Crystal ball

Don’t investigate the ‘what if?’ A biblical lifestyle with God demands of one not to be in the speculation business.

rabbi reads Christian bible cartoon 521 (photo credit: Avi Katz)
rabbi reads Christian bible cartoon 521
(photo credit: Avi Katz)
According to Deuteronomy 18, the Jewish nation should not follow alien practices meant to determine the future. God makes it very clear that these practices are abominations and that the current peoples living in the Land are being dispossessed from it due to these practices.
Making the transition from the abhorrent Canaanite practices, by which Israel should not be influenced (18:9-12), to establishing the prophetic office (18:14-19), Moses says to the nation: “You shall be tamim with the Lord your God” (v. 13).
The Hebrew tamim is traditionally translated as perfect. What does this concept mean and how is one to execute it properly? According to the early Aramaic translations (Targumim), tamim means keep your reverence for God whole. No one can keep all the commandments; we all fall short. However, your ultimate desire should be to keep God’s commandments. Our inner thoughts and external actions should be as one with Him. Similarly, when one brings sacrifices to God, the offerings must be whole, without blemish (Exodus 12:5; Leviticus 1:3 & 10).
Seeking out other mediums to be a compass in your life would detract from your total allegiance to God and reverence for Him.
However, let us consider the context.
As already noted, in the verses preceding Deuteronomy 18:13, Scripture discusses behaviors that are prohibited to follow. When Scripture then follows these with the command “Be tamim with the Lord your God,” does that imply that by avoiding these alien practices I am therefore “perfect” with God? Of course not! I would therefore define tamim as being simple with our faith in God, as King David says in Psalms 26 (verses 1 and 11): “Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked in my simplicity of faith (be’tumi), and I have trusted in the Lord without wavering... But as for me, I will walk in my simplicity of faith (be’tumi); redeem me, and be gracious unto me.”
It is not an intellectual concept but an attitude. Don’t prognosticate, don’t investigate the “what if?” A biblical lifestyle with God means not being in the speculation business.
In every aspect of our lives, life is complicated. We often say to ourselves, If only life were simple! From redecorating our houses to finding our soul mate, it all begins with doing research, asking the experts in the field and gathering all the information to make a decision. It is our moral, biblical obligation to do so, since we should not rely on God’s miracles.
Moses and Joshua seek to find the best possible route to enter the Land, even though God said He was bringing the nation to Israel. We have to do what we can, and the rest is left in God’s hands.
The only time we are asked to be simple in our walk with God is in the command to desist from seeking mediums by which to know of our future.
Why? God said so.
Abraham’s horoscope sign actually said that no progeny would be in his future, but it is God Who determines events yet to come.
According to Jewish tradition, one of the primary causes of Hezekiah’s deathly illness mentioned in Isaiah 38 was his neglect of the commandment to have children. Hezekiah’s answer to the prophet was that he foresaw an evil child who would bring down the spiritual level of the Jewish nation and make them serve idols.
Isaiah responded to him that it is not for you to determine the course of history.
God demands of you to fulfill the commandment “Be fruitful and multiply.” Hezekiah accepts the admonishment, and the rest is history.
Living in and enjoying the Land of Israel is contingent upon our willingness to forego accessing the alternative spiritual mediums of determining what will be. The future destiny of the nation is to echo King David’s words, “I will walk in my simplicity of faith (be’tumi); redeem me, and be gracious unto me.”
David Nekrutman is the executive director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Efrat. Comments should be directed to