Monday, 30 August 2010

Cheshbon Hanefesh - Annual or Daily Ritual?

Recently, I overheard two Rabbis debating the scope of the Obligation of Introspection

The two characters included a Modern Orthodox Rabbi Avraham [RA]

And a Rabbi from a Mussar Based Yeshiva Rabbi Yitzhaq [RY]

RY asked: I cannot fathom why the Rambam would limit the requirement to doTeshuvah to during the 10 Days of Teshuvah? Especially, when even he says that one must repent immediately for any sins committed?!

RA responded in Brisker style: Rambam is talking about 2 scenarios

Scenario 1
One must Repent immediately for any known Aveira

Scenario 2
However, during 10 days of Teshuva one must search after even unknown sin - the way one searches after even unknown Hameitz before Passover. In fact this is probably why we extend this introspection to the beginning of Elul in order to have the same 30-day preparatory period

RY: This Still does NOT make sense. One is obligated to do a daily Cheshbon Hanefesh - as prescribed by the various Mussar s'farim...

RA: This is the practice of Y'chidim, not the obligation of the Rabbim

RY: No it's required for all!

RA: Do you see this codified in the Shulchan Aruch for example?!

RY then had to leave

RA then turned to me and continued:
this daily ritual is probably a Hiddush from R Yisroel Salanter... One certainly cannot ask a question on the Rambam on this point as the concept of it being done widely is probably less than 150 years old. True individuals may have done this in earlier eras..

What do YOU think? Is it reasonable to assume hazaqqah d'hashtah? Namely that since WE do X NOW that the Rambam must have known about it?

Furthermore, how many people do a daily Heshbon hanefesh? Some say Vidduy nightly, but this is formulaic. Probably a very small number due a daily Heshbon hanefesh even following the advent of the Mussar Movement

Shanah Tovah

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