Who is 'Tamim'?

As the Holy Days approach, a message and challenge.

Torah Mitzion Torani Tzioni Movement

Judaism Torah Mitzion Shabbaton
Torah Mitzion Shabbaton
  Gilad Lavi Rosh Mishlachat, Perth

In our Parasha, Parashat Shoftim, the Torah warns the Jewish people against adopting the evil practices of the nations who inhabit the Land of Canaan, who they will soon encounter:

“When you enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you will not learn to imitate the abhorrent practices of those nations. Let no one be found amongst you who consigns his son or daughter to the fire, or who is an augur, a soothsayer, a diviner, a sorcerer...You must bewholehearted (Tamim) with the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy, 18:9-13)

Several commentators pose the question of who is considered to be a ‘wholehearted’ person, and what do they represent?

The word for ‘wholehearted’ in Hebrew is 'tamim', which is also often used to describe those who are innocent, simple or pure of heart. When we picture a person who is tamim, we may think of a small and gentle person who is in the Beit Midrash and does not deceive the world outside. The prevalent approach in the world is that tamim is someone who lacks something; he is naive and simple. However, this description contradicts the description of the first person to whom the title was given.

When describing what Yaakov and Eisav became when they grew up, the Torah records:
ויגדלו הנערים ויהי עשו איש ידע ציד איש שדה ויעקב איש תם ישב אהלים
When the boys grew up, Esau became a skilful hunter, a man of the outdoors; but Jacob was amild man who stayed in camp. (Genesis, 25:27)

In contrast to Eisav, who was a hunter, Yaakov does not give an impression of being a simple person that does anything he is told. Rather, the context of the verse about Jacob we can understand that the Torah explains tamim as person of perfection.

The verse that we will read this coming Shabbat comes straight after the warning to Bnei Yisrael against the world of magic and witchcraft and other types of idolatry. Moshe tells the people: when you want to know the future, do not be like other nations who are looking for solutions in the wrong places, rather be with G-D, with perfection.

Tamim is a person who does not try to look for the future in wrong places, but rather accepts reality and seeks what is good in it. He does not become addicted to mysticism but believes in the complete belief that a person can have free will and work on his character traits to achieve a state of true perfection.

This Parasha is read during the month of Elul in which we prepare for the holy days. Through our repentance and prayer, may we merit to become more tamim and to try to be in a position of a true perfection.