Elul: Introducing the Month of Preparation

Rabbi Ira Stone, Rosh Yeshiva, CCM, Philadelphia, PA

“Therefore say the parablists: ‘Come to Chesbon,’” Our Rabbis interpret this verse (Numbers 21:27-28) and the Gemara interprets these verses homiletically. “Hamoshlim”; these are the people who rule over [hamoshlim] their evil inclination. They will say: “Come to Chesbon,” meaning: Come and let us calculate the account of [ḥeshbono] the world…”.

The Slonimer continues:

 “This insight teaches that there is a personal Cheshbon for each aspect of the Yetzer Hara that afflicts a person, whether in regard to middot or harmful appetites or simply general self-absorption. There is a Cheshbon for the world, a Cheshbon specific to the meaning of the word world in this instance, for each person is considered a world in miniature. And each person must discover their destiny or purpose in the world. This Cheshbon is possible only when one rules over one’s yetzerot. If one does not rule over one’s yetzrot one’s urges and appetites will prevent one from fulfilling the commandment to delve deeply into true Cheshbon – only if one rules over the yetzrot will one see the truth of this.”

Netivot Shalom, Rabbi Shalom Noach; Barnofsly, Devarim: Hodesh Elul


From Unetaneh Tokef Prayer; Traditional liturgy

We lend power to the holiness of this day. For it is tremendous and awe filled, and on it your kingship will be exalted, your throne will be established in loving-kindness, and you will sit on that throne in truth. It is true that you are the one who judges, and reproves, who knows all, and bears witness, who inscribes, and seals, who reckons and enumerates. You remember all that is forgotten. You open the book of records, and from it, all shall be read. In it lies each person’s insignia…On Rosh Hashanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire, who by sword, who by beast, who by famine, who by thirst, who by storm, who by plague, who by strangulation, and who by stoning. Who will rest and who will wander, who will live in harmony and who will be harried, who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer, who will be impoverished and who will be enriched, who will be degraded and who will be exalted.