If asked to issue a report on a job that was done, what would we look for?
Those who owned land in Israel were instructed to take portions of their produce and direct them either to others or to be consumed by themselves with specific conditions. Terumah was given to a Kohen. Maaser Rishon, first tithe, was given to a Levi. Maaser Sheni, second tithe, was consumed by the owner in Jerusalem. In the third and sixth year of each seven year cycle, Maaser Ani, a tithe to the poor, was taken instead of Maaser Sheni. During the seventh and fiftieth years, the tithes are not allotted.
The day before Pesach of each three-year cycle, the owner had to make certain that he had delivered all the tithes to the proper destination. On the last day of Pesach of the fourth and seventh years, the owner declared that he had taken the tithes properly. Ideally, it would be expressed at the Beis HaMikdash, but it was acceptable to be recited anywhere.
He stated: “I have removed all the sacred portions from my house, and I have also given the appropriate ones to the Levi, the proselyte, to the orphan, and widow, following all the commandments You prescribed to us; I have not transgressed any of Your commandments, and I have not forgotten. I have not eaten (Maaser Sheni) while in mourning, I did not consume it in a state of contamination, and I did not give of it for the needs of the dead (such as to buy shrouds and a casket).”
The accounting of what was done is quite extensive. For example, the expression, “I have not forgotten,” includes, not forgetting to recite the required blessings prior to setting apart the sacred gifts. The owner went through a thorough check list. He pronounced each of the elements that were obligated and executed as per direction. Afterwards, he added: “I have obeyed You Hashem, my G-d; I have done all that You commanded me.”
That is quite a declaration. The owner had already gone into fine detail regarding his compliance. What is added by stating, “I have done all that You commanded me”? Is it appropriate to express oneself indicating that he had done whatever was needed?
First of all, the declaration was made in a low voice so it was not an issue of publicizing one’s righteousness. Yet, when we evaluate others and even ourselves, we have a tendency to see all that was done wrong. There is a time to reflect and consider what was done right. Recognizing the accomplishments can put the subject of analysis in a mindset that he is on track. Besides providing an honest evaluation, it serves as a base to build upon for future success.
In evaluating ourselves and others, do we see the failings and miss the accomplishments? Do we feed insecurities or provide encouragement and strength?
Rabbi Hershel D. Becker
 Ki Savo 26:12-14 Rashi, Sifri
 Sotah 32b, Rashi