e”H Ribi Yeshu’a Bittan s”t
“Judges and officers you shall appoint for yourself, in all of your gates which HaShem your G-d gives you…” [Debarim 16:18]
This perasha, bearing the name of its first word, shofetim (meaning judges) instructs us to appoint judges and officers. It is very easy to comprehend that an honest judicial system is one of the basic requirements for any society to survive. “Justice, Justice you shall pursue…” ensures the rights of citizens and fosters peace and safety in the land. A dayan (rabbinic judge) adjudicates cases according to Tora law and renders judgment on issues of Halakha, providing Tora guidance for his community.
Many commentators point out that the verse speaks in the singular “Judges and officers you shall appoint for yourself.” Our sages therefore indicate that rather than just speaking on a communal or societal level, the verse is telling the individual to appoint for himself judges and officers to regularly evaluate and judge one’s actions and govern himself accordingly. The Toledot Ya’aqob Yosef says that each person is first obligated to judge and correct himself, before judging others.
According to the Sefat Emet, a person must be a judge for himself thinking carefully in his own mind, evaluating the pros and cons of alternate courses of action before coming to a decision. He then must act responsibly as an officer as well, enforcing the course of action he has decided on.
Just as a judge deliberates a case, we must take time to review and evaluate our actions, thinking about the right way to act, the right thing to do, and certain aspects in our behavior to improve. In the month of Elul, the month of Teshuba, this idea of introspection and self-evaluation is even more relevant. Just as an officer enforces, we have to also develop in ourselves ways to enforce our resolutions.
The verse speaks of “Judges and officers…in all your gates.” Some commentators explain that there are seven gates in a person: Two ears, two eyes, two nostrils, and a mouth. This verse makes allusion to being careful with (judging and enforcing) what comes in or out of these gates. We must evaluate what is appropriate or inappropriate to say, to hear, to eat, to see, and act accordingly, preventing the inappropriate and using these gates in the proper way.
Taking responsibility for and constantly evaluating our actions based on Da’at Tora (the way of the Tora) is one of the messages of this week’s Tora reading.
In this Perasha, a Jewish king is commanded to have two Tora scrolls. One to stay in his treasury, and the other to carry with him everywhere he goes. Why should a king carry with him a Tora scroll everywhere he goes? The Malbim explains that due to his position of importance and his far reaching power in society, he might come to believe in the illusion of his “personal greatness.” He might turn haughty and become corrupt through his civic powers. He might become arrogant and forget that he is actually an emissary of Hashem. By the Tora commanding him to always have a Tora scroll with him, in which he reads from at every available moment, he will surely remember his function and position as emissary of Hashem and his duties in serving Hashem as the leader of ‘Am Yisrael.
The Malbim explains that learning Tora brings about Yirat Hashem, fear of G-d. Through continuous learning of Tora, the king will continue to have appreciation of Hashem’s greatness, His kindness and His misvot. This will have a positive influence on the king keeping things in perspective for him. He will then be careful to lead his country according to Da’at Tora.
One Who Forgot to Recite Birkat HaMazon
e”H Ribi ‘Amram Assayag s”t
If one forgets to recite Birkat HaMazon, one must recite it preferably in the same place where he ate. If the person is far from where one ate, one may recite it wherever one is. This leniency does not apply to someone who purposely left the place of the meal without reciting Birkat HaMazon, he/she will have to come back to the table to say the Berakha.
One who forgot Birkat HaMazon, may recite it under the above circumstances, only within 72 minutes of the end of the meal. If more than 72 minutes have passed from the time one has ended the meal, one can no longer say Birkat HaMazon.
One who is in doubt as to whether he/she recited Birkat HaMazon, he/she must recite it when conscious of the doubt within the 72 minutes. Birkat HaMazon is by ordinance of the Tora and therefore one must be stringent and recite it when in doubt (safeq deoraita lehumra).
When in doubt whether Birkat HaMazon was recited, one says only the first 3 Berakhot. The fourth Berakha of HaTob VeHametib is of rabbinical ordinance and in such a case one must be lenient and not recite it (safeq derabanan lekula).