Friday, August 13, 2010

The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? PS27

Hi and Shalom,
Today is Friday August 13 but more importantly Elul 3.
I resubscribed to the weekly newsletter from Beth Haderech Congreation of Toronto CA and want to share the following lengthy exercise one can do this month. Perhaps each of us are doing this to some extent or other. We belong to the Savior and have been brought with a price, let's continue to turn away from sin together..
This Rosh Chodesh, New Moon, marks the start of the month of Elul. Elul 1 is 30 days from the Feast of Trumpets and 40 days before the Day of Atonement. "Elul" has been interpreted as an acronym, with its Hebrew letters "Aleph," "Lamed," "Vav," "Lamed" representing the words "Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li," Song of Songs 6:3. This gives us a hint of the intimacy that should be between the Almighty and His people during these days. Indeed, the next month is a special time. As we are approaching the Fall Feast Days may we cleanse our souls and prepare our hearts to receive from HaShem. One effective way to bring about purification is through a "Cheshbon HaNefesh."

When you go out to eat there is always a bill that must be paid. This itemized accounting of what you ordered and the amount owed is called a "cheshbon" in Hebrew. This phrase is important to know as it can lead the spiritual renewal of your soul. Can one Hebrew word change your life? Yes, it can IF you allow it to do so.

Tehillim /Psalm 51:3 "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me."

Most people would never leave a restaurant with a large bill due without paying, yet we go to bed each night with a bill for our souls that needs to be accounted for. The bills for our soul have been left unpaid until now. With the Fall Feast Days approaching, it is now time to take a serious inventory of our life and begin making some serious changes. Don’t wait on HaShem to change you or your spouse to finally correct all your faults. You must change you! This positive change into HaShem’s image begins with acknowledging the status of your soul and then making Biblical choices.

It is a Scriptural principle to keep an account of your wrong doings before HaShem in order not to repeat the error. This itemized inventory or accounting of your soul is called a "chesbon HaNefesh" or "the soul’s bill." The Cheshbon HaNefesh describes the debt your soul experiences and owes. It is customary to first create a large list of your past, called the "chesbon HaNefesh gadol" and then keep a nightly small list. Such is done to learn about your own defects and areas of sin.

Yacov HaZadik / James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

Bamidbar / Numbers 12:11 Please, my HaShem, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed.

Daniel 9:4I prayed to the HaShem my Elohim and confessed: "O HaShem, the great and awesome Elohim, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands,

The story is told of Chaim of Zanz who at 20 want to reform his entire country morally. When he reached 30, he did not succeed at all. So at 30, he decided to reform his province and by 40, he realized that program was a failure as well. So at 40, he decided to morally reform his own town and at 50 he saw that morally his town was the same. So at 50, he finally realized that he had to first spend the time repairing his own soul.

Your Cheshbon HaNefesh Gadol can begin by taking a piece of paper with 4 columns. In the first column list all of the fears in your life that have held you back. List the fears that have stopped you from enjoying life or stepping out into the world. Fear is a common human emotion that stops people from being successful, loved, and accepted. Write down any fears that you have EVER faced in your life. Now review your list. Are these fears rational? Do you really have control over these areas? Most fears will only lead to sin and waywardness from HaShem. The by-products of fear can paralyze your life from being all that HaShem has planned for you. Be honest as you account for your life.

In the next column right down the reason for this fear. Think about where this came from. Did someone teach this to you or is it the result of a traumatic experience? In the third column list the behaviors that these fears cause. For example, if you are afraid of dying in a car accident you may choose not to drive places. Finally, for each of your fears ask yourself, "If I trusted in, had faith in, and believed in HaShem, could I let go of these fears and the behaviors stemming from them?" In the fourth column simply write the word "yes" or "no." The first step of your Cheshbon HaNefesh is completed.

Now comes the time to reason with HaShem about other people.

Vayikra / Leviticus 19:18, "’Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the HaShem."

If this verse has meaning for you then this exercise will have additional meaning as well.

On a sheet of paper make four columns. In the first column list EVERYONE against whom you have EVER held a grudge, felt anger towards, or resented. Start with the present and work backwards to your childhood years. Be honest and include friends, family, enemies, school friends, bosses, cops, etc. Also list institutions that have wronged or upset you like the insurance company, government, or doctor’s office. In the next column write down what caused the anger to occur. Don’t ignore any past problem or pain. The third list will give you an opportunity to list how such actions affected you. Were you emotionally or physically abused or abandoned? Was your spiritual growth stunted because of the actions of others? What really happened that has caused you to be wronged?

An honest list will include some horrible problems and some pretty petty pain. Consider the power that you have allowed these people to possess over you. Holding a grudge is a sin, so its time to let go of the anger and stop allowing people to hold you captive. Now it is time to rid yourself of these resentments. Do not wait to be asked for forgiveness. You must choose to forgive others. Pray and ask HaShem for how to let go of these pain. Pray for these people daily. In the fourth column, list what you have done to hurt these people. How have you been rude, selfish or uncaring? Be honest and admit your dishonesty!

Your Cheshbon HaNefesh Gadol is almost complete. On a last sheet of paper begin listing all of your personal defects, sins, and selfish behaviors. Be honest with yourself. Include lies, evil speech, gossip, slander, controlling behaviors, rudeness, and stinginess. List how you have taken advantage of people and robbed yourself of life by not caring for your body. Take this list and begin to confess before HaShem. Your Cheshbon HaNefesh Gadol is complete once you have honestly paid the bill of your soul through confession and asking for forgiveness.

Beginning tonight, you should create a "Cheshbon HaNefesh Katon" every evening. As you do these each night you will never need to create a large Cheshbon again! This is a daily keeping of your faults, pain, and resentment. The Besorah Tova HaGeula says: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Before going to bed, simply ask yourself if you owe anyone amends as a result of your actions. Did you properly represent HaShem to each person you came in contact with today? Who can you contact to make amends before you go to sleep?

Kohelet / Proverbs 28:13
He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

When we complete our accounting of sins, our souls are released from pain and resentment. Our spirit can be renewed and we can hear clearly from HaShem.

Daniel Rendleman

His presence go with us today..
Mellow Roc

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