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Shiurim & Adult Education
THIS WEEK'S D'VAR TORAH BY RACHEL ALOOF
One of the main themes of this week’s parsha is the detailed listing of blessings and curses which Hashem gives to the B’nei Yisrael. The wording of the blessings is reflected in the wording of the curses, for example Baruch ata ba’ir, uvaruch ata basadeh – Blessed will you be in the city and blessed in the field – and then Arur ata ba’ir varur ata basadeh – Cursed will you be in the city and cursed in the field. But then curses continue for the next 42 pesukim in overwhelmingly graphic detail.
It is interesting to note the differences between this set of curses and the ones mentioned earlier in the Torah in Vayikra 26. According to the Ramban the first set referred to the first Beit Hamikdash era whereas these relate to second Beit Hamikdash era including the current exile. The Ohr HaChaim comments that the first set, which are phrased in the plural, are addressed to the cases of broad, national spiritual downfall; whereas these, which are almost entirely in the singular, are addressed to individual sinners, to make the point that Hashem will not tolerate pockets of sin, even if the nation as a whole is not involved with them.
Time and again throughout Jewish history we see the leaders of Israel warning the people to repent and change their ways in order to avoid the enacting of these curses, only for their words to be ignored. Eventually many of the curses were played out in all their devastating reality.
The Mussaf Amidah for Yom Tov makes it clear that umipneh chata’einu galinu meiartzeinu – because of our sins we have been exiled from our Land – but equally we hope and pray that Hashem will be compassionate towards us in His mercy and bring us back to serve Him in Jerusalem. To the extent that we fall into sinful ways, we have the ability to change and the hope is always there – Hashem is waiting with open arms to welcome us back, as described with such eloquence in the Unataneh Tokef prayer on the Yomim Noraim which we will read in just over a week: Ki lo tachpotz bmot hameit, ki im b’shuvo midarko v’chaya – You [Hashem] do not wish the death of one deserving death but that he repent from his way and live. May we have the strength and courage to follow the right path, and be zoche to once again serve Hashem in His holy Temple bimheira v’yameinu, Amen.