Gem of the Week from Rav Hirsch zt”l


Fortune Telling

Tamim tihyeh im Hashem Elokecha, we are told, but what does it mean to be tamim? Not even the smallest details of our lives can be detached from G-d. Consequently, all the supernatural fortune-telling practices described in the parsha are banned. Only G-d is the Director of our fate.

Sticks, black cats, or even the dead cannot predict what lies in store for us. We may not use them to decide what to do. We can ask only Hashem about our future—assuming that knowledge of the future is even necessary for a person who is tamim with Hashem. We can only seek instruction from Hashem—assuming Hashem had not already given us the instructions of the Torah. One who is tamim is so engrossed in Hashem that he thinks only of his duties at the present moment. As for his success and his future—he puts his trust in Hashem. One who is tamim is serene, immune to worry.

Other nations lack such trust in G-d. They need success to satisfy their passions, and chasing after success makes one feel helpless in the randomness of the external world. And so they resort to soothsayers and fortune-tellers to conduct their affairs.

But for us? G-d drew us close and entered into a relationship with us. Torah, both written and oral, contains everything we need to accomplish our life’s mission. Lo bashamayim hi—the Torah is entrusted to the intellect. To study, teach, and observe it, we do not need supernatural insight. In the study of Torah, not even prophecy carries weight. We have no need for further disclosure from the heavens.

We do have prophets, but not in place of the superstitions found in other nations. Hashem sends us nevi’im not so that we can find out what we want to know, but so that the navi may tell us what Hashem wants us to know. The pasuk says eilav tishma’un, not oso tishalun- you should not consult him; you should obey him. The prophet is not our tool; he is G-d’s.

Generally, miracles and predictions are not the real mission of nevi’im. Prophets give the people insight into themselves and Hashem. They give over an understanding of the present and expectations for the future, so as to encourage their people to do good. They inspire courage and faithfulness to Hashem and the Torah through all the trials of the ages. That is the real calling of the nevi’im. Thanks to them, we became a people who go through history with open eyes that see G-d.

Have a wonderful Shabbos,

Moshe Pogrow, Director, Ani Maamin Foundation

Please note: The “Gem of the Week,” is based on excerpts from Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch zt”l’s commentary on Chumash, with permission from the publisher.


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