6 Elul 5778
17 August 2018
During Elul, we prepare for the awesome days with a practice that is called cheshbon ha nefesh, accounting of the soul, a spiritual accounting. It’s a time to tell ourselves the truth about ourselves. But how do we actually do that?
A practical way to get to know ourselves better was suggested by Rabbi Alan Lew z’l : Focus on one thing. Choose one simple and fundamental aspect of your life and commit to being totally conscious and honest about it. Rabbi Lew taught that everything we do is an expression of the entire truth of our lives.The way we eat, interact with others, and spend money teaches us about who we are.The truth of our lives is reflected in everything we do and if we focus on even one small part of our lives, it brings us the entire truth of it.We can choose one thing and live that one small aspect in truth and then watch in amazement as the larger truth of our life begins to emerge.
When I watch how I eat, I learn a lot about myself. Do I say a blessing before I eat? Do I say a blessing after I eat? Am I actually hungry? Why am I eating? How am I eating? What if I ate only in truth during the month of Elul. What would I discover about myself? A lot of honest material for cheshbon ha nefesh! Paying close attention to one thing helps us to see our truth. We can see “a world in a grain of sand.”