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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Shoftim

NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT

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There are several "elastic clauses" in the Torah. One is, "And you shall do that which is right and good," (in Parshat V’Etchanan and elsewhere), which can have very broad implications. Another is our Sedra’s, "You shall be 'tamim' with Hashem, your G-d -Tamim Tihye im Hashem Elokecha." The word, "tamim" is not easy to translate; it can mean "complete," "perfect" or "simple."

The Rabbis interpret this pasuk as requiring us to have perfect faith in Hashem, trusting Him at all times to guide us in His wisdom and unerring accuracy. From here we derive that a visiting a fortune teller is prohibited by Halacha; we are told to overcome our natural inclination to know what the future holds for us. In fact, even a Navi, who may know what is to come, is not allowed to reveal that knowledge until and unless Hashem explicitly commands him to do so!

This seems a bit hard to understand: If G-d allows us the ability to view and remember the past - as Moshe Rabbeinu does all throughout Sefer D’varim – then why couldn’t He give us the power to also see into the future, as the prophets do? Wouldn’t this help us to
move forward, even with most difficult and challenging tasks, knowing that in the end we would be successful?

But this is exactly the point. If we were to see the future, we would hold back from attempting any endeavor that we knew would fail. We would forfeit the enterprise of "trial and error" that creates innovation and progress.

But more than that, it is the courage of taking risks, and often experiencing failure, that helps us to grow. If a baby knew that he would fall the first 1000 times he tried to walk, he would end up crawling his entire life. Hashem wants us to have faith, to dare to live up to His high standards, even if that requires patience, frustration and suffering. Even if it necessitates our stumbling and slipping along the way.

It is precisely because we don’t know what the future holds that creates challenge, determination, adventure and faith. Believing that Hashem walks with us, and will support us in difficult times, makes us spiritually healthy and humble at the very same time.

The past is vital to lighting our path. As in legal issues, it serves as a valuable precedent for us to learn from and use to our advantage as we go forward. But, as the well-known rhyme says, while the past is revealed History, the future must remain a Mystery, so that we can appreciate the Present for the gift it truly is.

The excitement of life comes each time we open that Present and dare to make each day count.
Rabbi Stewart Weiss
Was ordained at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois, and led congregations in Chicago and Dallas prior to making Aliyah in 1992. He directs the Jewish Outreach Center in Ra'anana, helping to facilitate the spiritual absorption of new olim.
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