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Just The Way You Are


Rabbi Sari Laufer/Congregation Rodeph Sholom

August 22, 2015/7 Elul 5775

Parashat Shoftim

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  1. (ט) כִּ֤י אַתָּה֙ בָּ֣א אֶל־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ נֹתֵ֣ן לָ֑ךְ לֹֽא־תִלְמַ֣ד לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת כְּתוֹעֲבֹ֖ת הַגּוֹיִ֥ם הָהֵֽם׃ (י) לֹֽא־יִמָּצֵ֣א בְךָ֔ מַעֲבִ֥יר בְּנֽוֹ־וּבִתּ֖וֹ בָּאֵ֑שׁ קֹסֵ֣ם קְסָמִ֔ים מְעוֹנֵ֥ן וּמְנַחֵ֖שׁ וּמְכַשֵּֽׁף׃ (יא) וְחֹבֵ֖ר חָ֑בֶר וְשֹׁאֵ֥ל אוֹב֙ וְיִדְּעֹנִ֔י וְדֹרֵ֖שׁ אֶל־הַמֵּתִֽים׃ (יב) כִּֽי־תוֹעֲבַ֥ת יְהוָ֖ה כָּל־עֹ֣שֵׂה אֵ֑לֶּה וּבִגְלַל֙ הַתּוֹעֵבֹ֣ת הָאֵ֔לֶּה יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ מוֹרִ֥ישׁ אוֹתָ֖ם מִפָּנֶֽיךָ׃ (יג) תָּמִ֣ים תִּֽהְיֶ֔ה עִ֖ם יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ׃ (ס) (יד) כִּ֣י ׀ הַגּוֹיִ֣ם הָאֵ֗לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֤ר אַתָּה֙ יוֹרֵ֣שׁ אוֹתָ֔ם אֶל־מְעֹנְנִ֥ים וְאֶל־קֹסְמִ֖ים יִשְׁמָ֑עוּ וְאַתָּ֕ה לֹ֣א כֵ֔ן נָ֛תַן לְךָ֖ יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ׃ (טו) נָבִ֨יא מִקִּרְבְּךָ֤ מֵאַחֶ֙יךָ֙ כָּמֹ֔נִי יָקִ֥ים לְךָ֖ יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ אֵלָ֖יו תִּשְׁמָעֽוּן׃

    (9) When you have come to the land the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall not learn to do like the abominations of those nations.(10) There shall not be found among you anyone who passes his son or daughter through fire, a soothsayer, a diviner of [auspicious] times, one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, (11) or a charmer, a pithom sorcerer, a yido'a sorcerer, or a necromancer. (12) For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations, the Lord, your God is driving them out from before you. (13) Be wholehearted with the Lord, your God. (14) For these nations, which you are to possess, hearken to diviners of [auspicious] times and soothsayers, but as for you, the Lord, your God, has not given you [things] like these. (15) A prophet from among you, from your brothers, like me, the Lord, your God will set up for you you shall hearken to him.

  2. (ט) אֵ֚לֶּה תּוֹלְדֹ֣ת נֹ֔חַ נֹ֗חַ אִ֥ישׁ צַדִּ֛יק תָּמִ֥ים הָיָ֖ה בְּדֹֽרֹתָ֑יו אֶת־הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים הִֽתְהַלֶּךְ־נֹֽחַ׃
    (9) These are the generations of Noah. Noah was in his generations a man righteous and wholehearted; Noah walked with God.
  3. (א) וַיְהִ֣י אַבְרָ֔ם בֶּן־תִּשְׁעִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְתֵ֣שַׁע שָׁנִ֑ים וַיֵּרָ֨א יְהוָ֜ה אֶל־אַבְרָ֗ם וַיֹּ֤אמֶר אֵלָיו֙ אֲנִי־אֵ֣ל שַׁדַּ֔י הִתְהַלֵּ֥ךְ לְפָנַ֖י וֶהְיֵ֥ה תָמִֽים׃
    (1) And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him: ‘I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be thou wholehearted.
  4. (כז) וַֽיִּגְדְּלוּ֙ הַנְּעָרִ֔ים וַיְהִ֣י עֵשָׂ֗ו אִ֛ישׁ יֹדֵ֥עַ צַ֖יִד אִ֣ישׁ שָׂדֶ֑ה וְיַעֲקֹב֙ אִ֣ישׁ תָּ֔ם יֹשֵׁ֖ב אֹהָלִֽים׃

    (27) And the boys grew; and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a wholehearted man, dwelling in tents.

