We begin with a brief summary (from Yaaleh V’Yavo 5), from the beginning of Yaaleh V’Yavo until the point with which we ended in our last segment of Yaaleh V’Yavo:
We began Yaaleh V’Yavo with asking that our tefilos rise above the barriers and be accepted.
We then asked Hashem to evaluate our deeds compared against our “tafkid” (role/purpose) of the previous month and take action (“remember”) to assign us an updated “tafkid” for the new month, so that we can stride forward in our quest for shleimus (completion).
Next, we asked Hashem to take action (“remember”) and allow us to continue to complete the work started by the Avos, to advance the world towards its ultimate completion, with the coming of Mashiach and the rebuilding of Yerushalayim ir ha’kodesh. At that time, the chilul Hashem of the suffering of klal Yisrael will cease and Hashem’s assurance of our redemption and salvation will come to fruition.
Finally, we added requests for salvation, good, and to find favor in Hashem’s “eyes” as well as others’ eyes, so that we can accomplish our role in our pursuit of chayim (eternal life) and shalom (shleimus).
We now proceed to the next segment of Yaaleh V’Yavo.
Zachreinu Hashem Elokeinu bo l’tovah
Remember us, Master of all, the Master of all strength, Who is able to do anything, and who takes special care of us, [remember us] on this day to give everyone whatever is good for them
When we see others do something that looks wrong, we are generally commanded to judge favorably and hang on to even a small possibility that the action was, in fact, correct under the circumstances. However, there are times when we see a clear transgression, or someone clearly wrongs us. In those instances, our job is to judge favorably either by thinking that the person was not aware of the prohibition or the hurt they caused us, OR we judge favorably by thinking that the person was challenged by such a severe test that he did not have the ability to overcome the challenge.
In this phrase, we ask Hashem to do the same for us and remember our actions for the good, even when we did transgress.
At first glance, this request seems strange. We as human beings really never know the full picture, so we have the ability to judge favorably. However, Hashem knows the complete picture. How can we ask that He judge us favorably? He knows whether we were aware of the prohibition or not. He knows exactly how challenging the test was, and to what degree we had the ability to overcome.
HaRav Chaim Shmuelevitz (in his Sichos Musar), based on the Gemara (Shabbos 127), explains that we, in effect, determine our own judgment. If we judge others favorably, and we even look for that one percent sliver of good, even when their actions appear to us to be 99 percent wrong, Hashem will do the same for us. Even when He knows we transgressed, He will focus on that one percent sliver to judge us favorably. Perhaps we felt a tinge of guilt. Perhaps we were just coming off of a tough emotional challenge and our energy level was low. Perhaps… However, if we do not extend ourselves to find that same sliver of good in others when others act improperly (perhaps their energy level was low, etc.), then Hashem will judge us exactly the same way.
This is a very powerful and inspiring concept, which HaRav Chaim Friedlander discusses in Sifsei Chaim (Moadim 1) to prepare us for Rosh HaShanah. We all want to be judged with that one percent sliver. It is up to us. Midah k’neged midah. We need to work hard to train ourselves to find that one percent sliver in others so that Hashem will do the same for us.
Consider this astounding possibility. Two people can do exactly the same action with precisely the same circumstances surrounding the action, and yet they may be judged totally differently. The one who was able to find the one percent sliver of good in others, and judge them favorably, will be judged by Hashem favorably. The one who did not judge others favorably will be judged according to the letter of the law, just as he judged others. Our fate lies in our own minds and hearts.
To access print versions of previous Tefilah segments, please visit OU Torah’s Search portal, select the Topic of “Tefillah,” and then select “Weekly Tefilah Focus” from the Series list.
For Rabbi Mordechai Finkelman’s video and audio shiurim, which are based on our Tefilah Focus segments but also include his insightful and inspiring additions, please visit TorahAnytime.com or simply search for “TorahAnytime Rabbi Finkelman.”
You can direct any questions or comments to Eliezer Szrolovits at 917-551-0150.