Transforming Curses into Blessings

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Transforming Curses into Blessings

Rav Berg
August 31, 2018

"This week’s portion is my favorite."

I have to admit that this week’s portion is my favorite. One might ask why I would choose this one over and above all the others. Should I say it is because we have a repetition of the blessings, or more importantly the curses?

In Ki Tavo, we are again reminded about the importance of listening to God. And, of course, the question that all of us should immediately raise is how can we consider curses when the Israelites had just experienced the miracles of Egypt, the miracles in the wilderness, and a well that had to sustain 600,000 adults and all the children. It must have been a tremendous well. Yet, after having seen all these miracles, the Israelites are then told that if they do not listen to God then the Bible in this section outlines 53 curses. In fact, there are more curses than mentioned in the portion of Vayikra in the Book of Leviticus.

The Zohar and Rav Isaac Luria (the Ari) in this week’s portion provide us with a vision of what we can expect in our generation, which according to both the Zohar and The Writings of the Ari is the last generation. While the portion of Ki Tavo is lacking in the Zohar, we do find it in the Zohar Chadash, which are original writings that were found at a different time, and were shared by Rav Shimon to his trusted scribe Rav Aba.

In the section of Ki Tavo in Zohar Chadash, there is the story about a time when Rav Shimon fled into the wilderness, and how his companions who remained behind felt the lack of knowledge that Rav Shimon bar Yochai constantly provided them with. They posed a question as to why in this section of Ki Tavo, God does not assure us that there will be some hope for all of the 53 curses mentioned.

"Rav Shimon said that the curses will all be present in this last generation."

Rav Shimon, many miles away from the companions, heard the question, and because he was nowhere to be found he sent a homing pigeon to the companions and they realized this was the way they could communicate with him. They wrote down this question on a piece of paper and sent it to Rav Shimon, and Rav Shimon sent them back his answer. His response was that all of the answers, all of the solutions, all of the remedies for the different forms of chaos in our physical world, whether they are illness or otherwise, are to be found concealed within these 53 curses.

Why are they concealed? In this section, by listening to the curses, we are in effect connecting to what happened on Mount Sinai, when all of the answers were given. The answers were not revealed, unfortunately, during the time of the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt nor in the wilderness. We would have to wait for the last generation, which according to the Zohar is our generation.

Rav Shimon said that the curses will all be present in this last generation. They are here now, and Ki Tavo is the opportunity given to us to avoid all of these different curses that are upon us today.