February 20, 2019, Cleveland airport, USA
Moshe at Park Synagogue, Cleveland, Ohio, where it all began....
the sign in Hebrew says, Welcome to those who come in the name of God
The rabbis teach us that we must all be accountants, but this does not mean in a professional sense. Based on Biblical references and Talmudic writings the rabbis say that each day each one of us must make a personal accounting.
We must make an accounting sheet. At the end of each day we must make a mental list of our pluses and minuses, the good and the bad, income and expenses. What did we do today that was right and good? What did we do that was faulty or lacking? As my dear father would often say, what have we done today to bring us closer to some worthy goal? What have we done that has distanced us from our goals?
What have we done to contribute to mankind, what have we done to harm the earth?
Rabbi Moshe Haim Luzzato points out in The Path of the Just, God took man on "a tour" of the earth, and said, Man, look at this beautiful earth I have created! and I have done it all for you. Take heed not to harm my earth.
Have we harmed God's earth in any way today? Have we polluted the earth? Have we caused sorrow to mankind? We must do an accounting.
Yesterday I took a short tour down memory lane as I am in my birth town of Cleveland, Ohio. I had the opportunity to visit the synagogue where my father served as a rabbi and where our family prayed during the first two years of my life.
I do not have any personal memories as I was too young, but I do have the ability to use my imagination.
I imagined my father arriving here for his daily and Sabbath prayers. I imagined my mother pushing a stroller. In our home just around the corner my circumcision took place where I entered the Covenant of our people and became a member of our Nation of Israel.
Here it was that Rabbi Shur looked at me and said, may this child be raised as a proud member of our nation, for good deeds and the study of Torah.
I stood there as a grown man yesterday and thought back to that moment when at 8 days old I entered the Covenant. I stood there with my friends and students and I imagined being there with my family, with those who are no longer among us. I stood there as an adult and I did an accounting.
What have I done to fulfil those words? What have I done to contribute to mankind?
This is a question we must all ask ourselves; what have we done to better mankind? What contribution are we making?
"Therefore the rulers shall say, Let us go to Heshbon", (Numbers 21)
על כן יאמרו המושלים בואו חשבון
(במדבר כ"א כ"ז)
Now historically Heshbon was a city but the rabbis find many deeper meanings to each Biblical verse. Hesbon also means taking an account, and the rabbis say, therefore the rulers, i.e. those who rule their souls, shall say, Come, Let us do an accounting of the soul.
Each of us, in our daily lives, becomes a personal account of our souls, of our contributions. As the years pass we must look at ourselves and take an honest account.