To Be Whole-Hearted

parasha Shoftim 5782

“You must be whole-hearted with the L-RD your G-d.”

– Deuteronomy 18:13, JPS

“Put thy hope in Him and do not attempt to investigate the future, but whatever it may be that comes upon thee accept it whole-heartedly.” – Rashi, sefaria.org

The Targum paraphrase is intriguing: “Ye shall be perfect in the fear of the L-rd your G-d” (Yonatan Targum, Deuteronomy 18:13, sefaria.org). Perhaps, the idea being conveyed in this rendering is, that in order to be tamiym (whole, perfect, having integrity), what is required is yiras H’Shem (awe, reverence and respect towards the L-RD). So, a practical application is included within the Targum rendering of the pasuk (verse). The two go “hand in hand,” yiras H’Shem for the sake of walking whole-heartedly with H’Shem. Because, in this manner, the chasid (pietist) will be cautious enough, as a result of yiras H’Shem to walk in an upright manner, as pertaining to all of one’s thought, speech, and action.

Moreover, as Rashi clarifies, to trust in H’Shem to the extent that we are not worried about the future, because all is in his hands. As is conveyed elsewhere, all that is required is fear of H’Shem, because He will provide for all else in our lives, dependent upon our sincerity in regard to observing His commandments. Otherwise stated, there is no need to be concerned about future events, because everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen in our lives is for the good, even if we are currently unable to discern that goodness as found within our circumstances. We trust in H’Shem that only He knows what is best for us. Additionally, I would add that these are trying times; our dependence on H’Shem should also be pervasive enough in our lives, in order to weather the storms ahead.

drash: parashas Shoftim 5781

“A prophet will the L-RD thy G-d raise up unto thee, from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” 

– Deuteronomy 18:15, JPS 1917 Tanach

Moshe speaks to the B’nei Yisrael (Children of Israel), concerning their own implied request for an intermediary, “according to all that thou didst desire of the L-RD thy G-d in Horeb [Sinai]  in the day of the assembly, saying: ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the L-RD my G-d, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not ‘” (Deuteronomy 18:16).

H’Shem responded: “‘They have well said that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him’” (Deuteronomy 18:17-19).

Who is this mysterious prophet like unto Moshe, who speaks in H’Shem’s name?  “As the first Redeemer [Moses], so the last Redeemer [Messiah]” (Numbers Rabbah 11:2). Moses was the first redeemer, who led the B’nei Yisrael out of Egypt; according to the sages, the final Redeemer, Messiah will be like unto Moses. The prophet mentioned, here, in this passage is Moshiach. He is raised up from amongst his own brethren (the Jewish people); and he speaks the words that H’Shem commands him to speak.

shiur: parashas Shoftim 5781

“Justice justice [tzedek tzedek] shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the L-RD, Our G-d giveth thee.” – Deuteronomy 16:2, JPS

Moshe proclaims the imperative to establish judges to judge the people, emphasizing the pursuit of justice. However, the Hebrew word, tzedek, may also be translated as righteousness. Therefore, the pasuk (verse)may be rendered, “Righteousness, righteousness, shall you pursue,” providing a more accessible understanding for the benefit of the everyday reader. Within this framework, the pasuk (verse) may be taken as an ethical imperative, that places a strong emphasis on individual righteousness. Besides, if we are not walking in righteousness, what right do we have to judge others?

Additionally, Inasmuch that the word tzedek (righteousness) is repeated twice, we may infer that the repetition refers to two types of righteousness. This might be alluded to in several passages within the book of Deuteronomy. The first, is a call for B’nei Yisrael to circumcise their hearts, making an effort on their own to improve their ways, moving towards righteousness (Deuteronomy 10).

The second, H’Shem states that He Himself will circumcise our hearts (Deuteronomy 30), whereas the righteousness that will ensue is a gift from Above. Viewed together, these two ways may imply that when we make an effort to draw close to H’Shem through teshuvah, He will meet us halfway (Shabbos 104a). For, when we attempt to improve ourselves, H’Shem will respond in like manner to our efforts.

Furthermore, to be righteous in H’Shem’s eyes, a casting away of aveiros (transgressions) is first necessary. “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean” (Ezekiel 36:25, JPS).   “I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes” (Ezekiel 36:27, JPS 1917 Tanach). H’Shem’s gift from Above will be bestowed upon us through the Ruach (Spirit), so that our lives may be sanctified.

dvar: parashas Shoftim 5781

“You must be whole-hearted with the L-RD your G-d.”

– Deuteronomy 18:13, JPS

“Put thy hope in Him and do not attempt to investigate the future, but whatever it may be that comes upon thee accept it whole-heartedly.” – Rashi, sefaria.org

The Targum paraphrase is intriguing: “Ye shall be perfect in the fear of the L-rd your G-d” (Yonatan Targum, Deuteronomy 18:13, sefaria.org). Perhaps, the idea being conveyed in this rendering is, that in order to be tamiym (whole, perfect, having integrity), what is required is yiras H’Shem (awe, reverence and respect towards the L-RD). So, a practical application is included within the Targum rendering of the pasuk (verse). The two go “hand in hand,” yiras H’Shem for the sake of walking whole-heartedly with H’Shem. Because, in this manner, we will be cautious enough, as a result of yiras H’Shem to walk in an upright manner, as pertains to all of our thought, speech, and action.

Moreover, as Rashi clarifies, to trust in H’Shem to the extent that we are not worried about the future, because all is in his hands. As is conveyed elsewhere, all that is required is fear of H’Shem, because He will provide for all else in our lives, dependent upon our sincerity in regard to observing His commandments. There is no need to be concerned about future events, because everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen in our lives is for the good, even if we are currently unable to decipher the goodness found within our circumstances. We trust in H’Shem that only He knows what is best for us.

Torah insight: Shoftim 5781

Deuteronomy 18:1

“The levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no territorial portion with Israel.”

Their presence was required at the Temple, even according to a designated rotation of shifts; moreover, they were scattered amongst the territories of the tribes, in order to attend to the spiritual needs of the entire people. Thus, in acknowledgment of their devotion to H’Shem, Maimonides speaks of the optional commitment that we may take upon ourselves, to become like unto “spiritual Levites.”

motzei shabbos: shoftim 5781

“Judges and officers shall you appoint at your city gates.” – Deuteronomy 16:18

“The human body is a city with seven gates—seven portals to the outside world: the two eyes, two ears, two nostrils and the mouth. Here, too, it is incumbent upon us to place internal “judges” to discriminate and regulate what should be admitted and what should be kept out, and “officers” to enforce the judges’ decisions.” – Siftei Kohen, Shoftim parashas in depth, chabad.org