May 10, 2015

וְאִם־לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּ לִי וְלֹא תַעֲשׂוּ אֵת כָּל־הַמִּצְוׂת הָאֵלֶּה׃

But if you do not obey Me and do not observe all these commandments,

Leviticus 26:14

אֵלֶּה הַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים וְהַתּוֹרֹת אֲשֶׁר נָתַן יְהֹוָה בֵּינוֹ וּבֵין בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּהַר סִינַי בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה׃

These are the laws, rules, and instructions that Hashem established, through Moshe on Har Sinai, between Himself and B'nei Yisrael.

Leviticus 26:46

If blessings are promised for keeping God’s commands, curses are threatened for abandoning them. The curses are laid out in a series, each progressively harsher. Repeatedly, God says if the Children of Israel do not mend their ways after one set of curses, a harsher punishment will follow.


The curses include: illness and plague, famine, subjugation at the hands of enemies, unfounded fear, bereavement, wild animals, war, rejection of sacrificial offerings and exile. God notes that exile will allow the land to regain all its lost Sabbatical years, those the people ignored leading up to the exile. Not all is lost, however, as God reassures His people that he will not abandon them completely in the lands of their enemies, nor will He ever replace them. Eventually, when the land has had its rest, He will return His people to their land. As the Israel Bible points out, we are witnessing such a return in our times.


One of the curses states, “And I will bring the land into desolation; and your enemies that dwell therein shall be astonished at it.” (26:32) Although this is a devastating punishment, it is also a blessing in disguise. As the Israel Bible indicates, the land will not support Israel’s enemies, no matter who tries to conquer it. In the 1860’s, upon visiting the land of Israel, Mark Twain wrote, “A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action…Palestine is desolate and unlovely.” It was only when the Jews returned to the land that they began to make the desert bloom again.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the section of curses is so much more detailed and elaborate than the blessings?

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