Rabbi Noam Himmelstein
Rosh Kollel, Melbourne (2001-2004)
Currently Rebbe and Mashgiach, Yeshivat Orayta

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The Torah commands us: “You must be wholehearted with the Lord your G-d” (Devarim 18,13). In Hebrew the Torah is asking us to be תמים; “Tamim”.
From the context it appears that it involves not attempting to guess the future, as the full text indicates: “Let no one be found among you … who is an augur, a soothsayer, a diviner, a sorcerer …or one who inquires of the dead. For anyone who does such things is abhorrent to the Lord… You must be wholehearted with the Lord your G-d.” (Devarim 18, 10-13). However, this alone merely has a negative connotation: Don`t do these things. But what does to be Tamim  mean in a positive way? In modern day Hebrew, we say that someone who is Tamim is someone who is naïve. This certainly is not the Torahs` request.

Noah is described as one who is Tamim: ”Noah was… a man righteous and whole-hearted (Tamim)…” (Bereishit 6.9); Avraham was commanded by Hashem to:” … walk before me, and be wholehearted” (TamimBreishit 17,1); we are told that Yaakov was a man who was “…Tama dweller of tents” (Breishit 25, 27); and multiple times the Torah demands that a sacrifice be “Tamim” (For example, Vayikra 1.3).

There are two ways to understand Tamim. The first is described in the Targumim in this week’s parasha: “To be complete”. In this sense, Yaakov and Noah were complete individuals; just as a sacrifice may not be blemished, rather it must be whole.  Similarly, Ibn Ezra comments regarding Noah: He was complete, whole, both in action and in his heart.
A different explanation originates with Rabbi Elazar Hakapar (Midrash Tannaim): “Do not ponder over Hashem`s ways”, and resonates in Rashi in our Parasha: “walk before him whole-heartedly, put your hope in Him and do not attempt to investigate the future, but whatever it may be that comes upon you accept it whole-heartedly…” In this sense Temimut is connected to Emunah, a level of belief and reliance on Hashem, as Ibn Ezra explained regarding Avraham: “That you should not ask the reason for this command of Brit Mila”. In early Haggadot of Pesach, the son who is Tam seems to be opposed to the Rasha, the evil son. Perhaps the Tam, in the Haggada, does not merely mean “simple”, as many assume; in fact, it may refer to a high level of dedication, one who performs Mitzvot without questioning.
The Ramban in our Parasha seems to combine both of these ideas: ”The meaning is that we are to direct our hearts to Him only, and believe that He alone does everything. …We are not to inquire of the astrologers or from anyone else… Therefore after the warning against inquiring about future events from diviners… he stated that you are to be whole-hearted with G-d in all these matters…” This is also the opinion of Onkelos who translated “You shall be whole-hearted in the fear of the Eternal your G-d” meaning that you should not be deficient in the fear of Him, for tamim (whole) indicates perfection in a thing, just as it says ‘seh tamim’ (a lamb that is perfect).

This is an all embracing relationship that we should strive to have, in which our entire focus is on Hashem, and on nothing else. May we be privileged to develop such a connection!

comments: ravnoam@orayta.org