October 23, 2020 |

My Weekly Drash (a mini D'var Torah) -- Ki Tavo

In Parshah Ki Tavo Moses outlines some of the rituals and ceremonies the Israelites will be performing upon entering the Promised Land. One of the most curious is a listing of curses upon anyone doing certain things (Deut. 27:14-26) such as "Cursed be he who strikes down his fellow countryman in secret. - And the people shall say, Amen." (v. 24). Each of the things listed is an act where the wrongdoer might be expected to get away with it because there are no witnesses. While the implication is that God is still watching and will see to proper punishment, the ceremony seems to be more about the Israelites internalizing the morality being expressed as they say "Amen" in response to each verse. Perhaps just as important as the "curse" and threat of punishment is the notion that we should always be aware of right and wrong, not just when someone's watching. Like the dieter who sneaks some cake in the middle of the night when everyone's asleep, the wrongdoer in secret should realize that it still counts.

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Daniel M. Kimmel

Joined: October 2, 2007

Daniel M. Kimmel is a Boston area film critic, lecturer and author. He does these weekly mini-lessons for the Mishkan Tefila Brotherhood's newsletter. You are free to use them for similar purposes.

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