Din Vecheshbon

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, November 5, 2008

Will publication of the final Winograd Din Vecheshbon (the commission of inquiry into last year's Lebanon War) spell the end of Ehud Olmert's political career? Many think so.

A din vecheshbon or doch for short, is a report. Prime Ministers are not the only people subject to dochot in Israel; illegal parking and crossing against the light can land one with a doch and a stiff fine.

The term din vecheshbon is mishnaic. Din means ruling, the bottom line, and cheshbon denotes an accounting, the details behind the din. (Today, cheshbon in schools means arithmetic.) Akaviya ben Mehalelel advises one to look at three things to safeguard against sin: "from where you come; where you are going; and before Whom you are destined to give a din vecheshbon" (Ethics of the Fathers 3:1). Remembering one's origins as a smelly droplet and fate as worm food, in contrast to the sublime King of Kings, to whom we owe an explanation for all of our deeds, should sufficiently humble a person to render the smallest of sins that might seem not worth the bother.

Din vecheshbon is another example of a lofty term entering common usage as Hebrew expanded from the idiom of liturgy and learning to cover everyday life in the modern Jewish state.

Last updated: 1:56pm, November 5 2008