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"Hear O' Israel, HaShem is our G-d, HaShem alone"

Does G-d Demand Perfection?

Many missionaries tell us that G-d expects us to be perfect. They quote Psalm 15:1 as proof of this belief. Psalm 15:1 says, using a translation from a missionary, "Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is BLAMELESS and does what is righteous, he who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander in his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellow man, who despises a vile man, but honor those who fear the L-RD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, and lends his money without usury and does not accept bribes..." The missionary also said: "...God DOES require perfection....Have you kept all of this small list that David claims is required? The word BLAMELESS, is defined as being without fault. " In other words, this missionary and many others, see this as meaning we have to be perfect. However, a look at the Hebrew shows that this is not the case.

The word translated here as "blameless" is tamim (tav-mem-yud-mem sofit). It is found in many other verses, and looking at it in context elsewhere can help to elucidate its meaning.

From the Torah

Genesis 6:9 "These are the generations of Noah; Noah was a just man and perfect [tamim] in his generations, and Noah walked with G-d." Since Noach was human, he was not perfect, but yet he was tamim. If Noach can be tamim, so can I, so can any of his decendents (ie, everyone).

Exodus 12:5. "Your lamb shall be without blemish [tamim], a male of the first year; you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats;..." This, refering to a sacrifice offering, says a lamb is without blemish, surely a lamb (a kid of a sheep or goat), is not perfect. There are other citations of bulls, goats, rams, and sheep without blemish, but I think one is sufficent for our annalysis of tamim.

Deuteronomy 18:13. " You shall be tamim with the L-RD your G-d." Do you think G-d commands the impossible? I do not. The Stone Tanach translates this instance of tamim as whole hearted.

From the Prophets

2 Samuel 22:26. "With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful, and with the upright [tamim] man You will show Yourself upright [tatamim]" Appearently, in addition to Noach and David (see Psalm 18 below), there are other tamim people.

Ezekiel 15:5. " Behold, when it [the wood of the vine] was whole [tamim], it was not useful for any work; how much less shall it be useful for any work, when the fire has devoured it, and it is burned?" Is any living plant or animal perfect on this earth?

Amos 5:10. "They hate him who rebukes in the gate, and they loathe him who speaks uprightly [tamim]." Again, it is possible for one to be tamim, to speak tamim.

From the Writings

From another Psalm, Psalm 18:

Job 12:4. "I have become a laughing stock to my friend; I, who called upon G-d, and he answered me. A just, blameless [tamim] man is a laughing stock." Job, a non-Jew, is tamim so can I be, so can you be.

What does G-d Require, seeing that He does not require perfection?

Now that we know that G-d does not require us to be perfect, what does He require? Michah 6:8 says it best: "It has been told you, O' man, what is good, and what the L-RD does require of you, only to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your G-d". We do this be following the eternal covenant G-d made with us.

G-d is forgiving and merciful, He forgives us when we fall short of the mark. He expects us to strive to do good, but knows that we are but human and imperfect.

Psalm 32:5 "Then I acknowledged my sin to You;
I did not cover up my guilt...
and You forgave the guilt of my sin."

Proverb 21:21 "He who strives to do good and kind deeds
Attains life, success, and honor"

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© Copyright 1998 Keepers of the Covenant and G. Shapiro