Pssst: Ki Tavo 5773 by Cantor Lipp

Fri, 08/23/2013 - 10:53am -- AJ Blog

As any good interrogator will tell you: As hard as a good secret is to uncover it's even harder to keep.

            --The Closer


Secrets are essential to two sets of curses enumerated in our portion.

In the first, Moses orders the Israelites to perform an elaborate ritual when they enter the land. Six tribes will stand on one hill and six on the other with the Priests and select Levites in between shouting blessings and curses to which the tribes answer Amen. Every one of the curses implies a secretive sin: idolatry, sex, theft of land. 

In the second, there is a cavalcade of curses pronounced as punishment for disobedience to the myriad commands enumerated in Deuteronomy. The tradition is to recite these curses in an undertone. 

Although most assume this is out of fear associated with the curses, Hassidic thought argues that since God is completely blessed and the Torah is God’s communication with us that even these curses are blessings in disguise. 

Rabbi Shloymele Bochner of Ksharnov, an ardent Hassidic rebbe of early 19th century Poland, argued that we recite the curses quietly because they contain this mystical message of blessing. Since mysticism in Hebrew is Sod which also means secret, just as a secret is whispered so is a blessing in disguise.

Each week we are dealt a combination of experiences, curses and blessings. Many curses hide blessings and blessings curses. 

44% of lottery winners are likely to spend all their winnings within 5 years often leaving them poorer than before their good fortune. Many of us will not gain the incentive to better ourselves -- our health, relationships or finances -- until we are shamed to do so.

May we allow Shabbat to be the soulful sieve through which we learn to understand the hidden curses in those things we conceive to be blessings and the hidden blessings in those things we understand as curses.


Shabbat Shalom.

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