- How does this make you feel?
- How does the Mishnah provide insight to the verses in Leviticus?
- What do you think about the term דש בעירו?
The Problem with Perfection, Rabbanit Devorah Zlochower https://library.yctorah.org/2010/04/the-problem-with-perfection/
As we read through the list of mumim disqualifying kohanim from the Temple service and the list of mumim disqualifying animals from being brought as sacrifices, we are struck by the overwhelming similarity of these lists, but there is an important difference. There is a term that appears a number of times in the animal blemishes but that does not appear in the kohen list. We are told that the animal needs to be tamim, which is usually translated as “perfect.” The word tamim is absent from the section dealing with human mumim; only the sacrificial animal is described as tamim. With all the emphasis on the disqualifying mumim, the kohen is still not mandated to be tamim.
When it comes to human beings and our service of God, we are asked to be tamim but in a very different sense. The Torah uses tamim in three different places: First, Noah is described as righteous, tamim, in his ways walking with God. Second, God tells Avram/Avraham: “I am the Lord Sha-d-d-ai, walk before me and be tamim” (Breishit 17:1). And third, after prohibiting us from consulting soothsayers and practitioners of witchcraft, we are told: “Be tamim with the Lord your God” (Devarim 18:13). In these cases, tamim clearly does not mean “to be without mum.”
So what does it mean to be tamim in one’s devotion or service to God? Ramban, connecting the passage in Devarim to God’s command to Avraham, tells us that it means to believe in God alone as omnipotent, or to paraphrase further, that we should believe in God’s perfection and God’s alone. We humans are not perfect beings; we have our flaws.We are to seek perfection in God alone.
In our communal life, our schools, and our shuls we are to be Godlike, but in the sense of imitating God’s qualities, not in the vain pursuit of perfection: humans see with the eyes, God sees the heart (Shmuel I 16:7). We need to see beyond what our eyes see and into the heart, into the preciousness of each soul. When we look at each other, we need to remember, “How precious is the human being who has been created in the image of God” (Avot 3:14).
Our service to God and our life as a community is enriched when we embrace all of our varieties. Perfection and flawlessness is for animals being brought upon the altar. We need to serve God in all our particulars. Only then can we form a community doing God’s will b’leivav shalem, with a whole heart.
- How do we make more communities in which others unlike us דש בעירו?