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Parshat Ki Tavo

5760 This section is unique because it contains ninety-eight curses awaiting the Jewish people if they refuse to serve G-d. Here the intelligent reader will probably ask himself, "Why so many curses?" Why can't G-d just make one big curse like: "If you don't do my commandments I'll do terrible things"? Why such morbid detail? Even more; in Parshat 'Bhaalotcha' (see our Torah website) G-d already gave us forty-nine curses! Why do we need another list twice as long? I want to answer this with a story.
5761 The Baal Shem Tov taught that G-d must be served with joy, and that every sentence of the Torah can teach us a lesson in joy. Therefore, he was very opposed to Rabbis that made "fire and brimstone" sermons, especially in the month of Elul, in order to frighten Jews into doing the Commandments. But this week's section (always read in the month of Elul) contains 98 terrible curses for those who disobey G-d's will. What has that got to do with joy?
5762 The Baal Shem Tov, founder of the 'Chassidic' movement some 300 years ago, preached that we must stress ONLY the positive side of everything, especially when it comes to preaching to the Jews; G-d's 'sons' and chosen people, especially before Rosh HaShanna. He was very opposed to those Rabbis who, especially in these weeks preceding the 'Days of Judgement', preached negative, fire-and-brimstone speeches.
5763 This week's section begins with the words "When you come in to the land that G-d has given you."
5764 In this week's section Moses makes a strange statement: "G-d has exalted you today to be a special nation...and to be higher than all the other nations...to make you a holy nation to G-d your L-rd ..". (26:18,19)
5765 On Thursday this week, on the 18th of Ellul, falls the birthdays of the Baal Shem Tov and Rebbe Shneur Zalman the author of the Tanya (Baal HaTanya) and founder of Chabad chassidut. But this week's Torah portion doesn't seem to fit. It contains 98 curses; diseases, misfortunes, catastrophes and death that await Jews who don't obey the Torah....in joy (28:37).
5766 This week's section always falls in the month of Elul, the month of mercy. According to Kabala in this month G-d constantly reveals His Thirteen Attributes of Mercy (found in Ex. 34:6,7)
5767 Near the end of this week's Torah portion, Moses, after leading the Jews for forty years in the desert prepares them for entering Israel without him, and says: "… You have seen what G-d has done before your eyes in Egypt … miracles… signs… wonders. But G-d has not given you a heart for knowledge and eyes for seeing and ears for hearing until today." (29:1-3)
5768 This week's section contains threats; 98 different types of catastrophes that G-d can pull on the Jews if they don't do what He expects of them.
5769 In week's Torah reading; Moses' message to the Jews just before they enter Israel, contains 98 terrible curses that await them if they don't follow the Torah.
5770 This week’s Torah portion contains a lot of curses; 98 to be exact awaiting the Jews if they sin. A cursory glance will reveal that many of them are unspeakably grotesque but surprisingly there is no mention of hell or the afterlife!
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