Shabbat Shofetim 5783

We encounter the Hebrew word tam, and its close relative tamim, in several places in our tradition. Maybe the most familiar is the third of the four children in the Pesah Haggadah. Tam, mah hu omer? “What does the tam child say? We’ve seen this translated as “simple,” “pure,” even “stupid.” This variety of translations means that we don’t have unanimity about the meaning of the term.
Noah was described as ish tzadik tamim, a pure and righteous man in his generation. Ya’akov, in juxtaposition to his outdoorsy twin brother, is called ish tam yoshev ohalim, “a mild man who stayed in camp.”
With this variety of understandings of the term in our arsenal, what are we to make of this short verse in this week’s reading, Parshat Shofetim: “Tamim tihyeh ‘im Adonai Elohekha” (Deuteronomy 18:13)? JPS says we are here commanded to be “wholehearted” with God, but what does “wholehearted” mean?
On Shabbat afternoon, we will look at a teaching from the Maggid of Mezeritch, the star disciple of Hasidism’s founder the Ba’al Shem Tov. It will be a helpful idea to get us ready for the month of Elul, the last month of 5783.
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi David Wise
Candle lighting: 7:31 PM
Torah Reading: Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12