Faithful to Yourself – Parshat Shofetim
I love reviewing the parsha. I would like to believe that even if there were no requirement to read it every week, I would still do it, but I can't believe that I would. So, I am thankful that Chazal expects us to review the parsha weekly. It also gives me a chance to notice new ways of looking at the content, some of which have quite opened my eyes.
A few years back, I wrote about this verse from Parshat Shofetim, "You must [therefore] remain totally faithful to God your Lord" In that piece, I referred to Rashi who explains that we are required to be faithful to God.1 This year, I noticed that the Ohr Hachayim gave a different explanation. It is not a commandment to fulfill, he says, but rather a promise that will be fulfilled. If you are with God, you will be "tamim", wholehearted.2 It changes entirely the meaning of the verse - instead of being commanded to be faithful to God and by doing so, you will be closer to God, it means that your being with God allows you to be more faithful to building yourself. It seems almost revolutionary. God is showing you the way to be truer to who you are. The goal then is not closeness to God but rather closeness to yourself.
Man begins to be human only where he has the freedom to oppose
bondage to a type. For only there, in freedom, is his being—being responsible;
only there “is” man authentically, or only there is man “authentic.”
When you are A; aware of your divine destiny and B; are "with God" and true to your path, you can even accept challenges and derailments of that path because you know that even the derailment is part of that path. But even more importantly, it gives a sense of direction and destiny. You know why you are here. You are here for a purpose and to become co-creator of the world.
The world appreciates you, says Doctor Viktor Frankl when you are the most yourself, your most authentic.3 You, who were created in God's image, are then worthy of the appreciation not only of others but of yourself as well.
Be with God. Know yourself and what He has given you, and then you can be "tamim" - wholehearted and appreciative of your authentic self. Then you can be faithful to yourself.
L'Ilui Nishmat Imi Morati Hentcha Leah bat Yitzchak Lipa
Image by me. The view is from a hilltop nearby.
Have A Great Shabbat!