By Rabbi Daniel Lapin
May 4, 2011
Have you ever wished you had access to an all-knowing oracle; a kind of magic 8-Ball? Silly question! Of course you have. Who hasn’t?
Should you quit your job and start the business you’ve always dreamed of? Easy—ask the oracle. Is the person courting your daughter someone she’ll grow to love and respect? No problem—ask the magic 8-Ball. Should you undergo the slightly risky medical procedure or take your chances waiting to see if the symptoms fade away? Simple—check in with your secret soothsayer.
The seductive allure of having a reliable authority to answer life’s most frightening questions is almost irresistible. This is why so many people yearning for certainty ask religious leaders, psychologists and counselors for decisions rather than guidance. While legitimate consultants and advisors fill a vital role, too many people want someone else to make decisions for them in their personal and business lives, and then to take responsibility for that decision. This has led to the emergence of large numbers of bogus ‘experts’.
It is clear that regardless of how strongly we feel the temptation of inviting someone else to make our life decisions, it is far from what God intends for us. So often, things to which we feel strong attraction are wrong, and so it is with this.
Ancient Jewish wisdom refers to this unhealthy desire to place our life’s decisions in another’s hands as consulting Ov and Yidoni.
So strong is God’s disapproval that within only 34 verses of Leviticus, we find not one, not two, but three warnings against Ov and Yidoni.
not turn to the Ov and Yidoni…
person who turns to the Ov and Yidoni…
I will cut him off from his people.
man or woman who practices the Ov or Yidoni
shall surely be put to death…
Ancient Jewish wisdom offers this tip: To better understand a particular section of Exodus, Leviticus or Numbers, study Moses’ encapsulation of that same matter in Deuteronomy.
shall not be found among you those who inquire of the Ov and Yidoni…
Continuing from there we find a remarkably short five word verse:
shall be (TaMiM) with the Lord your God.
It seems from this that seeking answers from Ov and Yidoni negates being TaMiM with God.
But wait! That exhortation to be ‘TaMiM,’ precisely matches what God directed Abraham about four hundred and forty years earlier:
God appeared to Abram and said to him,
‘I am God Almighty, walk in front of me and be (TaMiM).’
Those of you who have been studying with me for a while know that many Hebrew words don’t translate directly into English, and TaMiM is one of those words. To help understand it, we can use another unique Hebrew characteristic. Many key words in the Lord’s language mean one thing reading forwards and the diametric opposite when read backwards.
TaMiM is plural; its singular is TaM. Reading TaM backwards, we have the word MaiT meaning death. (The end of a chess game is when your opponent’s king is finished, or dead. We call that check mate or dead king.)
This gives us insight into the word TaMiM. TaMiM is an affirmation of life which entails using our God-given capabilities to make choices. Turning to oracles or soothsayers rather than struggling within ourselves to choose the right path is a rejection of the life factor God implants in us.
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We all have the same option as Abraham did, actively to make those choices which keep us TaMiM with God. Jews are now formally counting days till the anniversary of receiving the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, the festival of Shavuot (Pentecost). What better way is there to set our sights on making correct choices than to study those two tablets which contain within them the principles with which we can best maximize our relationships with other people and with God. There is more in those few verses than you ever suspected. Make a choice to explore God’s instructions for humanity with my audio CD, The Ten Commandments: How Two Tablets Can Transform Your Life.
© 2011 Rabbi Daniel Lapin - All Rights Reserved
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Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known world-wide as America's Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and host of the Rabbi Daniel Lapin Show on San Francisco’s KSFO. He is one of America’s most eloquent speakers and his ability to extract life principles from the Bible and transmit them in an entertaining manner has brought countless numbers of Jews and Christians closer to their respective faiths. In 2007 Newsweek magazine included him in its list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis.
You can contact Rabbi Daniel Lapin through his website.
Web Site: www.rabbidaniellapin.com