Shofetim: reaching perfection must include the whole of our selves


Tucked away in today’s sidra, in a narrative about idolatrous worship listing the abominations practised by the surrounding peoples, is a verse that stands out for its shortness and its power:
תָּמִים תִּהְיֶה, עִם יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ.
You shall be whole-hearted with the Eternal your God. (Deut18:13)
The word translated here as “whole hearted” is “Tamim” perfect, whole, steadfast – but the word means so, so much more. It is used differently throughout bible to describe a set of characteristics of quite diverse people and things. Noah is described as an ish tamim hayah be-dorotav” – someone who was ‘tam’ in his generation. Jacob is described as of “ish tam yoshev ohalim” – a simple man (tam) who dwelled in tents.
The Torah itself is characterized by this quality of Temimut. The psalmist tells us “Torat Adonai temimah meshivat nefesh” ‘The teaching of the Eternal is temimah, renewing the soul” (Psalm…

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