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From Our Mazkira Artzi

In this week’s Parasha, Parshat Shoftim, it begins with the laws pertaining on how to ensure a just legal system without the evils of bribery, corruption, favoritism, etc. In doing so, the Torah says the following words; “Tzedek, Tzedek Tirdof,” “Justice, Justice you shall pursue” (Devarim 16:20).

The Torah did not accidentally repeat itself, nor was this word doubled just for the effect, the seemingly redundant repetition is teaching us an important lesson. There are various explanations for this duplication, but there is one I find seemingly fitting as we enter into the month of Elul.

Rav Yisrael Salanter, the great Sage of the 1800’s, was once approached by a man complaining that he had been wronged and insulted by a friend of his. He wanted to retaliate and felt that he had valid reasoning in doing so, since his friend had committed a much greater sin against him first. “Am I obligated to be another person’s doormat?” Rav Yisrael responded in his calm demeanor, “If you are truly in the right, just make sure that you remain in the right.”

So often we have such raging emotions after we have been offended, double crossed and hurt by others that we feel we are justified in revenge. “If you only knew what they did to me!”, one may say in fury, but you only lose when you stoop that low. Rav Hirsch writes that to “let go” when someone wrongs you is termed in Hebrew to be “Mevater.” He writes that the root word of “Mevater” is the word “Yoter”- to have more. This is because when we let go of the emotional baggage of insult or hurt from another, then we come out bigger, we gain. When we try to “get back” and use any justification we can find to do so, then we lose our integrity and often much more.

It is easy to forget that justice must be involved in every aspect of our lives. As the Torah emphasizes the word “Tzedek” twice, we must make it a priority and strive for truth and honesty in every aspect of our lives. As we enter the month of Elul, which represents a time of self-reflection, introspection and Teshuva, I encourage everyone to dig deep to find their core being; their true self, and use that reflection as inspiration.

Shabbat Shalom!

Talya Saban

Mazkira Artzei of Bnei Akiva of the US & Canada