  5. נדרים ל״ב א:כ״א-כ״ח
    בשעה שאמר לו הקב"ה לאברהם אבינו התהלך לפני והיה תמים (בראשית יז, א) אחזתו רעדה אמר שמא יש בי דבר מגונה כיוון שאמר לו ואתנה בריתי ביני ובינך (בראשית יז, ב) נתקררה דעתו ויוצא אותו החוצה (בראשית טו, ה) אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם הסתכלתי במזל שלי ואין לי אלא בן אחד אמר לו צא מאיצטגנינות שלך אין מזל לישראל

    When the Holy Blessed One said to our Father Abraham, "Walk before me and be perfect," he was seized with trembling. "Perhaps," he said, "there is still aught shameful in me!" But when God added, "And I will make my covenant between Me and you," his mind was appeased. And God brought him forth abroad.


    Now Abraham had said to God, "Sovereign of the Universe! I have gazed at the constellation which rules my destiny, and seen that I am not fated to beget children." To which [God] replied: "Get away from your astrological speculations: Israel is not subject to planetary influences."

  6. (א) תמים תהיה עם ה' אלהיך. התהלך עמו בתמימות ותצפה לו ולא תחקור אחר העתידות, אלא כל מה שיבא עליך קבל בתמימות ואז תהיה עמו ולחלקו:

    (1) "Be pure with the LORD your God." Walk with God in purity and look only to God. Do not look to future events; rather, accept with equanimity whatever God brings you - in order to be "with" God and with God's portion.

  7. (טז) ודברים האלו כולן דברי שקר וכזב הן והם שהטעו בהן עובדי כוכבים הקדמונים לגויי הארצות כדי שינהגו אחריהן ואין ראוי לישראל שהם חכמים מחוכמים להמשך בהבלים אלו ולא להעלות על לב שיש תועלת בהן שנאמר כי לא נחש ביעקב ולא קסם בישראל ...שכל אלו הדברים שאסרה תורה אינם דברי חכמה אלא תהו והבל שנמשכו בהן חסרי הדעת ונטשו כל דרכי האמת בגללן ומפני זה אמרה תורה כשהזהירה על כל אלו ההבלים תמים תהיה עם ה' אלהיך.

    All the above matters are falsehood and lies with which the original idolaters deceived the other nations in order to lead them after them. It is not fitting for the Jews who are wise sages to be drawn into such emptiness, nor to consider that they have any value as [implied by Numbers 23:23]: "Lo, there is no augury in Jacob, no divining in Israel"…For these reasons, when the Torah warned against all these empty matters, it advised [Deuteronomy 18:13]: "You must be wholehearted with the Lord your God."



    Despite the connection between the notion of being "wholehearted" or "blameless" and the various forms of divining the future that are mentioned in this week's reading, Maimonides does not include the normative instruction to be tamim in his list of the Torah's 613 commandments...


    Nahmanides, who did include this in his compilation of commandments of the Torah, discusses the absence of this commandment in the list compiled by Maimonides, and reconciles his omission as follows: "Perhaps the Rabbi thought it was a general behest that included all the commandments, to follow in the ways of the Torah, just as it is said, 'Happy are those whose way is blameless,' who follows the Lord's Teaching; and therefore he did not include it in his reckoning."

    -Professor Pinchas Haliwa


  9. Rabbi Harold Kushner

    (How Good Do We Have to Be? p. 180)


    That, I believe, was what God asked of Abraham. Not "Be perfect," not "Don’t ever make a mistake," but "Be whole." To be whole before God means to stand before Him with all our faults as well as our virtues and to hear the message of our acceptability.… Know what is good and what is evil, and when you do wrong, realize that that was not the essential you. It was because the challenge of being human is so great that no one gets it right every time. God asks no more of us than that.


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