Blog Post


“Be wholehearted with the Lord your G-D” (Deuteronomy 18:13), is the concluding verse of the fourth reading in this week’s Torah portion. In the preceding verses the Torah discourages and prohibits one from being a sorcerer, a soothsayer, a diviner, or a charmer, and or using the services of such individuals, we are required to instead: “Be wholehearted with the Lord your G-D.” Rashi, the classic Biblical commentator, explains the prohibition against sorcery and the precept to be “Wholehearted with G-D,” this way: “Conduct yourself with him (G-D) with simplicity and depend on him, and do not inquire of the future, rather accept whatever happens to you with unadulterated simplicity and then, you will be with Him and to His portion.”

At first glance one might be a bit confounded by this prohibition altogether, what is so wrong with attempting to know what the future holds? What’s wrong with seeking the help of a sorcerer or soothsayer, who might be in the know as to where things are headed? It is also difficult to understand how being “wholehearted with G-D” is the antidote and prescription to rectify the desire to engage in sorcery and soothsaying.

The problem with seeking to know the future, by sorcery, soothsaying or any other means, is that it is an attempt to escape reality. It is an attempt to escape the here and now, it is an attempt to achieve a fantasy high, by imagining a bright future, it is an attempt to escape the fact that G-D is in control, and venturing into territory that is of no use and of no purpose, if one is living a wholesome divinely inspired life. The answer to this problem and the antidote to this pathology, we are told, is to “Be wholehearted with G-D,” how so?

Being “wholehearted with G-D” on a basic level, means putting our full faith and trust in G-D and sincerely believing and understanding that all that comes from him to us, is good and will work out for the best. When one lives with these beliefs one need not find an escape from reality of any kind nor does one desperately try to imagine a better future. When one truly believes that G-D is in control, then the need for some kind of alternative relief, from a difficult today, and the anticipation of a possibly hard tomorrow becomes superfluous.

On a deeper level, being wholehearted with G-D, means being honest and truthful with G-D. This is to mean, that if we have fears and anxieties of what the future holds, or when we might be having a really hard time with the here and now, then instead of trying to circumvent or short circuit the G-D process by utilizing the services of a sorcerer or its modern day equivalent – abusing a substance or process, to temporarily transport ourselves to an imagined better place, we should pour out our hearts, our fears and our concerns to G-D, and seek his guidance and strength to help us through whatever it is we are facing.

To be “wholehearted with G-D,” also means being honest and truthful with other human beings. King David writes in Psalm 101:7 “He that practices deceit shall not dwell within my house; the speaker of lies shall have no place before my eyes.” If we want to be in the presence of G-D and dwell in his house, then we need to get honest with ourselves, with him, and with those around us. We need to be wholehearted, where our mouths speak the truth that is in our hearts, and in our hearts we need to feel G-D’s truth.

The big book of Alcoholics Anonymous in the chapter we the agnostics, tells us, about facing the proposition that either G-D is everything or else He is nothing, G-D either is or He isn’t what was our choice to be?

When we go searching for a sorcerer or soothsayer, which in our day is some destructive addiction or behavior, so we can escape reality, we are defying the very idea that there is a G-D who directs the steps of man, whom we can and should turn to and rely on. We are essentially taking the position that “G-D isn’t,” and we are therefore searching for other ways to make things feel good, and we all know how well that turns out. To get out of the slump, we need to honestly and truly take the position that G-D is everything, and then we can set out to synchronize our hearts with his will, so that we are, “wholehearted with G-D, as it is written in the Ethics of our fathers chapter 4:2, “Make that his will should be your will so that he should make your will to be as his will.”

Shabbat Dinner tonight at 8:00 PM, looking forward to seeing you. wholeheartedness

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Meir Kessler