Does G‑d expect me to be perfect? It sure seems that way. Throughout life, 24/7, we are expected to do good and avoid evil, be righteous and not be wicked. No excuses!

What if we make a mistake? What if we get lazy and self-indulgent for a moment, a minute or a month?

Well then we need to “get perfect” in order to fix it.

The chassidic master Rabbi Zusia of Anipoli explains that the very word teshuvah, spelled תשובה (commonly translated as “repentance,” but literally meaning “return”) alludes to a sequential pattern that achieves a proper return and repairs broken relationships. Each of the five Hebrew letters of the word alludes to another step in the teshuvah process.

Tamim commonly translates as “perfect” or “whole.” We have seen the word tamim before . . .The first letter, the tav (ת), alludes to a verse1 which begins with a tav: Tamim tihyeh im Hashem Elokecha (“Be tamim with the L‑rd, your G‑d”). Tamim commonly translates as “perfect” or “whole.” We have seen the word tamim before: Noah is described as tamim, Abraham is commanded to be tamim, and all offerings brought in the Temple must be tamim.

Simply put—you want to fix what you broke? The first step is to get tamim. (For elaboration of the next four steps in teshuvah, see Hayom Yom, Tishrei 5–8.) Makes sense to me. If a student wants his tardiness overlooked, the teacher will demand consistent punctuality: “Don’t just tell me how remorseful you are and what you have resolved to do. Demonstrate excellent behavior, be there consistently before the bell rings, and then I’ll erase your failure.”

Here’s a different angle, however, thanks to Rashi, the primary biblical commentator. He explains that the word tamim in this verse has a different meaning than the tamim used in other areas of the Torah. Replace “complete” with “wholehearted,” “trusting” or “accepting.” The context of this verse is the prohibition against employing witchcraft or necromancy in an effort to know the future, in the hope of allaying the fear of the unknown. There is debate whether these machinations have any value, yet the core compulsion to pursue these avenues is the desire to be in control, to get tomorrow’s news today so that I can feel secure.

And G‑d asks us to simply trust Him. Be tamim. Don’t go looking elsewhere for security and peace of mind. Instead, calmly welcome whatever He brings our way, confident that it is for our personal good. Show your love for G‑d by wholeheartedly accepting Him.

When When I hold back love, trust and commitment “just in case,” I damage the ability to forge a “perfect” relationshipI hold back love, trust and commitment “just in case,” I damage the ability to forge a “perfect” relationship, with G‑d, my spouse, sibling or friend. When I say that I accept you unconditionally, I am here to stay, committed without reservation, tamim, despite my propensity to mess up, that is a foundation—the first letter—of return/​repentance/​repair. I’m here and I accept all that you bring, without an eye towards greener grass.

Once we get that clear, even before our behavior have been repaired, we have returned. We have started teshuvah.