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Perashat Shofetim 5777

Home > Rabbi's Weekly Message > Perashat Shofetim 5777

Perashat Shofetim 5777

Friday, August 25, 2017 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

In this week's perasha, Shofetim, there is a very interesting pasuk: "You shall be wholehearted with Hashem, your G-d". This pasuk appears right after the commandments which forbid emulating practices used by the nations to foretell events. Rashi explains as follows: "Conduct yourself with Him with simplicity and depend on Him, and do not inquire of the future; rather, accept whatever happens to you with [unadulterated] simplicity". In other words, we should follow Hashem with perfect faith without feeling a need to know what will happen. 

Why was it necessary for Hashem to condemn these foreign practices? What is so wrong with wanting to know the future?

Moshe elaborates in the next pesukim. The way of other nations who attempted to foresee the future was through sorcery, astrology, divinations, consulting with the dead and such. These practices are an abomination to G-d. Hashem addresses Am Yisrael's yearnings to peer into the future by establishing prophets, and throughout history, together with the Urim and Thummim, they are the appropriate source of inquiry through whom Hashem will let His intentions be known.

It is NOT that we are not permitted to ask about the future; rather, we just need to direct it to the right address and not to the illusions of the tarot card readers. If that is so, then why is the commandment defined "Tamim tihye", "conduct yourself with simplicity"? I would assert, "don't conduct yourself with simplicity"; don't be gullible and turn to inquire about your future from someone holding a bag of tricks. Go and ask a prophet who would really know.
The natural desire people have for precognition stems from the inclination to absolve ourselves of the responsibility that lies on our shoulders. By doing so, we are causing our free will to be lost. If everything is foretold then there is surely nothing we can do to change the impending future. All that is left is just to take shelter. Those who seek fortune tellers do not understand that our task here on Earth is to empower ourselves to initiate change and mold the future. That is why Hashem created man. However, we want to know the end of the story, but we don't always understand that we are the author. 

The prophet's job is not to foretell the future; rather, their job is to provide the map and tell us that if we turn right, we get to street A, where there is a treasure. And if we take a left, we will get to street B, where we might fall into a huge sinkhole. They also guide us on the preferable path to shape a better future. 

Prophets don't declare the future; they just inspire us in what can be and provide the tools necessary for action, but we might still doubt. How do we know that if we listen to the prophet the treasure will be found? The Torah states, "You shall be wholehearted with Hashem." Believe wholeheartedly that if you do your part, good will come to you. 
What better time to implement this message than the month of Elul, which is the month of Teshuba and bettering ourselves?

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