Word of the Day / Heshbon

The term for elementary school arithmetic carries over long after graduation into all sorts of grown-up scenarios.

Gilad Halpern
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Learning math, my teachers told me in school, would help me make better financial decisions in life. It even makes sense, they insisted: heshbon (khesh-BONN; arithmetic) is about more than adding, subtracting and remembering to carry that pesky number one. It is also a basic feature of spending and saving money.

And here's the bottom line: When you finally become an adult, it's all about the money. On one side of the equation, you have to pay your heshbon hashmal (electricity bill) as well as countless other heshbonot. But on the other, you put all your extra cash in your heshbon bank (bank account), hoping your life savings will be spared by thieves, Ponzi schemes or implosions of the global economy.

Although I was pretty good at math (which in secondary school is called matematika), I made some poor choices from a financial point of view, chief among them becoming a journalist. Then again, at least I didn't become a roeh heshbon, accountant (literally: one who sees, or oversees, accounts). I hope I didn't insult any of you or sound like an obtuse angle; in case I did, before you attempt to get our your protractors and lisgor heshbon (settle the score) with me, please let me engage in some heshbon nefesh (soul-searching) first, and in the spirit of the High Holy Days, ask all you roey heshbon out there for forgiveness. After all, at this time of year, that's the common denominator we can all share.

Shoshana Kordova will resume enlightening and entertaining Word of the Day readers on October 9.

'Heshbon' is a basic feature of spending and saving money.Credit: Bloomberg