עשיתי ככל אשר צויתני השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השמים וברך את עמך ישראל כ"ו, יד-טו
I have acted according to everything that You commanded me. Gaze down from Your holy abode, from the heavens, and bless Your nation Yisroel. (26:14-15)
Upon completion of the tithing of all of the produce, in the third year of maaser, there is a special element to the mitzvah called viduy maaser. In this mitzvah we are obligated to “confess” that every aspect of the mitzvah was done properly. עשיתי ככל אשר צויתני-I have acted according to everything that You commanded me. Therefore, השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השמים- gaze down from Your holy abode, from the heavens, וברך את עמך ישראל- and bless Your nation Yisroel. As Rashi explains, “we have done what You have decreed upon us, now You do what behooves You”, by blessing Yisroel.
The Gerrer Rebbe (Beis Yisroel) wonders about this: Chazal tell us that even Avraham Avinu would not be able to stand up in judgement in front of Hashem, and yet each and every simple Jew had no problem (and perhaps even the chutzpa) to announce עשיתי ככל אשר צויתני “I am good! I did what was asked.”
The Rebbe explained that in truth no one can make such a statement, however, part of the mitzvah was to actually say these words. Therefore, I did what You asked, i.e. I even said what You told me to say.
We find a similar idea in birchas Kohanim. At the conclusion the kohen proclaims עשינו מה שגזרת עלינו “I did what You decreed upon me.” Is this really a gezeira/decree? But take for example a thirteen year old Kohen and tell him to give the greatest tzaddik a bracha. If not for Hashem’s decree that a Kohen must give a bracha, the child would not have the chutzpa.
A simple answer can be offered here as well. The yid is not saying “I did a perfect job on everything. Of course not; no one can say that. But what he is saying is, “Hashem, I gave it my all, one hundred percent effort.” And when we can say that, we are able to say, “I did what You asked.”
But what is so special about this mitzvah, so much so that we are now entitled to ask Hashem to give us a bracha in return? Furthermore, we find that a Bas Kol (heavenly voice) would give a bracha, calling out that next year you should merit bringing again. This also raises the question of, “if so, a person would never die because each year brings forth the promise for the year to come.”
There are a couple of answers that we will offer. The Sfas Emes suggests that the bracha is only offered in the first year because that year you brought it on your own. However, in year two you brought it as a result of the previous year’s bracha. Perforce, the efforts are no longer the same in the subsequent year, thereby removing the Bas Kol in the subsequent year. This also explains why the reward of mitzvah goreres mitzvah comes to an end. When we “pay” for something in one way or another, it has much more value than something that came for free.
The Chasam Sofer so beautifully offers another answer. If we look at our possuk we realize that the request being made of Hashem for a bracha was never a personal request. השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השמים וברך את עמך ישראל- the request is not that Hashem should bless me, but rather, all of Klal Yisroel. As a result, even if he is no longer alive the next year, year in and year out the bracha is repeated by the Bas Kol and fulfilled for Klal Yisroel. The Chasam Sofer concludes that when a yid davens for others, not only is the tefilla heard but he can even come with this as a demand from Hashem- “I did mine now You do Yours.”
As we enter into the Yimei Haratzon let us keep these ideas in mind. We must ask ourselves: “I may not have accomplished what I set out to but that doesn’t matter. Did I give it my all,” that is the question. Additionally, was my effort the same on day two and on day one hundred as it was on day one or was I just cruising along on auto pilot? Lastly, am I including others in my davening or is it only about me. These are some of the things that will help us to be zoche in din.
Good Shabbos, מרדכי אפפעל