Subscribe to a Weekly Series

Posted on September 22, 2023 (5784) By Rabbi Yaakov Bernstein | Series: | Level:

Devorim 32:4: “The Rock — His work is perfect, all of His ways are just. The faithful G-d, without guilt — He is ‘tzadik’ (righteous) and upright.” Rashi explains that the description ‘tzadik’ doesn’t really mean ‘righteous,’ rather, everyone accepts Hashem’s righteousness.

The commentaries explain Rashi’s intent: Since all His work is perfect, it is superfluous to say that He is righteous. Rather, everyone accepts His righteousness.

This is the mitzva of being ‘matzdik es hadin,’ accepting Hashem’s judgments. (1)


We often find that people struggle to accept reality. They are constantly in fighting mode, refusing to adjust to the situation, waiting for their problems to go away.

We must acknowledge reality as it is. In fact, it may be possible to change the situation, but first we must see it as it is, then formulate a plan to deal with it.

There will be no anger or hatred if we realize that everything is bashert—it comes from above to straighten us out. It’s not the other’s fault—I have it coming to me. So Dovid Hamelech said about Shimi Ben Geira: Hashem told Shimi to act as he did. (2) This can be extremely difficult (3), but it’s the essence of the vidui of Yom Kippur: “We don’t have the audacity to say we are tzadikim, but we and our fathers have sinned.”

Even someone known as a great tzadik says the vidui — “We don’t have the audacity to say we are tzadikim, but we and our fathers have sinned.” Yom Kippur is not the time to justify and excuse ourselves, but to accept upon ourselves Hashem’s judgments and plan to improve.

Forgive, Ask to be Forgiven

At Yom Kippur, we recite the t’filas zacha, stating that we forgive people. This is an important part of the Yom Tov; we want to forgive others and hope they will forgive us. Again, to say this with intention, we need to forgo our complaints and justifications (as much as we can).
1. The Sefer Chareidim states that this is a mitzva from the Torah, derived from Aharon’s silence at his sons’ death.
2. Shimi cursed and threw stones at Dovid unjustly. Dovid’s men wanted to punish Shimi (Dovid was the rightful king), but Dovid justified Shimi’s actions.
3. Sometimes the job seems impossible; Hashem only asks that we try. (Rav Yisrael Salanter)