In the world’s understanding the following declaration in the Torah portion of Shoftim is translated in a traditionally incorrect and damaging translation;
The classic western translation readsthe verse in the following manner.”Thou shalt be perfect( TAMIM) with Hashem thy G-d.( Deuteronomy 18:13)
This is in keeping with another imperfect translation;
These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect (TAMIM)in his generations, and Noah walked with G-d.(Genesis 6:9)
And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, Hashem appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty G-d; walk before me, and be thou perfect( TAMIM ).(Genesis 17:1)
Rashi in our Torah portion explains the Hebrew word TAMIM not as perfect but rather as “Wholehearted” . The difference is theologically impactful.
“Be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d: Conduct yourself with Him with simplicity and depend on Him, and do not inquire of the future; rather, accept whatever happens to you with [unadulterated] simplicity and then, you will be with Him and to His portion. — [Sifrei]
The one thing that seems to get in the way of our individual or corporate search for G-d and meaning is our sense of inadequacy and unworthiness. This search becomes impossible if the goal is perfection. This is especially compounded because G-d deliberately has gone into a state of “Hiding”.
“And I will surely hide My face in that day” ( Deuteronomy 31:8).
His purpose is clear. He is hiding so that we yearn to find Him. This Divine “hiding” is more than a response to man’s actions in this world but is a critical and vital step in the plan for the fashioning of mankind’s purpose.
Hassidic lore tells the story of Rebbe Reb Baruch, the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. Rebbe Reb Baruch was himself already a grandfather as he sat studying in the garden. Suddenly his grandson, Yankele, comes bursting into the garden in tears and fell into his grandfather’s arms.
Rebbe Reb Baruch tried to comfort him and asked Yankele what had happened. Yankele explained that he had been playing a game of Hide and Seek, and nobody came to look for him.
Rebbe Reb Baruch smiled and wiped away his grandson’s tears and distress with a sweet candy he pulled out of his pocket.
Several moments later Rebbe Reb Baruch’s wife came out to the garden and found her husband in tears. “Baruch what’s wrong…if you’re worried about Yankele. I just saw him playing with his friends,” she said.
Rebbe Reb Baruch sighed and said, “That’s not it…but I just thought that G-d went into hiding and is expecting us to look for him. So few of us are…and I just realized how sad that is.”
It is that sadness and yearning that sends the searching soul onto its journey.
Yet , as we have stated,the greatest hindrance in that search is our fear that we can never be good enough, We can never be perfect enough.
As we read in the book of Ezekiel” O you son of man, say unto the house of Israel: Thusly you speak, saying: Our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we pine away in them; how then can we live? (Ezekiel 33:10)
This is due to the fact that we are troubled by the thought expressed so dramatically by the prophet Isaiah;
But your iniquities have separated between you and your G-d, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)
Yet sin does not keep G-d away from man. Sin keeps man away from G-d. We lack the sense of empowerment to move forward. So Hashem waits patiently –
And therefore will Hashem wait, so that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have compassion upon you; for Hashem is a G-d of justice, happy are all they that wait for Him. (Isaiah 30:18)
Yet as a result of the Divine “Hiding”, some theological approaches in the world have created theological constructs to act as shortcut or bridge to cross over the chasm of imperfection. These can range from sorcery, incantations, ritualistic behavior and declarations of faith and belief.
“When you have come to the land Hashem, your G-d, is giving you, you shall not learn to do like the abominations of those nations. 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, or a charmer, a pithom sorcerer, a yido’a sorcerer, or a necromancer.( Ibid 18:9-11).
Hashem warns us to stay clear of these or any of its modern derivatives. He warns us to stay away from spiritual shortcuts in all their different forms and guises.
Rather “Be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d”
Hashem may be in hiding but He can be found not only in the bountiful blessings that surround us. He can be found in the midst of and as a result of, the trials and difficulties of life. It is in those times that the great reservoirs of faith and hope can be rediscovered within ourselves.
This then explains the final words of Rashi
Be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d: ….accept whatever happens to you with simplicity and loving faith even in the midst of pain and loss ( G-d-forbid)……
This will result in the following conclusion of Rashi;
“and then, you will be with Him and to His portion. “
LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved