Teshuvah in Elul

This article is an excerpt from our Sefer

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Teshuvah-Making an accounting of the soul:[1]

During the month of Elul one is to perform a general[2] accounting of the soul [i.e. Cheshbon Hanefesh] and add in Torah, Tefilla and Tzedaka. [Some communities have the custom that in the month of Elul, after Mincha, the Gabaiy announces “Shuvu Banim Shovivim”. This is a nice custom.[3] This custom was not seen practiced in Lubavitch communities.]

Main Avodah is Cheshbon Nefesh:[4] The Rebbe Rayatz stated that the learning of Chassidus is not the main Avodah of the month of Elul but rather the Avodah of Cheshbon Nefesh.

When is one to perform the Cheshbon Nefesh?[5] The Avodah of Cheshbon Nefesh is to be performed prior to the bedtime Shema, prior to sleep[6] and prior to the morning prayers.


[1] Sefer Hamamrim Yiddish p. 75, 78, 129; Shaar Hamoadim Elul p. 189-203; Likkutei Sichos 9 p. 297, 457

[2] A particular accounting of one’s actions is to be performed every night by Kerias Shema Sheal Hamita. A general accounting of all ones matters is to be performed during Elul. One cannot do so every day of the year as one needs to use his time for Torah and Avoda, and hence doing it during the rest of the year constantly is advice of the evil inclination to prevent one from serving G-d. [Toras Menachem 1. P. 175]

[3] Birkeiy Yosef 581/10; Shaareiy Teshuvah 581/1; Mateh Efraim 581/7; Kaf Hachaim 581/11

[4] Takanos of Rebbe Rayatz for the Temimim, printed in Hakeriah Hakedosha Erev R”C Teves 1941

[5] Takanos of Rebbe Rayatz for the Temimim, printed in Hakeriah Hakedosha Erev R”C Teves 1941

[6] The Chida writes one is to perform a Cheshbon Nefesh every night between Rosh Chodesh Elul and Yom Kippur. Furthermore it is the act of Tzaddikim to do so on every night of the week throughout the year, although every man is especially to do so in Elul. [Moreh Baetzba 243; Kaf Hachaim 581/24]

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