First Shabbat - Chesbon Nefesh

File details:

Resource Type: Peula in: English
Age: 10-15
Group Size: 5-30
Estimated Time: 90 minutes

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Resource Goal
  1. Bringing the chanich/a to be aware of his/her qualities, characters and distinguish between his/her negative qualities.
  2. Undertstanding the meanign of the concept "Cheshbon Nefesh" and tis importance.

Required Props & Materials
  • Mirror
  • Q's (atatched)
  • 30-40 small stones
  • 10 big stones

Resource Contents

First shabbat Heshbon nefesh


1. Bringing the chanich/a to be aware of his /her qualities, characters

and distinguish between his/her negative and positive qualities.

2. Understanding the meaning of the concept "Cheshbun-Neffesh and it's importance.


1. All of the chanichim sit in a circle. The chanichim pass the mirror between them. Every chanich/a in his/her turn, is asked to tell one good quality that characterize him, and one bad quality that he aware of having it, and willing to change it.

It very crucial to let the chanich/a speak only about himself, and not

allowed responses from the others.

2. Discussion: The madrich/a will discuss with the chanichim abou the following questions connecting to the activity they just went through:

* Was it easy for you to find a negative quality you own?

* Which quality you were most aware of the negative or the positive?

* What you need to do in order to improve your negative qualities?

3. Before the Peula, the madrich/a will scatter the stones he was given around the room. After the discussion, the madrich/a will ask for 4 volunteers- two of them will be asked to pick 10-15 small stones into a bag, and the other two will be asked to pick 2 big stones. After that the

madrich/a will tell the first part of the story:

Part one:

Once upon a time there was a "Tzadik", an old man that everybody

admired him. Many people came to him to confess their sins, and to get his blessing. Once, two women came to him. One of the women started confessing about a big sin she had done: I already went asking for forgiveness from the person I have hurt. But my conscience is still bothering me. I know that the man had forgiven me, but how can I know whether G-d forgave me? My sin is very severe, and my only wish is that G-d will forgive me.

The Tzadik listened silently, then turned to the other woman and asked her, What about you? Why are you here?

The woman answered: I just came to escort my friend.

And what is your wish? The Tzadik asked.

To get your blessing.

Very well, the Tzadik replied. My blessing is given to you. I see that you have nothing to confess.

My conscience is clear, the woman said. Baruch Hashem, I only have minor sins, and I dont want ot waste your time telling you about them.

Then the Tzadik turned to the other woman and said,I see that you have truly repented before Hashem, and this is what I ask you to do: go to my backyard and pick up the biggest stone you can carry and bring it to me for you have sinned a great sin.

And from the other one he asked, you go too, and collect as many little stones as you can, for your sins were minor.

The two women ran outside and did as they were told. The Tzadik looked at the stones and said, You have done well. Now, if you may, please return the stones to their exact previous location, come back, and I shall say my words.

-After the first part the madrich/a will ask for volunteers to return the stones they picked to the exact location, and after that continue with the second part of the story.

Part Two:

The two did as the tzadik oredered and came back. The first found the location very easily and palced the stone back in its place. The other woman, no matter how hard she tried, could not determine the location and returned with her pile of stone, and then the old man said, Now I shall tell you my word you the first one, have replaced the stone because you remembered where you took it from. The same thing about your sin. You remember it, tortured your soul, and suffered. You were ashamed for it and wanted to do teshuva. But you werent ashamed to admit and God has forgiven you. And you, the one with the little stones, apparetnly had only minor sins, and your conscience didnt bother you at all. Therefore, you didnt remember your sins, and didnt make your ways better, and perhaps even lectured others, how could Hashem for give you?

4. Discussion: The madrich/a will conduct a final discussion.

*Which one of the volunteers had an easier job putting the stone back in its place? Why?

In the middle of the discussion, the madrich/a will compare the stones to sins, the big stones to big sins and the little stones to minor sins. The madrich/a will have to emphasize the fact that we can't really decide what is a big sin and what it a minor one, and why the woman with apparently minor sins was wrong.

*What are the minor sins that the woman referred to? (swearing, insulting, etc.)

At the end of the discussion the madrich/a will need to talk about heshbon hnefesh and the importance of it. Explain that in order to do a complete teshuva, you have to do a heshbon nefesh and try to improve yourself. The madrich/a will refer to the second woman, the one with the minor sins, and say, because she was in denile, she couldnt make a complete teshuva, and make up for her sins, and thats why it was so difficult for her to find the place of each stone. But the first woman who knew exactly what she had done wrong, could make a teshuva because of the heshbon nefesh. She knew how to find her stones previous location.

Related Resources can be found under:

» All > Jewish Holidays > Days of Repentance (Elul - Tishrei)

» All > Judaism > Teshuva

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