Parashat Hashavua for Re'eh
Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff
Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra, NSW
Blessing or Curse?
The Children of Israel are nearly at the end of their 40 year journey in the desert, Moses has been speaking to them about the general principles of the covenant, and now explains that they are each presented with the choice that lies before Bnei Yisrael:
“See, this day I set before you blessing and curse: blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God which I connect you to this day; and curse, if you do not.”
Here are some ways of understanding this:
It is interesting that we begin with “see” and then “listen”. We are being advised to deeply perceive the commandments of our tradition and connect to them, and observe them.
It is important to know that no one can possibly fulfil all 613 commandments (some are connected to the Temple). You may wish to find ones that really speak to you, speak to the depth of your being, and work towards integrating them into your life.
The Targum Yonatan, an ancient Aramaic translation of the Torah, translates the word “curse” as chilufa “exchange” or “transmutation”. This implies that “the curse” is something which devolves from the blessing and is thus an alternate form of the same essence, says Rabbi Shneer Zalman of Liadi. It connects with the concept that at it’s essence, all is good, and that negativity is a distortion of the good. The work is then to connect with the essential good and try to connect things to the source.
My favourite commentary on this verse is that following the mitzvot, is a blessing and that straying from a path of authentic goodness brings us down (is a curse).
A blessing for Shabbat: May your life be filled with blessings and deeds of compassion and kindness, Shabbat Shalom!